Trailblazers inducted into Hall of Fame

Trailblazers inducted into Hall of Fame

Global engineering innovator, healthcare champion, and recruitment industry disruptor into the New Zealand Hall of Fame for women entrepreneurs.

Women's Power Week Launched Reading Trailblazers inducted into Hall of Fame 9 minutes Next Pioneers recognised by Induction to Hall of Fame
Global engineering innovator, healthcare champion, and recruitment industry disruptor into the New Zealand Hall of Fame for women entrepreneurs.

Dame Bronwen Holdsworth, Josephine Gagan, and Wynnis Armour QSM have been o the New Zealand Hall of Fame for Women Entrepreneurs, instigated by leading women business organisation, Co.OfWomen at the annual ceremony.

Entrepreneur and founder of Co.OfWomen, Tara Lorigan, says the Hall of Fame celebrates the significant business achievements and generosity of the country’s most successful entrepreneurs and creates explicit, diverse examples encouraging women working on their own success.

“The commercial drive matched with a desire to make a difference features strongly in women success and this year's inductees are eminent examples. Our country and economy is all the better for their endeavours” said Tara.

The women inducted were selected in an open nomination process launched by Co.OfWomen during Women Entrepreneurs Week, held in the first week of March each year.

Chosen for induction by a panel of their peers including Dame Julie Christie, Sharon Hunter, Ranjna Patel and Dr Lee Mathias, these women were selected for their significant achievements in business, impact on their industries, support for other women and for their philanthropic activities.

Co.OfWoman’s board chair, Theresa Gattung CNZM said; “Co.OfWomen works with women entrepreneurs right across the spectrum from early stage right through to experienced, enabling them to harness their commercial potential and leverage the influence and experience of the extensive, growing community. Bronwen, Josephine and Wynnis have paved the way for others in their chosen industries setting potent examples for woman who want to go far, as well as for those women who want their small business to be the best it can be.”

Women owned businesses make up more than 35% of New Zealand business, according to Statistics New Zealand, and the number of women opting for business ownership over employment continues to grow.

The number of women-owned businesses continues to grow, in particular by attrition from the corporate world where many women find the limitations of employment impacts on the level of flexibility supportive of family life.

Background on 2019 Inductees:

Dame Bronwen Holdsworth

Dame Bronwen is finance director and chairman of the Holdsworth Group, which includes industrial technology, farming, property and investment companies. The flagship company, Pultron Composites Ltd, is internationally regarded with world-class manufacturing facilities in Gisborne NZ and Dubai UAE.

Pultron is a leader in the research, development and manufacturing of high-performance glass fiber-reinforced polymer (GFRP) pultrusions. With a track record of rapid innovation and R&D achievement, Pultron has successfully developed more than 45 new specialist GFRP structural products for marine, mining, infrastructure, electrical, agriculture and recreation applications – including Mateenbar,Pultron’s proprietary composite rebar used internationally in various civil/infrastructure structures.

Over the years Dame Bronwen has also been involved with a range of activities, both locally and nationally, in the areas of the arts, education and business. Locally these have included Waikato University Adult Education Liaison; Tairawhiti Polytechnic Council; Tairawhiti Museum Council; East Coast Business Development Board; and the Gisborne Opera Festival.

Nationally these have included membership of a Ministerial Task Force on International Competitiveness; the steering committee for the APEC Women Leaders Conference; the Prime Minister’s Enterprise Council; a Ministerial Technological Innovation Working Group; a FRST Technology Advisory Committee; and State Services Commission CEO selection panel.

Among other directorships, Dame Bronwen has been on the boards of TVNZ; the NZ Symphony Orchestra (NZSO); and was establishing chairman of First Light Tourism. She is currently a trustee of the Gisborne War Memorial Theatre Trust; Te Hā 1769 Sestercentennial Trust; Gisborne International Music Competition Trust; Sunrise

Foundation; Mātai Medical Imaging Research Institute Trust; and a director of the NZSO.

Dame Bronwen was Business Woman of the Year in 1988; was awarded a NZ Commemoration Medal in 1990; an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) in 1997; a Gisborne Millennium Medal in 2000; and was made a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in June 2015 Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Josephine Gagan

A third-generation nurse, Josephine believed strong women role models of her mother and grandmother sowed the seeds for a career in the health profession. Josephine had fifteen years clinical nursing and health management experience originally in the UK, and then from 1987 in New Zealand and was one of the first students to complete the post graduate Diploma of Management (Health Services) at the Graduate School of Business at The University of Auckland.

