6 Leaders Explain What Advice They Would Give Their Younger Selves

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Over the course of our lives, we find ourselves making fundamental decisions. It’s these decisions that have the potential to change the course of our future and, as we grow older and build on our experience, these decisions become notably wiser.

Now, mistakes. We’re all human and we’ve all made them along the way but, more often than not, these mistakes turn into opportunities! That being said, if you were given the chance to go back in time and give your younger self a piece of advice, what would it be?

In August, The Women in Insurance and Wealth Management Leadership Summit is running in Auckland. The event will bring together some of the most successful leaders in the industry to share stories, strategies and advice on how to become an effective female leader in a male-dominated industry.

Coming back to the question, “What advice would you give your younger self?”, we asked some seasoned leaders and here is what they had to say.


Jo Hutchinson Founder Great Spirit NZ Ltd

Go outside and observe nature.  Look at the sky, the water, the forest, the horizon and you will see that it is never ending – the infinite potential of possibility and potential lies before you.  It’s up to you to grab it, make it your own and craft your passions and talents in ways that honour your uniqueness and that contribute to the greater good. Listen to your heart. Let it guide you to create the future you want to live in, the company you want to be a part of and leave a legacy the contributes to something more than just yourself.


Helen McDowall General Manager, Customer Services AMP Services New Zealand

  • Maths is important – you will use that weird and wonderful stuff.
  • Travel is invaluable – addictive and expensive, but invaluable to your development as a fully rounded human being – and leader.
  • Take the best out of every leader you work for and use it to inform the leader you become. Learn from the less fabulous ones too!
  • Back yourself – be brave and audacious. Support other women in the workplace too.
  • Remember to be kind to others – and yourself.


Debra Chantry, Leadership Coach DebraChantry.com

Ask for help; In my early career, I saw asking for help as a sign of weakness. That people would think I didn’t know how to or wasn’t capable of doing my job. Now I appreciate the power of asking for help, not only in the diverse thinking that it offers but also the privilege that you allow people to have by helping you. Humans like to help.  You know how it feels when you help others. Allowing people to help you will challenge your thinking, gives you greater collective thinking power, can help you to achieve more & makes them happy too… Sounds like a win, win, win.


Rebecca Russell, Principal Consultant, Diffusion Consultancy Limited

“I am often amazed at how life has turned out. If I could go back in time here’s 5 things I would tell my younger self.”

  1. Failure is not failing. You either succeed the first time, or you count it as a practice, learn from it and dazzle next time.
  2. Talk to people who inspire you, ask them questions, learn from them, share your ideas, ask for feedback.
  3. Never stop learning, pushing yourself or challenging yourself. Try something different – don’t stay stuck, do better.
  4. Don’t compare yourself to others. Your strengths and weaknesses are your own and you will have your own success, so enjoy the ride.
  5. Be fearless. Find your voice and don’t be afraid to use it.


Larissa Vaughan Head of Legal, Wealth and Digital Legal Lead Kiwibank

“You can fit most things into your life – usually just not all at once. Money doesn’t buy happiness but it can give you peace of mind and choices. Buy bitcoin, Auckland property and shares in Apple…early. Use sunscreen and save. Watch out for perfectionism as procrastination. Manage your attention or someone else will. Keeping running and reading. Be brave, curious and kind.


Michael Bartram Chief Actuary OnePath Life (NZ)

  • Be wary of following any advice if it doesn’t feel right, not matter who it is from 
  • Sometimes you have to say ‘no’ even if you don’t know how to say it; say it anyway
  • Sometimes the best way to move forward is to take a break for a bit
  • In a way, there are no wrong decisions. Whatever decision we make it can sometimes have unexpected consequences that turn out for the better long-term.

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