Significant Achievements Recognised

Significant Achievements Recognised

Social justice business guru, leading investment adviser, and fashion pioneer inducted into The New Zealand Hall of Fame For Women Entrepreneurs
(from right) Karen Walker, Audette Exel, Carmel Fisher

Adara Group founder, Audette Exel, Fisher Funds founder Carmel Fisher and global fashion icon Karen Walker were inducted in to the New Zealand Hall of Fame for Women Entrepreneurs, championed by leading female business organisation, Co.OfWomen, at an annual ceremony held this evenin

Theresa Gattung, leading businesswoman and Chair of Co.OfWomen says the Hall of Fame celebrates women who have become influential figures in their particular industries through building formidable businesses.

“The remarkable business acumen, drive and generosity shown by the women inducted tonight is testament to the diversity of talented female entrepreneurs we have in New Zealand, ” said Theresa.

The women inducted were selected in an open nomination process launched by Co.OfWomen during Women Entrepreneurs Week, running from March 6 to the 10th. Chosen by a panel of their peers, these women were selected for their significant achievements in business, their support for other women and for their philanthropic activities.

Co.OfWoman founder Tara Lorigan, who was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Business and Women in 2016, says the “Co.OfWomen works with female entrepreneurs right across the spectrum to enable them to harness their commercial potential.

Audette, Carmel and Karen have paved the way for others in their chosen industries setting potent examples for women entrepreneurs who want to go far.”

Female owned businesses make up 38% 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 female-owned businesses has grown by 20% since 2000.

Background on the New Zealand Hall of Fame for Women Entrepreneurs 2017 inductees:

Audette Exel

Audette Exel is the founder of the Adara Group – proof that the power of business can be used to improve the lives of people in poverty. The Adara Group is made up of two Australian corporate advisory businesses, Adara Advisors and Adara Partners, whose sole purpose is to support its non-profit development organisation, Adara Development.

Adara Development focuses on improving health and education for women, children and communities living in poverty, through best practice service delivery, conducting world-class research and sharing knowledge globally.

Audette is a lawyer by profession specialising in international finance. She was formerly Managing Director of one of Bermuda’s three banks, and acted as chair of the Bermuda stock exchange. She is one of the youngest women in the world to run a publicly-traded bank.

In 2015, Audette was a recipient of a World Class New Zealander Award and in 2016, was named Australia’s 2016 Leading Philanthropist by Philanthropy Australia.

Carmel Fisher

Carmel Fisher is the founder and Managing Director of one of New Zealand’s largest investment managers and KiwiSaver providers, Fisher Funds.

Since starting Fisher Funds in 1998, with a handful of clients and funds under management of $17 million, she has grown the business to manage more than $7 billion for 250,000 clients.

Fisher Funds is now the fifth largest fund manager and largest NZ-owned KiwiSaver provider.

Carmel has mentored a number of investment professionals, is a business commentator and thought leader, and known for her ‘plain English’ communication on explaining investment and personal finance topics to investors.

She has supported a range of charities and interest groups over a number of years, both privately and via Fisher Funds. As Carmel transitions from her full-time executive role later this year, she is looking forward to devoting time and energy in to developing her philanthropic interests.

Karen Walker

Fashion designer Karen Walker has become a global industry figure who is shaping the future of the fashion industry.

After establishing outlets in 1995, she began showing to Barneys New York in 1998, and had her first runway collection in 1998.

Her eccentrically elegant style has established a stellar international following for her ready-to-wear eyeware, jewellery, bags and fragrance.

Alexa Chung, Lorde, Rihanna, Gigi Hadid, Florence Welch and Lena Dunham count themselves amongst the formidable roster of celebrity fans.

The Karen Walker brand is available in 38 countries, 200 cities and 1020 stores including Barneys New York, Liberty London and Harvey Nichols.

Karen Walker’s commitment to social responsibility forms the basis of her business. Karen Walker works with Child Labour Free and is fully accredited for ready-to-wear manufacturing. She also works with the United Nations’ ITC Ethical Fashion Iniatiative

Karen has been an ambassador for Breast Cancer Cure for over 15 years. Karen Walker and its retail stores fundraise for the SPCA and the Make-A-Wish New Zealand projects throughout the year.

Hall of Fame Inductees:

2016 Inductees

Glennie Oborn

Erica Crawford

Cilla Hegarty

2015 inductees

Dr Lee Mathias, ONZM

Annette Presley

Julie Christie CNZM

2014 inductees

Ranjna Patel, ONZM

Dame Trelise Cooper

Diane Foreman, ONZM

2013 inductees

Anne Norman

Naomi Ballantyne, ONZM

Linda Jenkinson

2012 inductees

Colyn Devereux-Kay

Anita Finnigan

Sharon Hunter

For more media information contact or to speak with any of the inductees please contact: Jenny Keown from PR ink on 027 372 8577 or email

"It's about my success empowering other women."

Sophie Gilmour | for profit, for good | board chair