Hil­lary Fel­low­ship to Waikato woman

Waikato News - - NEWS -

Waikato woman Ch­eryl Reynolds is one of only nine Ki­wis who has been ac­cepted into the Ed­mund Hil­lary Fel­low­ship (EHF), along­side 30 oth­ers from around the world.

The EHF is a three-year fel­low­ship that brings to­gether a com­mu­nity of vi­sion­ary en­trepreneurs, in­vestors and startup teams to cre­ate pos­i­tive global im­pact from New Zealand by help­ing them bring their pur­pose-driven ven­tures to life.

“It is very much fo­cused on chal­leng­ing the sta­tus quo, build­ing new par­a­digms, solv­ing press­ing global prob­lems, and im­pact­ing the course of hu­man­ity,” Ms Reynolds said.

“New Zealand is a coun­try where you can in­cu­bate ideas and then launch them to the global stage.”

Ms Reynolds said she feels hon­oured to be­come an Ed­mund Hil­lary Fel­low, and says the tim­ing of the fel­low­ship could not be more per­fect as she be­gins her next en­tre­pre­neur­ial ven­ture.

She cur­rently has 11 suc­cess­ful ven­tures un­der her belt and has 15 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence in the New Zealand’s startup scene.

Her en­tre­pre­neur­ial jour­ney be­gan in her 20s with her first project — Fo­cal Point Gallery, a contemporary pub­lic art gallery, which is still thriv­ing in the United King­dom where Reynolds grew up.

Af­ter sev­eral suc­cess­ful ven­tures in the UK, in­clud­ing a num­ber of so­cial en­ter­prises, Ms Reynolds moved to New Zealand in 2003.

She calls the Waikato home and says liv­ing in Raglan is her “par­adise on earth”.

Ms Reynolds has since es­tab­lished her­self as a lead­ing en­tre­pre­neur, found­ing SODA Inc as an en­trepreneur­ship hub and award­win­ning startup busi­ness in­cu­ba­tor pro­gramme.

From SODA Inc, she also co­founded Innes48, named af­ter the pi­o­neer­ing 1900s Waikato en­tre­pre­neur, Mary Jane Innes. Innes48 is a 48-hour high en­ergy startup com­pe­ti­tion, which is the largest event of its kind in New Zealand with $15,000 in prize money.

More re­cently, Ms Reynolds founded Mo­men­tum Waikato, a phil­an­thropic foun­da­tion that pools donor funds and dis­trib­utes grants strate­gi­cally to projects that can achieve trans­for­ma­tional in­ter­gen­er­a­tional change in the Waikato.

Mo­men­tum’s projects in­clude the Waikato Re­gional The­atre, and the three so­cial en­ter­prise projects se­lected to share the Foun­da­tion’s first $1mil­lion dis­tri­bu­tion through the Vital Im­pact Pro­gramme.

Dur­ing her time at Mo­men­tum Waikato, Ms Reynolds be­gan par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Com­mu­nity and En­ter­prise Lead­er­ship Foun­da­tion (CELF) pro­gramme, which brings to­gether busi­nesses and com­mu­nity not-for-profit or­gan­i­sa­tions to in­crease the lead­er­ship cap­i­tal of the Waikato re­gion.

“CELF is a won­der­ful pro­gramme, and I am very grate­ful to my spon­sor, Foster Construction, for their sup­port. The co-founders of CELF, David Irvine, Bernie Crosby and John Cook, have de­signed a truly bril­liant model that matches for-pur­pose with for­profit lead­ers who go on a shared learn­ing jour­ney to­gether. I’ve never seen any­thing like it in the world, it’s unique and it’s bril­liant that it’s happening here in the Waikato,” she said.

She says be­ing a part of the 2018 CELF El­e­vate pro­gramme has been a “per­sonal rev­o­lu­tion,” learn­ing about her own strengths through the Gallup strengths finder tool.

“I’ve spent my ca­reer look­ing out­wards at prob­lems, so­lu­tions, and im­pacts, but I’ve never re­ally looked in­wardly at my­self, ex­cept when look­ing at my own weak­nesses,” Ms Reynolds said.

“What the strength finder tool en­abled me to do in a way that I’ve never un­der­stood be­fore, was to fo­cus on my strengths, and the strengths of oth­ers, and how to lever­age and op­ti­mise them.”

It is some­thing that res­onated with her, so much so that she in­tro­duced this learn­ing tech­nique to her for­mer team be­fore leav­ing Mo­men­tum Waikato, as well as speak­ing about it at a re­cent work­shop.

“If you know your top strengths, you can work with them and am­plify them, but if you don’t know them then you’re likely to be stum­bling around in the dark in many ways, be­cause you’re un­aware of what your full po­ten­tial is.

“And be­cause we’re all hum­ble lead­ers, we don’t tend to re­ally look at our­selves other than to look at our own weak­nesses. We pay far too much attention to those, whereas we re­ally should fo­cus more on our strengths.”

Ms Reynolds left Mo­men­tum Waikato in De­cem­ber 2017 to be­gin startup ven­ture num­ber 12, which will com­bine her love of cre­ativ­ity, strate­gic phi­lan­thropy and so­cial en­trepreneur­ship.

Her aim is to build a new phil­an­thropic foun­da­tion as a cre­ative so­cial en­ter­prise that gen­er­ates smart cap­i­tal and makes it easy and re­ward­ing for peo­ple to con­trib­ute to build­ing a bet­ter world.

She is cur­rently in de­vel­op­ment mode and is look­ing for po­ten­tial co­founders and dig­i­tal plat­form part­ners for her new ven­ture.

Ms Reynolds is ea­ger to com­mence the Ed­mund Hi­lary Fel­low­ship pro­gramme this month and is look­ing for­ward to meet­ing the other Fel­lows to col­lab­o­rate, lis­ten and learn from all their di­verse ex­pe­ri­ences.

The Fel­low­ship is for life, and af­ter three years, cur­rent fel­lows will men­tor new fel­lows into the fu­ture.

“I’m so ex­cited, and so in awe of the other peo­ple that have been se­lected for the fel­low­ship, and I look for­ward to get­ting to­gether to cre­ate and co-col­lab­o­rate with them,” she said.

PHOTO / Sup­plied

Cheryl Reynolds.

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