It would be a major understatement to say that Te Aho Tāmaka leader Linda Jenkinson is a high achiever. Linda was the first New Zealand woman to list a company on the NASDAQ stock exchange, she has built more than $700 million of value and created 8,000 jobs in global technology enabled start-ups.

On top of all this Linda has always been a contributor to making the world a better place. She co-founded WOW for Africa which is a social enterprise supporting women entrepreneurs in Senegal and is currently the Chair of UNICEF New Zealand.

We had the chance to chat with Linda about what really makes her tick and how growing up on a farm in Hiwinui has influenced her journey.

Linda, what opportunities did growing up in Manawatū give you and how did this influence your journey?

I had an idyllic farm and beach based childhood in Manawatū. Memories include pony club, A & P shows with my pet lamp, eeling and skating at Himatangi Beach, The Fitz, riding on the back of the tow truck at the stockcar. The Manawatū provided, and still does, plenty of opportunities for fun and adventure as well as work and tertiary education.

You have been hugely successful in business, worked incredibly hard and have not been afraid to take risks, what gave you that courage?

My father really was my role model here.  He was a very successful judo champion and instilled the concept of judo into life.  He was fearless and bought us up with the belief that we were only limited by ourselves.  He really believed I could do anything so I did!

You have passions beyond business and this is seen in your role with UNICEF – tell us more about what makes you tick.

When I went to Massey University I became obsessed with how to grow things. I did a technology degree and developed the belief that many of the world’s challenges could be solved by a combination of technology with different ways of thinking. When asked at the age of 23 what my life goal was, I answered “To make a difference in the world”.

The UN International Women’s Day theme this year is “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world”. What are your thoughts on how this might be achieved?

At the moment a core issue globally is lack of warm, affordable housing. I believe this challenge is completely fixable with technology and approaches we have today. Families need affordable, healthy and community oriented homes. If we fix this issue we will be well on the way to fixing the many other issues in terms of inequality that cascade from this lack of a basic necessity.

Why do you now want to ‘give back’ to Manawatū through Te Aho Tāmaka?

Because I believe in the circle of gratitude! The Manawatū supported me in my younger life, and my give back now is to help in any way I can!