A Wellington based Fijian lawyer recently named a finalist in the Pacific Woman in Business Award had only been in private practice for about two years.
Normally the criteria to qualify for selection is at least 3-years’ experience but tax lawyer Arti Chand appears to have been an exception to that rule.
It was the work her practice had done with a fundraiser to help with her home country’s recovery following Cyclone Winston earlier this year which tore across the island nation destroying homes and claiming lives that caught the attention of the Pacific Business Trust.
“I didn’t expect to be a finalist, it was a pleasant surprise,” she says.
How does being singled out as being a successful Pacific Woman in Business sit with you?
Arti Chand surprisingly says she doesn’t find it stereotypical at all.
“It’s not about isolating but actually looking at all Pacific businesses in New Zealand and saying let’s celebrate what you are doing because there isn’t enough emphasis put on what Pacific communities are doing. It gets lost particularly in the media sphere as it is easier to talk about Pacific people being in lower paid jobs,” she says.
She says other Pacific people recognised as finalists included a couple from Hawkes Bay who produce their own chocolate.
The winner of the awards held on 28 October was Nalini Baruch who’s business, LOT EIGHT produces extra virgin and cold pressed fragrant olive oils in Martinborough.
Arti Chand’s fundraiser was held at the Boatshed in the Capital and raised $12,000 for Fiji's cyclone recovery.
“The Wellington business community was very supportive by donating items for auction, a raft of really nice things, portrait sittings, air tickets, restaurant meals,” she says.
All of the money went to the OXFAM charity.
A new CEO for the Trust
The awards were held by the Pacific Business Trust which is headed by another lawyer, Kim Tuaine.
She replaced former CEO Robert Neru who died suddenly, collapsing at work at the young age of only 46.
“I met Rob at the fundraiser and he had so many plans and ideas for Pacific business advancement, a real loss,” Arti Chand says.
Ms Tuaine is a New Zealand born corporate lawyer from Matamata who studied and trained in Australia. As a practising lawyer she deals with high end investment and migration and is a solicitor of the Supreme Court of New South Wales and the High Court of Australia.
“Some of the fundamental skills that lawyers can bring to an organisation that is dealing with public funding is that we are familiar with how to be accountable and transparent and how to implement procedures and processes which are aimed at showing high levels of transparency.
A lot of my clients are international people looking to start up business in the Asia Pacific region so I have some excellent contacts. As the Trust is going through some transformation and we are implementing a new strategy, I’ll be drawing on my legal skills such as capital raising and how to do that and looking at how to use technology to make business models more efficient and profitable,” she says.
Ms Tuaine says the previous CEO died at a time when new plans were just being implemented.
“So that’s had an impact. There’s a lot of work to be done,” she says.