On Wednesday last week we were able to host 40 local women in business at the Lower Hutt Events Centre to hear from Elaine Kirk, National Sales Manager of Bronze Partner iPayroll and the entrepreneurial Derelee Potroz- Smith.
iPayroll was established in 2021and is a cloud-based payroll solution developed in New Zealand, for New Zealand businesses of all sizes. They were the first system to fully integrate with Xero and have a support team based here in New Zealand to ensure their customers are fully supported whenever they need it. They are New Zealand’s leading PAYE intermediary with Inland Revenue, making it simple for users to run each pay, manage leave, tax, and employee records. The software also has an employee kiosk which allows them to view their payslips, pay history, tax summaries, and apply for leave easily and efficiently. Their Business Development Manager Pip King gave a quick overview of the system and the benefits of its capability to users including the time savings that can be achieved and reinvested into your company by having your payroll process taken care of quickly and efficiently each week.
Derelee Potroz-Smith is the Founder of Woolchemy NZ. Derelee took the time to tell the story of her life growing up in a farming community one hour north of New Plymouth with her parents, she described her experience of being bought up with three brothers and attending a decile 3 school with just 20 other children and how eventually this helped her to find her purpose in life and begin Woolchemy NZ .
She explained that education was not a priority for her family and how she would often have to miss school to help on the farm and how her families traditional views of the role of women meant she would often cook and clean for the family and that she had accepted this until seeing this poster “ GIRLS CAN DO ANYTHING”
She told us of how this along with seeing her family struggle in 1989 as their income from wool dropped by 90% spurred her on to change her future. She talks of becoming fearless and being comfortable with being uncomfortable and putting her hand up for anything, she eventually enrolled in University to study engineering, the first of her family to attend university and the only female on her course and having never used a computer it was a steep learning curve.
Derelee went on to have a very successful career in Software engineering. After taking time out to have children she describes feeling lost and unsure of what was next until she rediscovered her purpose , which was to help people and our planet thrive.
She realised while doing what all mothers do and changing a nappy and a she realised just how unsustainable these products are, with one cup of oil in every nappy, the average child using an average of 4500 nappies and each one taking 500 years to breakdown into tiny plastic particles that in turn contaminate our waterways causing irreputable damage to plants, animals and humans.
Horrified by what she has discovered, Derelee decided the solution to this waste was to create a material that replaced the plastic materials with biodegradable materials made from natural fibres like wool. Going back to her routes and to something she loved (sheep and farming) she worked with her mother to create Woolchemy NZ and began the process to make intelligent eco-logical materials made from sheep wool for global healthcare manufacturers of personal hygiene products like nappies, sanitary pads and wipes.
As well as explaining about the materials that she has engineered and how the technology is developing, Derelee explained the importance of finding your purpose in life and how once you have found that purpose it becomes easier to manage work and life. She discussed the work life balance myth by David McNeff and that the perfect balance is when you expand into the other slices of life. Often you are doing this already so it is almost about being conscious of what you do, and do the things you love the most.
Before concluding, she touched briefly on women in governance and encourages women to step up and join boards, as in New Zealand less than 30% of board directors are Women. Derelee talked about joining the Women In Leadership Programme organised by KiwiNet to promote female diversity on boards and gave some practical advice on how to go about joining boards and potentially being a professional director as a career option.
Derelee’s story was inspiring and uplifting, it was really enjoyed by all participants.