The Women of Icebreaker
March 7, 2017
Words: Corine Belcher, Nicola Simpson, Carla Murphy
"Our first seven employees were all women. Three went onto having their children while being promoted to country GMs across NZ, AU and USA. I probably had a bias due to growing up with three older sisters and six nieces. Starting with a group of strong women helped us build a really supportive and dynamic culture at Icebreaker." - Jeremy Moon, Founder, Icebreaker
To celebrate the power of International Women's Day we are profiling the brave, powerful and passionate women of Icebreaker. Discover their roles, who inspires them and how they seek ‘pause’.
Corine BelcherWhat is your role at Icebreaker and what do you enjoy most about it?
I’m the Design Lead for Icebreaker Brand. It’s a great job because it’s a very authentic and inspiring brand. I really love refining and building what it means visually in all the different mediums we get to work in.
Don’t be afraid of change. The worst part about being afraid of change is that you can end up settling for whatever happens."
My nana Bev. She is full of energy and she’s always giggling, which is often contagious. She still plays hockey and works part time at the age of 79. She inspires me to make lifelong relationships. Ever since I was a girl she has had the same gorgeous group of friends. She’s incredibly giving, especially at Christmas when she can’t resist but give gifts to her 7 children, all their partners, 21 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren. She’s the matriarch of our family and we all love and admire her.What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given by a woman and why?
From a teacher in high school, "Have confidence in yourself - you have to before anybody else will".
Don’t be afraid of change. The worst part about being afraid of change is that you can end up settling for whatever happens. The truth is that this is a far more frightening way to live because you don’t have the feeling of being in control of what happens to you. Having the confidence to embrace and create change ultimately will provide you with a life full of purpose and adventure. The best times of my life have all sparked an initial fear but over-coming that is the best feeling.What gives you purpose?
Family is very important to me, I have moved away from my home town and sometimes I feel my sister who stayed does a bit more for the family. I’d like to be able to help some of my family someday.How do you seek ‘pause’?
I am an active relaxer so yoga or walking on the beach leaves me feeling revitalised. I don’t find it easy to meditate but when I do yoga I know I’m not thinking about anything, so just being present is close enough for me. I also find pause when I am in a creative zone, like cooking or gardening. I see this same zone in my partner when he plays his guitar.
Nicola SimpsonWhat is your role at Icebreaker and what do you enjoy most about it?
I’m the Chief Operating Officer of Icebreaker. I love it because absolutely no day is the same. You never know what is going to happen. It is challenging and rewarding, and probably quite unique in terms of the combination of leading both HR as well as our global supply chain.Which women have inspired you & why?
In the more traditional sense, Sheryl Sandberg, - her ‘Lean In’ book is brilliant. She has achieved incredible stuff in her career, and she’s been unbelievably strong since the death of her husband recently.
And solo working parents – those people that manage to juggle everything involved with raising healthy kids while working full time, and do it all by themselves, are inspiring.
I also went to an event at my daughter’s new school recently and the new Head Girl presented. She spoke so succinctly, clearly, and sincerely. She didn’t seem rattled by the fact that there were a hundred odd parents staring at her. She just seemed a very confident, lovely, humble, strong, young woman. I was very impressed at what an amazing young woman she was and she had only just turned 17.What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given by a woman and why?
‘Stop swearing so much’ from my mother. Not that I have listened to her but it was good advice because I can be inappropriate sometimes.
Have dreams, but have multiple dreams, because you actually don’t know what you don’t know until you have had certain experiences – and that comes with age. You need to be flexible and be prepared to change, and not be precious. Move on quickly. There will be set-backs as there is no easy road, but learn from those experiences and get on with it.
Don’t let anybody tell you what you can and can’t do. You can do whatever you want. My dad always said to me girls can do anything, and growing up with two older brothers, there was no way I wasn’t going to have a go at everything they did. Don’t let yourself think that there is any difference between what women and men can achieve.What gives you purpose?
Probably fairness and equity. This is a hard question – I think you have to be just thankful for what you’ve got and appreciate it. If you can achieve stuff that helps others – contributing to the world, helping your mates, pulling your weight in your community, being there for colleagues... that gives me purpose.
And getting shit done! At the end of the day if you have ticked a lot of things off your list – both and work and personally it’s a good feeling.How do you seek ‘pause’?
With a glass of wine!
My favourite place is Wanaka and being in the mountains. The feeling of being small and insignificant in comparison, and remembering I am a tiny human on a massive planet – it puts things into perspective.
Carla MurphyWhat is your role at Icebreaker and what do you enjoy most about it?
I’m the Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer at Icebreaker, which means I create the direction for the brand. It’s fast paced, creative, and full of good. It’s a great responsibility to steer a brand beyond just being a business. For me that’s easy, as Icebreaker is a people organisation, made up of passionate, committed and creative individuals, there’s a belief in the possibilities of everything, and with such heritage we have a united responsibility to our consumers to maintain our drive and passion to enable their adventures.Which women have inspired you & why?
My mum for being stronger and fairer than I could ever be. I’m still learning. My nan, for teaching my mum how to be. I’m looking forward to being able to say to my older self, thank goodness I got their genes and wisdom, it’s still a while coming right now!
Other than that, I have enormous respect and admiration for any woman that just finds the drive and desire to pursue her own dreams, in business, in sport, in life. There are some incredible women and men leading the charge for women’s equality and it’s never been a better time to be an entrepreneur or figure out what you want to be.
I’ve met and worked with many inspiring women, and those that connect with me most are those that know their own strength, have an inner confidence and compassion, knowing they are on their own journey – not somebody else’s. It’s very contagious to be around people with such focused outlooks.
A close friend Chloe Chick never ceases to amaze with her ability to create organisations for the good of others, over and over, whilst managing being a business owner and mum. Check out her latest venture for young girls. sisugirls.org.What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given by a woman and why?
"Only do now what you can be proud of in years to come".
As a mum, daughter, sister, friend and a colleague, there is never enough time to go around to ensure you are doing the right thing for everyone, all of the time. So I try to remind myself that I am in control of the choices I make and that they define me and my children and my life. So that means every day is about choices and making sure they are balanced, so that the best version of me is where it needs to be at a given number of times in the day. It’s a balancing act, and it never gets any easier. Just part of being a woman.
Be fearless. Be courageous. Embrace your awkward self. Now is not forever and you can do and be anything you want.What gives you purpose?
My children, my running, my family and my work.
I run long off-road into the hills. Finding the time to only focus on one thing at a time is rare. When running in the hills or mountains there’s no time to multitask, all my concentration is on the sound of my breathing and my feet touching the ground. Sublime.
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