BiograView: How do you view the successes you have had in the 19 years you have been in New Zealand?
Ingrid: The successes started in the business. Gradually we were growing. We have a very high quality pancake product. We had to extend our building twice. Bring in bigger machines, triple the capacity. That big capacity is nearly too small now. We have to figure out what we can do: Bring in an extra line – a bigger one? We can hardly fulfil our amount of orders. So, the successes I had, were probably…. I’m quite good at making deals. Also growth came faster when we started working with distributors who had a bigger salesforce. There is a difference in mentality in how you do business here in New Zealand. In Europe they are more direct. You sit down at the table and you talk facts and figures. Here you have to talk about the rugby and about this and that and you name it, so you have to see people two or three times before you come to a certain conclusion.
BiograView: Do you find, now you’ve had more relationships going for a longer period of time, people get used to how you relate?
Ingrid: Yes. You try to work around it. That’s the type of thing I am actually good at. I think everybody has to be fair, everybody has to be in a win/win situation. I learnt a lot in the beginning. My husband occupied himself with the production and I did all the other stuff. In that way I was growing. I did everything myself. After a while, you could have a staff member take over from you. Then you have your team you have to look after. I did Human Resources, Marketing and Sales, a Food Safety Program… After a while I had salespeople. I employed somebody to look after the marketing and had somebody to help me out with food safety whom I sent to all the courses so she knew what she was doing. As she was doing fine, little by little I could delegate everything. Then you grow. Everybody grows because I was the one who knew everything as first of all I did everything myself. And as such you can guide people from your experience. Then you let them do their job in their own way.
BiograView: How did you get involved with the Business Awards of the Chamber of Commerce?
Ingrid: My bank manager invited me to a talk at the bank, introducing people to what the awards can mean, and how to apply to enter the competition. I went there to do him a favour, more so than what my own interest was in winning an award. Someone told me during network time: “If you want to export, if you want to enter Asia, they take an award of the Chamber of Commerce in very high regard. That will open doors.” That is the only thing I wanted to know. That was for me the benefit. I went home and entered in four categories: Innovation, Medium Size Business, Employer, and another one. You have to defend your company in a kind of dragon’s den. I went from one Dragon’s Den to the other. The Chamber of Commerce have three specific judges for each category. At the award ceremony, all of a sudden they called our name. I did not even have a speech ready – I didn’t expect they would call me on stage – “Oh my god we have an award!” I was there with my husband only – when you think you will get an award you go with your crew. Oh my god! A little bit later again they called my name. “Oh thank you so much!” (Laughter) Oh wow, two awards, that’s something. A little bit later, the third award! (Laughs) “I don’t know anymore what to say – Thank you.” That was the first time I enrolled and got all these awards.
BiograView: That’s an amazing achievement. How long ago did that happen?
Ingrid: That was in 2015. After the first time we entered for the awards we entered again two years later and won a few awards including the Supreme Award. I was there with my whole crew – all the managers. I was speechless as I never thought we would have won the Supreme Award. That was in 2017. Everything escalated from there and that is when we appointed the new CEO. She has entered the awards this year also. She won the Large Business Excellence Awards.
BiograView: You were growing as a person.
Ingrid: We had this new big line and wanted to make new products. I went for a grant for innovation for a new product. We had to export. When you expand your business, New Zealand is too small. I followed the School for Export, a two year course. After the first year and part of the degree… then it came – the shift in my life. The tutor called me and said: “Congratulations, you have achieved the highest points ever in our school. That is quite an achievement. We would like to come out with all the tutors and invite you and your husband to go to your choice of restaurant.” I was very happy with that, and jumped up from my chair. I told my husband I had 98% of the points. Amazing! He didn’t congratulate me but mentioned I had better spend my time on direct sales. I felt the energy get out of my body. That was the point I thought: “I can’t do this anymore. I have to get out of this company. I can’t cope with this anymore. It was so draining. That was the beginning. My son came to help me at many overseas trade shows. After a while he could work on his own so I could stay in New Zealand. I insisted that we move closer to town to have a life, to go out and make friends. A year later my son took over the marketing and I became CEO. We brought in two additional directors to the board. Six months later via a headhunter we found a new CEO to take over from me. I then left the company to start a new chapter in my life.
