Jessica’s journey and her commitment to empower young women


In a world where adversity often defines our paths, there are those who not only rise above their challenges but also extend a helping hand to uplift others. Meet Jess, a woman whose journey epitomises resilience, determination, and the transformative power of mentorship. As we celebrate International Women’s Day, her story inspires us to foster inclusion and support each other on the journey to equality.

Can you share a career milestone or significant challenge that has shaped your journey?

As a young girl, I faced educational instability, attending 15 schools by age 14. At 16, I became a teen mother, lacking qualifications and facing a bleak future on welfare. Despite working in dead-end jobs, a breakthrough came in my early twenties when a supportive leader offered me a customer service role. Under his guidance, I learned, grew, and eventually became a Manager, defying stereotypes in a male-dominated industry. This position opened doors to further opportunities, leading me to my current role at Talent RISE, where I awhi rangatahi (help young people) who are facing barriers to employment. Now, I aim to empower others to overcome obstacles and achieve their potential, leveraging my own journey as inspiration.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

International Women’s Day, themed “Inspiring Inclusion,” is deeply meaningful to me. It celebrates the resilience of women from diverse backgrounds, including those facing significant challenges. Drawing from my own journey as a teen mum, I aim to empower others. It reminds us of the power of inclusivity and supporting one another. Inspiring resilience and progress towards an equitable future.

What are the positive changes you’ve experienced for women in business over the years?

In Aotearoa, women in business have experienced significant positive changes, including increased representation in leadership roles, when I first joined Talent all leadership roles in NZ were held by Māori women. Initiatives promoting mentorship, networking, and access to resources have supported their success. Companies recognise the value of diversity, fostering more inclusive workplace cultures. Progress has been made in closing the gender pay gap and addressing systemic inequalities. While challenges persist, these developments reflect a growing commitment to equality and inclusivity in the business landscape.

In your experience, what are some common challenges young women face in finding and maintaining meaningful employment, and how does Talent RISE address these challenges?

Talent RISE in New Zealand addresses challenges for young women in employment, focusing on work-life balance, especially for mothers with young children facing the gender pay gap. Our programme offers personalised support to help manage work and home commitments, empowering women to succeed in both their careers and personal lives.

If you could give your younger self career advice, what would it be?

Your career journey is limitless. With determination, any profession is within reach. Skills cultivated in early roles strengthen your path to success. The importance of strength in networking amplifies opportunities. Your resilience and empowerment shape your career trajectory. Remember, your power knows no bounds. Forge ahead with unwavering strength. Each step you take celebrates the remarkable power of women.


Feeling inspired to support young women in meaningful employment? Reach out now to learn how you and your team can make a difference.