I grew up in Auckland in a family of 8 raised with parents who struggled financially. Like my parents, I was expected to leave school at the end of fifth form and I had a full time job the day after my final exam. It was that employer that saw potential in me and encouraged me to study to become a Chartered Accountant. But alas, I fell in love at the grand old age of 16 and married my now husband of 17 years at the age of 18 and moved to Northland to join him. After a short stint at the Department of Corrections (now that was an eye opener!) I then began work at Whitelaw Weber and soon was encouraged by the Partners to begin studying. 10 years of study while being a mum to 3 children and working full time brought me to the final 6 hour exam at the age of 30 and a HUGE sigh of relief that I had made it to the end of my very long journey. I became partner at Whitelaw Weber at 33 (and was the first female partner since its origination). What I have learned looking back on my career is that encouragement can come from anywhere and by anyone and can fundamentally change a person’s life. We all can have a part to play in changing someone’s life for the better and hearing from speakers at the Nexus group has been truly inspirational.