Co.People: our founder & board

tara lorigan mnzm – founder/ceo

tara 0315 Tara was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Business and Women in 2016.

(at a glance…) I started out in the IT industry as a marketer progressing into a range of senior roles in NZ and the UK for multi nationals such as Apple, Sun , IBM and 3Com. I moved to working with smaller businesses during the dot com boom and ultimately to a fab start-up in London. I came back to NZ when the boom went bust and founded my own business to support smaller home grown businesses like Pita Bread Ltd and the iconic Bookabach grow.  Things  took a further turn when I took up the role of running the country’s award winning Business Incubator, the AUT Innovation Park where, I worked alongside start-up entrepreneurs and developed the Incubators highly successful Rapid Growth Programme (we won the Vero ‘Excellence in Business’ award for that).  I decided next to try to develop a business that could grow beyond me and started a research project that led to the launch of Co.OfWomen.

“It all sounds like a neat linear journey when you look at it written down but while it’s been anything but a straight line, with the benefit of hindsight it’s a bit awe inspiring to see how it’s all connected.  When I decided to grow a business beyond myself, I really thought I knew more than I did…  When I finally realised this, it took a while for me to sort that.  Turns out that makes me a pretty good fit here.  I feel enormously proud to spend my time surrounded by experienced, generous women who are committed to making a huge difference to other women like me and about what we will achieve because of this.  If you’re not one of the thousands of women who have already joined us, let me extend that invitation to you right now. It’s my personal promise to you that you will be in the very best of company.”

theresa gattung CNZM – chair

Theresa Gattung 2015Theresa is renowned for her strong business acumen having headed up Telecom (now known as Spark) at the age of 37. Her most recent business venture is as a co-founder and Director of the multimillion-dollar My Food Bag business. She is an investor, director and philanthropist.

I’ve always been a strong advocate for women in business so Co.OfWomen is a natural fit. I see some of the biggest barriers for female entrepreneurs as getting the right support team around them and actually asking for help. Co.OfWomen does just that by surrounding them with relevant, trustworthy champions and programmes that build commercial confidence, minimise business risk and ensure momentum. I’m excited about my new role as Chair and I’m looking forward to helping strengthen our female entrepreneurs.”

wynnis armour – deputy chair

After a diverse and successful management career in both the private and public sectors, Wynnis sold a highly profitable retail start-up and went blue water sailing.  After she returned to New Zealand she co-founded and developed the Madison Group (one of New Zealand’s largest and most successful staffing solutions providers). in 2013 The Madison Group was the subject of a trade sale to a listed entity and Wynnis is now directly involved in two new start ups and actively supports women in business. Wynnis is a double major graduate with post graduate papers in Counselling, Educational Psychology and Linguistics from the University of Canterbury.

“I am delighted to participate on the board as I’m a firm believer in the inherent entrepreneurial nature of many women in business and also aware of the challenges we face.  The opportunity to be involved in something that makes a real difference in supporting entrepreneurial success is something I feel passionate about. Doing this alongside other experienced entrepreneurs is really inspiring.”

sharon hunter

Sharon Hunter 1Sharon is the founder of the hugely successful business PC Direct which she built up from nothing to what became New Zealand’s largest and most successful personal computer company.  Sharon has extensive entrepreneurial, business and governance experience.  Together with Tenby Powell she is an owner and director of Hunter Powell Investment Partners, a private capital investment & SME/not-for-profit advisory firm. Sharon was inducted into the New Zealand Hall of Fame for Women Entrepreneurs in 2012.

“Co.OfWomen is a unique platform that’s resonated strongly with me for some time.  The chance to participate through a board that is underpinned by a strong mandate to help women be successful is really exciting.  I’m especially passionate about the support we can bring for our members who will require external funding to support growth”.

sarah paykel mnzm

Sarah was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Business in  2016.

Sarah is the Director and founder of PR & Communications company, Sarah Paykel Ltd. In the late 90’s she co-founded Lush Cosmetics Australasia,  a retail and manufacturing business with 13 stores and 250 staff based in Sydney, which saw her win the Young Australian Entrepreneur Award in 1999. Her career also includes 3 years working at British Vogue Magazine in London in the early 90’s and Sales & Marketing Manager for Chanel fragrance & beauty in New Zealand the early 2000’s.

Sarah sits on the Board of the New Zealand Mental Health Foundation and is a trustee of Q Theatre in Auckland.  Sarah is a member of the Friends of KidzFirst Hospital South Auckland and consults to a number of charitable trusts and non for profit organisations.

