Radical self-love, body hierarchy and intersectionality by Sonya Renee Taylor

When I first found out about Sonya, after numerous people asked for her to feature on Storyo, I started following her Instagram account. I was so grateful to have such a brilliant outspoken confronting woman in my feed who made me question my thoughts and kept reminding to love myself. Sonya is a founder of The Body is Not An Apology platform that promotes radical self-love and body empowerment. She is a poet, author, speaker, and has had many awards behind her name. Recently, she re-located from the US to New Zealand as part of the Edmund Hilary Fellowship and currently resides on Waiheke Island.

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Steven Male
Making a giant leap towards high impact investments by Rachel Yang

Rachel is an Investment Manager at Giant Leap, a venture capital fund backing founders using business to drive positive social and environmental change across three themes: health and wellbeing, sustainable living and empowering people. She is also on the Board of the Catalyst Fund, Impact Investment Group’s charitable foundation which aims to make catalytic investments to demonstrate the diverse landscape of impact investment opportunities and unlock more capital for assets and businesses that are better for the world.

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Steven Male
On astronomy, takings risks and being human by Carolle Varughese

I met Carolle a few years ago when a mutual friend invited her to one of the painting classes I taught. Carolle was a Science, Physics, and Innovation Stream teacher at Howick back then and she spoke so passionately about her students and the education system in general. I later found out that she studied Astronomy and worked at Mt. John Canterbury University Observatory (one of the coolest places to visit if you are in the South Island by the way 🌌). Carolle currently works as a Schools STEM Engagement Leader at Massey University and it is my biggest pleasure to have her share her journey on Storyo! 

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Elina Ashimbayeva
Social work, Turkish coffee and dreaming of Clark Kent by Maria Polishchuk

Maria is my dear friend of many years, she is not a company founder or a public figure, but she has probably affected more lives than any of us through social work. She has done so much wonderful work across our entire population: from foster children, to elderly at the hospital, to students who need support at the university. Maria is incredibly kind, caring and patient. I am so honoured to have her on Storyo!

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Elina Ashimbayeva
On security, racism and killing your ego and by Serena Chen

I played a game of Werewolf with a big bunch of awesome people a year ago, Serena Chen was one of them. Since then Serena’s name kept popping up everywhere for me. I applied to speak at a User Experience conference - she spoke there the year before. I was talking to a friend about their company - Serena gave them advice. After she kindly agreed to do an interview with me, I spent hours listening to her podcast and reading her blog. I have barely spoken to Serena in real life but totally fell in love with her writing. So here we are, with Serena Chen, a product designer at BNZ, security and privacy enthusiast, writer, speaker. 

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Elina Ashimbayeva
On brand strategy and imposter syndrome by Penny Soo

Penny and I go to the same circus school and even though we never really talked in real life, I got really fascinated with what she does once we had each other on Facebook. Penny Soo is a Brand Strategist. She helps businesses and people build and grow their brands online. You can feel her passion and dedication through every post, blog, and video she makes. The industry she operates in is a bit mysterious for me so I am very pleased to have Penny on Kia Ora and find out more about her journey! 

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Elina Ashimbayeva
On culture, young people and activism by Laura O'Connell Rapira

Laura O'Connell Rapira is the embodiment of activism and social change in Aotearoa. She is a proud member of the rainbow community, passionate about unleashing the power of the crowd through digital and community organising, collaboration, storytelling and campaigning. She is currently a Director of an independent community campaigning organisation - ActionStation which was launched 2014, and now has a community of over 150,000 New Zealanders. I met Laura at a conference where she led a fascinating discussion about neo-nazism. I am so honoured having Laura share her story on Storyo!

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Elina Ashimbayeva
Being a creative, anti-hustle, burnout & the best cat in the world by Puno Puno

Over a year ago now I was looking through different sites for some inspiration on how we should shape Kia Ora. I ended up trawling through Girlboss and stumbled upon their small-bizz starter kit videos. Puno was one of the teachers! After a year of following her vlogs on YouTube, I decided to reach out.

Puno is one of those people who leave a mark with her infectious personality. A proud slashie, she openly talks about her corporate burnout, successes, and failures while growing her multiple companies, her cat Muad'Dib and work-life balance. 

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Steven Male
On being a CTO, everyday sexism and kicking ass (literally) by Vivian Chandra

Vivian Chandra is apparently a superhuman. I knew that Vivian works with the Pam Fergusson Charitable Trust (better known as OMGTech!), a wonderful organisation that helps to democratise technology in Aotearoa – with a particular focus on tamariki. But during my interview research, I have also found out that Vivian has recently been a consultant CTO helping non-profits and non-tech startups, is currently an Ally Skills NZ workshop facilitator, a self-defense teacher, an Access Granted interviewer and a founding member of Aotearoa Tech Union. Oh, and she recently did a Masters degree in Sociology. Vivian has done numerous talks and interviews before and I am really looking forward to uncovering some of the backstage stories of hers on Kia Ora! 

