“Members were sharing their stories of achieving Guinness world records, attending some of the world’s top universities, or setting up amazing social ventures in remote parts of Asia. But it also gave me so much food for thought about what direction I wanted to go in.”
Fiona was already off to a good start, having completed a Foundation business internship at ANZ subsidiary Wing, Cambodia’s first mobile banking firm.
“It was an amazing opportunity to see how this young business could transform the lives of people across Cambodia, while also learning how they were refining their product offerings to become self-sustainable,” says Fiona.
She came back to New Zealand but couldn’t sit still for long.
“My time in Cambodia gave me such a raw and inspiring experience that after a few years consulting in Wellington, I was actively searching for ways to experience social innovation in other parts of South East Asia.”
She landed a job as a business development manager at Proximity Designs, a social business in Myanmar with a platform of irrigation tech, knowledge and financial services to help smallholder farmers be profitable and boost production.
The Foundation played a role in making that connection, too.
“It was a contact I met at a Track II event I attended in Kuala Lumpur that put Myanmar on my mind. He became a key person that I connected with a few years later when I was about to take a job with Proximity, knowing next to nothing about the country.”
Fiona has been hugely active in her participation with the Foundation, including attending Track II events and leadership hui in Asia, helping with Experience Asia school events, and as a member of the Leadership Network Advisory Board.
Working with the Foundation, Fiona says, has shaped both her career and her leadership style.
“One of the biggest lessons I took from [the 2014 Bangkok leadership hui] was to focus on building courage, not confidence, as I tackle any challenge ahead of me.”