“I joined Co.OfWomen as I love that it offers a gateway for connecting fledgling and successful entrepreneurs to each other and ensures they have the tools and support they need to succeed.  The opportunity to support the growth and development of an organisation focused on female entrepreneurial success is something I really enjoy participating in.”

rannjna patel QSM

ranjna patel 0514Ranjna is a founder and director of the East Tamaki Healthcare (ETHC) Group of Companies, a significant network of general medical clinics across Auckland, working with over 185,000 patients. Ranjna holds a range of leadership, advisory and governance roles and is heavily involved in community health promotions with the Ministry of Health and Counties Manukau DHB to enhance and promote health awareness among the local communities in South Auckland. Ranjna was awarded Best Businesswoman of the Year in the Indian Business Awards’ and  a finalist in the Business Entrepreneur category of the Women of Influence Awards 2013.  Together with her husband, she has been awarded a QSM for her work in the Indian Community and was inducted into the New Zealand Hall of Fame for Women Entrepreneurs in 2014.

mimi gilmour

mimi gilmour 0715 hofIn 2015 Mimi Gilmour was recognised by The New Zealand Hall of Fame for Women Entrepreneurs for her achievements and support of female success. She joins the board of Co.OfWomen to add that experience and passion and to have an even greater impact.

Founder of the Mexico Group, Mimi Gilmour opened her first restaurant at the age of 26.   Now 31, she has five restaurants brands under her belt with the most recent development, fish fish, a spin off brand from her rapidly growing burger burger restaurants.

“Co.OfWomen is a powerful voice in New Zealand business and one that I’m extremely grateful to have had by my side as I’ve grown my businesses.  I feel incredibly humbled to have been appointed to the board and looking forward to what I can contribute and, to learning from this group of women. I can’t wait to work with these leaders to celebrate all that great businesswomen in New Zealand can and will contribute to this country and beyond.”


previous board members

dr lee mathias ONZM – founding chair, patron

Lee Mathias 1
Lee was the founder of Birthcare and is a recognised leader and a significant innovator in the healthcare sector where she has had an enormous impact in her long career. She sits on the board of a number of private entrepreneurial businesses and public sector initiatives. In 2013 Lee was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her contributions to both the Healthcare and Business sectors. In 2015 she was inducted into the New Zealand Hall of Fame for Women entrepreneurs.

“Being successful as an entrepreneur is the most exciting part of the business experience but it can also be a slow, tough road and, at times, a truly lonely one.  Entrepreneurship is about being innovative, doing business in different ways to get and maintain the competitive advantage that will ensure sustainability, and all the benefits success brings with it. Women often have compelling ideas about doing things differently but can get stifled by the traditional framework of business as well as by our own distinctive Achilles heels.

I joined Co.OfWomen as I could see that this organisation was meeting a real and previously unmet need for entrepreneurial women, offering relevant support I would have been very grateful to have at different points in my own entrepreneurial journey.

I’m in the fortunate position now, where I can offer my experience to create a positive impact as my role, in chairing Co.OfWomen, focuses on setting the strategic direction, creating a clear and compelling vision for us and importantly, being the chief champion of success for our members. I very much look forward to this journey and to meeting many of you along the way.”

rhonda kite

Rhonda is the founder & president of the KIWA Media Group a global digital publishing business publishing titles for the iPhone and iBook.  She has a passion and flair for film and television production and has won many awards in both fields. Rhonda, a successful film producer in her own right, pioneered the localization and dubbing industry in New Zealand and remains the largest provider of dubbed television programming in the South Pacific region. Offering the highest quality and most cost effective programming drove Rhonda to commission development of innovative translation and ADR cueing system now in use all over the world. Rhonda is now based in the middle east focused on growth of the business there.

“I am excited to have been involved in Co.OfWomen at board level and the ability to pass on what I have learnt and indeed continue to learn. An organisation that supports and offers mentorship to woman entrepreneurs including start up level is welcomed and timely. I have relied on other women for support and guidance in my achievements and I would like to give back, this role allowed me the opportunity and pleasure to do this”.

bronwyn richardson

Bronwyn’s entrepreneurial journey began in 1992 when she and a friend formed a catering company, Classic Catering (primarily driven by the need to support a growing family).  Starting with corporate/wedding and private functions they soon discovered the need to provide the bereaved families of Auckland an After Funeral Catering service.  This niche became their core business and after eight years, with a staff of forty four and numerous contracts the decision was made to enter the Australian marketplace branded as Celeste Catering.  They grew into the largest bereavement catering company in Australia and for almost a decade were the largest in this niche in Australasia.

” The opportunity to use what I have learnt to support other women is something I highly value, especially to help women at the early stage of the journey so it isn’t unnecessarily longer than it need be.  The opportunity to collaborate with other successful entrepreneurs to support women who are still working out their own path to success is something I feel fortunate to participate in.”