8 March 2021
International Women’s Day is an opportunity to recognise and celebrate the contribution of women in the workplace. This year’s International Women’s Day theme selected by the United Nations is ‘Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world’ and calls for reflection on not only celebrating achievements, but also looking forward to what we can do to promote a more inclusive world.
Michelle Malcolm, Accounting and Business Advisory Partner, has worked at Findex for more than 28 years and now leads a predominantly female based team in Tauranga. Michelle and her team are the perfect example of the leadership we celebrate today on International Women’s Day. In both her leadership success and her journey to get there, and despite the universal challenges presented by COVID-19, Michelle demonstrates unwavering commitment to her clients and an inspiring passion for her work.
In a recent client success story beginning in the peak of lockdown in 2020, Michelle met with Rob Vickery, founder of Hillfarrance Venture Capital. After some dissatisfaction with the service from a previous accounting firm, Rob was referred to the Findex New Zealand team and was met with Michelle and the team’s warmth and expertise. Since their initial meeting, Michelle’s team has been working alongside Rob to support the set-up of a 40 million dollar venture capital fund in New Zealand to invest in start-up Software-asa-Service companies. Operating as his virtual financial controller, Michelle and the Findex New Zealand team continue to work very closely with Rob, his lawyers and his investors collaborating across both New Zealand and around the world, providing accounting, tax and structural advice and helping to facilitate a favourable onboarding process for investors when they join the Hillfarrance Family.
Rob Vickery provided a glowing recommendation of Michelle and her team, thanking them for their support and the ongoing relationship they have built together:
“Michelle Malcolm, Mickaela Healy, Greg James, Samantha Mellow, Hannah Darroch and the rest of the Tauranga Findex team are one of my most important partnerships and a valuable asset to Hillfarrance Venture Capital. They diligently and proactively handle all our financial needs, they have helped my family and I settle into New Zealand, and they have become our friends and trusted partners. The way in which they work with our investors and portfolio companies is remarkable and they rave about what the Findex team does for them.
Hillfarrance would not be the success it is today without Michelle and the team. If you are searching for a new accounting firm, then I could not recommend anyone else more highly.”
In honour of International Women’s Day 2021, we put Michelle under the spotlight and asked her some questions about her advice to other young women pursuing their careers, as well as some insights into her personal journey with Findex and how we can all progress to achieve an equal future and rise above exclusionary ideas in the workplace.
How does this year’s theme, ‘Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world,’ resonate with you?
This is really important to me. When I first started my working career, there were not many women in leadership roles, and no female partners within the firm or any managers that were working mums. I set it as a goal for myself to prove that you could actually be a mum and still have a successful career! Having women in leadership roles is really important - in a leadership team, we tend to see matters differently to men which then creates a great mix.
Tell us about how you have progressed in your career at Findex
I have been working for Findex and its respective past firms since I started as a graduate 28 years ago. When I first started, there were not many women in leadership roles within the business. It was a goal of mine right from the start to become a Partner, and to be able to have a family as well, so I went about working hard to prove to people that you could do this, and do it well.
For me it was always important to stay true to who I am as a person and Findex has always allowed me to do this. So often you see women that think they need to behave like men to be successful, but this has never been the case within Findex. The culture has allowed me to grow and develop to be the person I am today and given me the support along the way to do this, which I am really grateful for. They have helped make the best person I can be as a leader and Partner within Findex, with one on one mentoring, sending me on specific training courses but most of all the leadership group within Findex believing in me and caring! You are never a number!
What has been your biggest achievement or career highlight to date?
My biggest highlights to date have been becoming Partner, which was huge for me, as that was a goal of mine since I was about 15 and opening our brand new office in Tauranga last year. It took 20 years of hard work to get to this, and it is something I am very proud of every day when I walk into the office. It is so nice for my team to have a nice place to work that they are proud of. I am also very proud of my team - I am very lucky I have a great team who are mostly women, and I am so proud how each year I see them all grow and develop into the best people they can be to provide the best service possible to our amazing clients.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to another woman pursuing their career goals?
My one piece of advice would be stay true to yourself and believe that you can do whatever you set your mind to!
Who is a woman who inspires you and why?
There are many women that inspire me - Lady Diana, Michelle Obama to name a couple, as when you listen to their stories the great thing, I think they have done has always been to stay true to themselves and rise to any challenge that was put in front of them!
In light of this year’s theme, what do you think is the most important step we can make in the workplace to “achieve an equal future in a COVID-19 world?”
Keep allowing women to grow within the firm and be the best they can be in leadership roles. Keep supporting women and believing in us and make that a part of our everyday culture like I have experienced!
How have you seen Findex make progress in achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world?
I have definitely seen Findex grow in this area - we are seeing more and more women in executive roles within Findex which is fantastic, as all of these women become role models for younger women within the business and helps them believe they can also achieve this! This is so important. I also love that Findex embraces family and work/life balance, a very important part of our culture.
Findex is proud to support International Women’s Day and is committed to seeing women in the workplace soar to even greater heights. We consider the theme to be particularly relevant to our workplace culture given our shift to a dynamic working model and approach to work in a post COVID-19 world.
We’ve found that along with these changes have come new opportunities to live and work in a more balanced way – prioritising what is most important, increasing efficiency, job satisfaction and accelerating the adoption of technology and digital tools.