Following her health management career, Jo became the Founder of Geneva Healthcare in 1996 which began as a specialist healthcare recruitment company, evolving into healthcare services delivery, to become one of the country’s largest and most respected providers of Home and Community services - including in-home support, nursing, rehabilitation and behavioural support. In 2017 Geneva was acquired by Healthcare Holdings (now known as New Zealand Health Group) and in May 2018, Jo was appointed as the Chief Executive of New Zealand Health Group Limited, to lead the largest community healthcare company in the country. The combined companies which include Geneva Healthcare, HealthCare New Zealand, Solora, NZ Care and Explore provide healthcare services to over 30,000 New Zealanders by employing over 12,000 staff with a combined turnover of $600 million a year.

Through Jo’s vision, the company today focuses on delivering nationwide, world class healthcare services that are driven through innovative, technology based solutions that meet high ‘touch’ personal, warm, supportive services to those who are vulnerable or in need of help.

Over the last two decades, Jo has been able to influence change in the sector by looking at smarter and better ways of delivering care in the community. Geneva was the first organisation to revolutionise the way carers were trained by developing leading edge online platforms to deliver training anywhere at anytime.

To date, Jo is the longest serving women CEO amongst lead service providers in the New Zealand healthcare industry. In November 2015, Jo was recognised for her contribution to the industry, and was celebrated by the Women of Influence Awards having been named as a finalist.

Jo also serves as the Chairperson of the Minds For Minds Charitable Trust, who raise funds to support the collective of researchers focused on autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This research connects families, clinicians and researchers to better understand the reasons for ASD and the likely course of challenges individuals may face living with Autism.

Wynnis Armour

After graduating from Canterbury University and forays to secondary school teaching and Adult Education provision, Wynnis held senior management positions in both the public and private sectors.

She was then appointed by the then Dept. of Internal Affairs and the Dept. of Women’s Affairs to the three- person Video Labelling Body (and government body set up to provide guidance to consumers of the age group appropriateness of video content in a previously unregulated market.)

She was awarded a 1990 Commemorative medal for this work by the Minister of Women’s Affairs.

In 1994, determined to start a new venture, she worked for one of the largest recruitment conglomerates and quickly rose to become the company’s highest biller and a member of the Executive Leadership team.

Wynnis then co-founded The Madison Group - one of New Zealand’s largest nationwide, staffing solutions companies. Specialising in white collar, temporary workforce provision and permanent recruitment the Madison Group was the recipient of many industry awards for innovation and excellence.

She has twice developed, taken to market and sold – very successful businesses – one being a complex internal sale and the other (the Madison Group) being acquired by a publically listed company in late 2013. The multi-million-dollar acquisition set a precedent for the industry.

Now, at the request of The Madison Group’s purchaser Wynnis sits on the Board of the publically listed staffing company, making her one of the (all too few) women presently serving on a NZ listed company’s board.

She manages 2 investment trusts both of which are focused (amongst other things) on producing funds to support a variety of philanthropic interests – all of which aim to redress the growing inequality in New Zealand.

She also advises a group of businesses around growth, exit strategies, entrepreneurial activity and governance but enjoys most working with innovative, entrepreneurial women-led start-ups.

She is a founding Director of ArcAngels (an Angel investment group that invests in women led, early stage companies), a Director/Trustee of the Canterbury University Foundation, a SheEO Activator, is on the advisory board of the Women’s Fund and a member of both Global Women and the Institute of Directors.

Following the 2019 inductions, the Hall of Fame now features 24 of the country’s most experienced and influential entrepreneurs – they are:

2018 Inductees

Dame Pieter, Stewart Peri Drysdale MBE, Mavis Mullins MNZM

2017 inductees

Carmel Fisher CNZM, Audette Exel, Karen Walker CNZM

2016 Inductees

Glennie Oborn, Erica Crawford, Cilla Hegarty

2015 inductees

Dr Lee Mathias, ONZM Annette Presley ONZM, Dame Julie Christie

2014 inductees

Ranjna Patel ONZM, Dame Trelise Cooper, Diane Foreman ONZM

2013 inductees

Anne Norman CNZM, Naomi Ballantyne ONZM, Linda Jenkinson

2012 inductees

Colyn Devereux-Kay, Anita Finnigan MNZM, Sharon Hunter

About Co.OfWomen

Co.OfWomen is a business support organisation that launched in 2012 and has quickly grown to a community of more than 2,400. The organisation is developed and lead by experienced, successful entrepreneurs in order to champion success, and is distinguished by a real-world focus. They offer both digital and hands on memberships and content that 100% features members and the intelligence and expertise that they and Co.OfWomen can together to champion women's success.

For further information on Co.OfWomen visit