BiograView: Are you still involved with the company?
Ingrid: I am still half owner, together with my husband. We have a healthy company and we are growing. We had to go through major changes in our branding. We have new salespeople in Australia. I just follow my intuition. I calculate things and I am good at making deals. I can hold things together, I can build up good relationships, and I am willing to learn. What I am doing now with my life is – the fact that I went through a lot of obstacles – the moment I really figured out that it was all the patterns I took over from my mum – being submissive and so on – it depleted me so much. I think that is the message I have to bring. I try to bring women out of their cocoon and step into who they really are, who their real self is, go with their intuition, find their purpose, and try to do what makes them happy. Others around you will like you for the way you are then, too.
BiograView: That’s true. What do you see for your future for yourself?
Ingrid: I want to go global with Women Beyond Ordinary. With that we have the panel discussions I have started. Now we are going to do a podcast as well and reach out to women. We can do interviews with men as well. We also have the philanthropic part I want to do. In this case, when people buy a ticket to Women Beyond Ordinary, 10% goes to a good cause – education for Maori and Pacific women. I want to build up some stronger relationships there as well, which will do something for the community.
Shine, something else we are starting up, involves other platforms. We want to do events and have speakers from all over the world. Different things can come together but the main idea is to work with people who have the same vision, to give something back to New Zealand and to the globe. People who are already doing things or are successful in one way or another, but want to go that extra step and collaborate with others. Together you can form an alliance to do something that is good for everybody, that is good for the globe. We want to set up Zoom conversations and make collaborative groups. We invite a number of people we think are of the same mindset to join that Zoom conversation. Everyone can share what their main idea is. If you can not bring your idea into fruition without the help of others you can make little groups who can help each other. We can do events where we can have workshops for people. I am currently involved with a neuroscientist who is busy with consciousness and global warming. We want to do a three month program where we want to involve girls and women, groups of 25 to 30 maximum. Teach them different things about leadership for women, but also consciousness for the environment, and how to improve their lives. We will stream our videos which we can develop into an online course. We can also do one-on-ones. Women Beyond Ordinary comes under the big umbrella of Shine. We will have Shine NZ, and then Shine Global. We think everything has to start in NZ and then spread it out. I will also team up with people from the Entrepreneur Institute. The seeds are there, but it has to grow.
Two years ago I wanted to make an e-book about becoming a leader without knowing. I joined forces with eighteen others and we each wrote a chapter. Together we did the marketing and now we have a bestseller. On the back burner is a book about my own life. It’s not very urgent but I think it will happen.
Another thing I do – I give speeches. I rented space at the Len Lye Art Centre. I went to Reno, a city in America, to learn how to speak on stage. I created a slideshow to go with my speech and started training for it. I sent the introduction video to the CEO of M2 Magazine who is also involved with Shine. He asked me whether I could to a keynote talk. My talk was about diversity and inclusion which was printed in M2 Magazine. As a result someone contacted me to ask if I would be their keynote speaker at three different conferences in Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland. This will be in July and August 2020. I think my main thing is to give those speeches and then give platforms for people to talk and then develop a course which we can do under the Shine and Women Beyond Ordinary umbrella. From there it will be accessible on Zoom and YouTube, so we will bring New Zealand to the world. When I do meditation I see myself talking and healing. When I came to New Zealand, I got that I needed to heal. But how on Earth can you heal the world? I have no idea. But when you talk, and you can change something for people, that is also a form of healing. When you want to go global you have to do it on a higher plane and not just from New Plymouth. We need people who have the same vision and mission. Then, we have a strong team.