Anecdotes entertain conference

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett (right) addresses the 2016 Women In Business Conference in...
Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett (right) addresses the 2016 Women In Business Conference in Queenstown yesterday. At left is the MC, journalist Kerre McIvor. Photo by Louise Scott.

Amid serious topics of discussion at the Women in Business Conference were giggles, tears and roars of laughter.

Hosted annually by the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce, this year the guest speakers included Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett, co-founder of New Zealand fashion brand World Denise L'Estrange-Corbet, singer-songwriter Lizzie Marvelly and journalist Kerre McIvor, who was also the MC.

The theme for the sold-out event, held at Hilton Queenstown, was "The art of leading change''.

Mrs Bennett adopted Chatham House rules, allowing her to speak freely about her life, experiences and career to the 230 women in the room.

Giving 10 pointers to those present, she encouraged them to work hard, have a good attitude, own the life they lived and not to take themselves too seriously.

Speaking to the Otago Daily Times, she said it was an opportunity to give something back and speak to like-minded women living real lives.

London-born Denise L'Estrange-Corbet, who opens her second South Island boutique in Queenstown later this year, engaged the audience with childhood tales, stories of boardroom antics and her rise to success in the fashion and retail world.

As a child she dreamed of being a pop star, something she quickly dismissed after being selected for two mute parts in high school theatrical productions. Her next career aspiration was to be an air stewardess, but this was short-lived due to her height.

She moved to New Zealand in 1987, intending to stay six months. Two years later, after meeting Francis Hooper and with joint savings of only $400, the pair opened their first retail store.

Asked about the new shop on the corner of Marine Parade and Church St, she said "I cannot wait. I am really excited for it to open''.

Chamber of Commerce chief executive Ann Lockhart said the event attracted a great turnout.

-By Louise Scott 

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