Q&A: Supporting women in business
NZBusiness questions marketing expert Rosina Webb about the impact of Covid-19 on New Zealand’s women entrepreneurs and a new initiative to support and mentor women in business. NZB: First, what feedback are you currently getting from women in business relating to the impact Covid-19 has had on the wider business community? Has it knocked peoples’ […]
NZBusiness questions marketing expert Rosina Webb about the impact of Covid-19 on New Zealand’s women entrepreneurs and a new initiative to support and mentor women in business.
NZB: First, what feedback are you currently getting from women in business relating to the impact Covid-19 has had on the wider business community? Has it knocked peoples’ confidence around launching and marketing their businesses?
ROSINA: It’s a pivotal time for women in the workforce. Some women are feeling discouraged about their overall job prospects so have removed themselves from the job market entirely and may be exploring a side hustle or starting up their own business. This will ultimately be their main income source. Many are working from home or even taking early retirement. For those that do decide to start their own venture, marketing will be key to their success, ensuring they get their initiative out there.
Overall, women are feeling more anxious, less secure and more vulnerable than this time last year – this is of course a natural response to world events, but with over two-thirds of the number of unemployed people in New Zealand being women – that’s between the March and September 2020 quarters – there is reason for concern. Nationally, the seasonally adjusted number of people in employment fell by 31,000 between that period – and 22,000 were women. As a result, the employment rate for women fell from 62.8 percent to 61.2 percent over the period*.
On the flip side, those women with e-commerce businesses and those selling products and services that are COVID relevant, for example face masks, have seen an increase in sales and demand and are generally more upbeat about the future.
NZB: Do you think women seek enough advice and support when going out alone in business? What’s your advice to those who try to go it alone without an adequate marketing and/or management strategy?
ROSINA: Women are very resourceful and often just get on with it. However, unless they are aware of the support available, they may struggle in the day-to-day running of their business. To lead a business of any kind, you need a plan. At the very least a management and marketing strategy.
NZB: What are your thoughts on the gender divide in business – has it got worse or better in recent times? And how do you see that divide currently being played out?
ROSINA: The gender divide in business will unfortunately continue as long as there is bias for men to dominate senior leadership roles. Most business sectors in New Zealand suffer from this and whilst there is an ‘awareness’ of this reality, there is currently little momentum to right this.
NZB: Which women entrepreneurs inspire you the most – and what lessons do they exemplify?
ROSINA: Currently Brooke Roberts – CEO and Co- founder of Sharesies. I was a judge at the New Zealand Marketing Awards last year and was impressed by her award entry. Hence Sharesies took out the Supreme Award. To go from $5,500 to nearly $500 million in managed funds in just three years is impressive. Their success was achieved by having a solid marketing strategy, a robust vision, as well as transforming the engagement model in New Zealand’s traditionally male heavy capital markets.
NZB: Tell us about your SHE initiative – what excites you the most about it? What will be its greatest appeal to attendees?
ROSINA: SHE is a much-needed community for women who want to be part of a like-minded business community that supports and nurtures their entrepreneurial success. No agendas, no hierarchy, no contracts, just modelling success through mentoring and networking. I created SHE as it was what I searched for when I set up Energise 11 years ago. At the time there was nothing to help me navigate the business world.
SHE is launching as an extension of SME School, a marketing school for small to medium business owners, modelled on a teacher-based platform, which I also run. SME School teaches all business owners how to DIY their marketing and provides education resources and training for those in business wanting to learn about marketing, sales and digital.
NZB: What other ambitions and initiatives do you have planned for 2021?
ROSINA: We plan to offer scholarships to women, some fully funded, which will be a mix of training, courses and mentoring. We are also preparing a line-up of successful Kiwi women entrepreneurs who can speak at our monthly networking events and continue to inspire success in our SHE members.
Throughout the year, we will continue with our multi-channel approach, taking part in with regular webinars and podcasts that set out to inform, challenge and inspire possibilities.
A little about Rosina:
When Rosina Webb first started her career path as a school teacher, following in the footsteps of a long line of teachers in her family, she never thought that three decades later she’d be heading up a marketing agency and providing support for entrepreneurs.
Rosina started her own business journey 11 years ago, following a successful marketing career in roles including Marketing Manager for Westfield New Zealand, Sky City, AUT, Auckland City Council and Telecom.
“I’ve always been interested in people and I think if you’re not curious about people you will never be a good marketer. If you have that innate curiosity it makes you a good marketer.”
Realising she’d found her sweet spot in the world of marketing, she completed a Post-Grad in Marketing. While heading up the marketing side of the Retail Division at Telecom she had an epiphany; “I looked at my team and saw two things – no one was over 40 and no one was happy. I didn’t feel like I had control over my future”.
So, with just a laptop, phone and a “crapped out car”, Rosina started Energise.
“I had an overarching zest for independence. My girlfriend was a training provider in the middle of Glen Innes and she gave me a room the size of a shoebox to work out of for free and I absolutely loved it. I knew I wanted to incorporate a sense of teaching and facilitating in what I wanted to do. I wanted to challenge and change mindsets. I focus a lot on engage, challenge and shift.”