Inspiring Stories from exceptional leaders

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Women In Business - Inspiring Stories From Exceptional Leaders


There are many views on what makes great leader, what is often more fascinating, and inspiring is to hear how people became a leader and what they learnt along the way.

The journey to becoming a leader can take many forms, for some the pathway is academic leading to career followed by gaining experience and continued professional development. For others an operational path starting in an industry that they may not even see themselves staying in but finding themselves truly loving what they do and working their way up through internal or trade specific qualifications, learning from those around them and developing their skills in management until they find themselves leading a team.  For some it is just a set of circumstances that mean they find themselves in a position of leadership.

For some being a leader comes naturally for others it takes work, understanding your own strengths & weaknesses, surrounding yourself with great mentors and support, having firm values and beliefs, and ensuring you are always driving forward.

Join us to hear from three local leaders in community to hear about their journey and their learnings and be inspired

Additional information


Ana Lyubich, Founder Excio

Ana is a co-founder of Excio Image Library ( and Photo Community. Her mission is to create a safe and welcoming community for photographers where they can feel confident sharing their work.
She is passionate about making sure that photographers are fairly rewarded for their work. Only by enabling direct collaboration between photographers and image users in a fair way, we can witness the greater impact photography can have for the good of society and the planet. Excio has more than 500 photographers, 35,000+ images in the Library and this year won the Wellington Gold Award in the Creative Category.

Ana loves challenges and puzzles. She is a mum to two daughters and two dogs. When she completes her mission of making photography world fair and sustainable, most likely you will find her helping a dog shelter.

Jo Jensen, Founder, Strictly Savvy

Jo Jensen is a savvy business boss, living her best life. Her passion is giving others the keys to success. She loves to share her secrets to streamlining, delegating, and making operational decisions that have you enjoying your business. 

She built New Zealand’s leading virtual assistant business, Strictly Savvy, from the ground up. The business now runs without her having to be hands-on day to day as she has a high performing, award-wining leadership team who report to her as needed.  

How is that possible? Well, Jo is a self-professed delegation queen! She loves systemising and automation and always finds the latest technology tools to boost productivity and efficiency. 

The freedom she’s found has allowed her to branch out. Jo owns and runs a short-term rental in Ohakune, where she now enjoys one glorious week per month with her husband.  

She also co-founded an online business, The VA Foundry, that allows her to work from anywhere she bases herself, coaching women around the globe to build their own thriving virtual assistant businesses. This latest venture has now led to the creation of a yearly online Virtual Assistant Summit, the annual NZ VA Awards plus a weekly podcast Jo co-hosts: The Sam + Jo VA Show. 

Paula Clarke, Founder, Go Architecture

Paula has been working in the Architectural industry for over 12 years and is the director of GO architecture which she started in 2017 in the Hutt.

She briefly attended university when she finished high school, but promptly ended up out of study and raising a young family.

She has spent her whole life in homes under renovation and is always seeing the possibilities and solutions for challenging situations. On the weekends she loves to get out the tools and work on her own home.

As a single mum she studied a Bachelor of Engineering Technology (specialising in Architectural Technology) at Massey University in Wellington, once her youngest was old enough for school.

After experiencing work in the industry for several years, she decided it was time to create a business that was based on listening to the clients, so she could help to create a home that really works for them and their families – She loves seeing how a well-designed house improves people’s lives. 

GO architecture is now a total of 6 people all working towards the same goals to help support people in their renovation journey and provide sensible and insightful advice.

Vikki Lust, Owner, Belle La Vie

Vikki is the owner of Belle La Vie, a Petone based home and gift store and has a team of five amazing women who each play a vital role in keeping her dream alive. Prior to becoming a full-time “shop manager”,

Vikki has worked in leadership roles throughout her career, including 14 years in various Government roles.  The transition from leading teams in larger organisations to leading in your own small business has been bumpy at times, and particularly challenging this year but there is always lessons to be learned.

Event Information

WHEN: Thursday 16th February 2023 9am - 11am 

WHERE: Silversteam Retreat, 3 Reynolds Bach Drive, Stokes Valley, Lower Hutt 5019

COST: Members $35.00 + GST Non Members $45.00+ GST