Massey Women of Influence: Candace Kinser

Master of Management graduate Candace Kinser has long been an influential woman in the male-dominated information, communication and technology sector.

Massey University is proud to have nearly 20 per cent of the 101 finalists in this year's Women of Influence Awards. The awards aim to recognise and celebrate those who make a difference to other New Zealanders. Over the coming weeks we will showcase some of these finalists, all of whom are inspiring women who are Massey staff or alumnae.

Candace Kinser

Candace Kinser is a corporate advisor and board director. She is the former chief executive of the New Zealand Technology Industry Association and was named a 'Top 10 Female CEO' in New Zealand in 2010. She was chief executive of the successful science software start-up Biomatters, which won New Zealand Hi Tech Emerging Company of the Year in 2012. She currently sits on the boards of Livestock Improvement Corporation, EROAD, Talent International, Cloud Security Alliance, Well Foundation and Waikato University's Cyber Security Lab. She is a former member of the Massey Business School Advisory Board.

Who is the female mentor who has most inspired you?

It's hard to name one female who has inspired me as it's been a number of women and men that I have been blessed to know through the years who have given me inspiration and encouragement. My grandmothers were strong Texan women who instilled in me the desire to work hard at whatever you choose to do, always have respect and grace for those around you and never let anyone tell you you can't do something because you are a woman.

They also told me that education is one thing no one can ever take away from you – they can take your job, your house or other things you care about, but education will always be your treasure. I have relied on their teachings through my life even though they passed on many years ago, but find that perseverance, a good attitude even when the going is tough and trying to learn something new every day have been strong values and inspiration to live a life I am proud of.

What’s the one piece of advice you would give a young woman starting out in her career?

To young women starting out now, I would definitely advise getting as much education as possible before getting into full career mode. A solid foundation and education in technology (not necessarily computer programming) will always serve you well.  Understanding how technology underpins R&D, sales, HR management and virtually every aspect of a business is critical. I'd also say to explore options and don't be afraid to try something you don't fully understand. No one was born an expert in their chosen field – we are all beginners at some point.

The value you gain early on in trying different things will give you an edge and better insights in whatever field you end up. I was a waitress, a paralegal, a horse groom and worked in a car yard all before I was 23 years old. I know what it's like to work in hospitality, how to save a life, what to look for in a variety of legal contracts, have a love of animals and can drive just about any car! Believe it or not, these skills have come in handy in may ways through my career and give me insight and empathy into a huge variety of businesses and people. Being a good CEO or board director means having a massive database of skills and experience to rely on for an infinite number of situations that come up. Build your database early on with education and experience, you won't regret it.

What’s the single achievement you are most proud of?

I would say that I am most proud of what I have achieved as an immigrant to New Zealand. When I arrived here just before my 25th birthday, I certainly didn't have much money, no job and no real idea of how to make a start in my new home country. I chose to leave the United States to look for some adventure and had always dreamt of coming to New Zealand – I did a report on the country when I was 11 years old an had always been fascinated with it.

From my humble beginnings renting a small house in Kelston and working temp jobs in data entry, I worked hard to start my own business and became focused on a getting into the tech industry in the late 90s. I can truly say that I charted my own destiny, took advantage of opportunities as they came up and upskilled in business studies at Massey to get where I am today, 18 years later. It hasn't been easy by any stretch but I am certainly grateful for the opportunities to create a fabulous career and life here in New Zealand, and I am proud of the person I have become.

What are you currently trying to achieve using your influence?

I would like to further develop my skills and experience as a board director and become the best I can be in terms of advising  companies on how they can transform themselves to commercialise their products and/or services to reach deep into offshore markets. New Zealand's economic success relies on businesses to sell more internationally to increase our GDP onshore. Through innovative commercial dealings, the use of technology and upskilling our management teams, we are well on the way to uplifting the country's prosperity and stability.

The 2016 Women of Influence Award winners will be announced at an Awards Dinner at SKYCITY in Auckland on October 12. To view a full list of finalists click here.



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