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Elina Ashimbayeva
Paralympic dreams, reframing goals and finding joy in the journey by Charlotte Hoonhout

I saw Charlotte’s post on LinkedIn about universal design, a topic that I have recently been pondering. Universal design is a concept that we should create products and services that work well for all, no matter your ability, gender, race, background. I wasn’t sure how Charlotte and I got connected in the first place, but I snooped around, and found what a cool person she is! It is inspiring to see young people be passionate about impactful work and executing on it too. Charlotte is an equestrian para-athlete and an alumna of the University of Auckland. She has created several fantastic innovative initiatives, and it is my pleasure to have her on Kia Ora! 

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Elina Ashimbayeva
Creative pursuits, inclusion & sense of belonging by Ruby Walsh

Ruby and I work together at Melodics. She is an incredible musician 🎶 (plays guitar, pads, keyboard, drums) and only when doing research for this interview I found out that she also has the most wonderful voice. I admire how true and honest to herself she is, always advocating for fairness, inclusivity, equality. I am so grateful to have met her and now to be sharing her story on Kia Ora! 

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Elina Ashimbayeva
Context, Collaboration, and Cake by Tanya Johnson

Kia Ora’s main mission is to share stories that might inspire you to explore life from a different angle, stories of people around us who work hard on making this world a better place. We want to share the vulnerable side of people. Tanya is one of these amazing humans. We know her as a kick-ass product manager, creator of Women In Tech community in NZ (now knows as NZ Tech WomeNB) and a really impressive baker. 

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Elina Ashimbayeva
On astrophysics and figuring out who you are by JJ Eldridge

Our wonderful Liza Bolton has recommended JJ Eldridge to be interviewed on Kia Ora. When I started doing my research about them, it absolutely fascinated me how active and honest and vulnerable JJ is. JJ has completed their PhD at the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge, undertook postdoctoral research in Paris and Belfast and has been lecturing Astrophysics at the University of Auckland since 2011. They are super active in diversity space and recently have been nominated for NZ LGBTI Hero of the Year award. It is such a pleasure to have JJ on Kia Ora!

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Elina Ashimbayeva
Tech sector for minorities and adorable pug photos by Alix Klingenberg

It is not news that we have a severe shortage of women and non-binary in engineering. One of the obvious reasons why younglings don’t get into this field as enthusiastically is the lack of wahine role models. Alix is one of those wonderful few. She is currently a software developer at Auror, an Auckland-based crime-fighting startup. She runs workshops with Ally Skills NZ and is helping out with the .NET Auckland meetup. Recently, along with Lauren Peate, Alix has been working on Multitudes, a software that measures the team’s dynamics to provide specific tips about behavioural shifts for enabling more effective and inclusive culture. It is with pleasure that I share Alix’s amazing and very honest interview on Kia Ora! 

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Elina Ashimbayeva
On building strong tech communities by Pauli Sosa

I know Pauli as a lovely co-founder of MUV talks, a not-for-profit series of events that present 7 speakers talking about a particular theme. Their events are wonderfully organised and create an atmosphere of support. Most of the speakers are non-males and the topics range from milestone celebration to start-ups to change makers. Their mission resonates closely with ours on Kia Ora; hence, I am so excited to talk about Pauli’s journey on here! 

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Elina Ashimbayeva
Art, social media & raising your voice by Eli Torkington

I met Eli Torkington at a conference in 2017 when they were only 15 years old. Two years on, I am a massive fan of theirs on social media to the point that I showed so many of their Insta stories to my partner, that he started following their makeup page too #fans. Eli is young, outspoken and creative. They speak up about mental health, use of social media, body positivity, gender perception, and all that goodness! I am absolutely stoked to share their story on Kia Ora! 

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Elina Ashimbayeva
Empowering with love by Kaity Gould

I’ve met Kaity a couple of months ago at a workshop on social movements. We only exchanged a couple of stories but she struck me as an incredibly compassionate human. Kaity told me how she recently quit her nursing job and is looking to go full time with Empower The Powerful, programme that provides support and care for people who have experienced sexual trauma. I feel very honoured to share Kaity’s story and the light that she brings into this world. 

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Elina Ashimbayeva
Disrupting the tech stereotype by Ruth James

If you work in tech, you know Ruth James. Ruth is a Tech Outreach and Engage Coordinator at Xero with a previous title of Happiness Engineer (those tech titles, right? 😋) I know her as kind and generous and caring and always there to help. She is across most tech events and initiatives around diversity, education and inclusion and it is my pleasure to have her on Kia Ora!

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Elina Ashimbayeva
Storytelling with a mission by Brough Johnson

You know sometimes you meet people who radiate kindness and care and you just want to listen to them? That’s Brough.  A few years ago Brough founded Narrative Muse, an online platform that matches book and movie lovers with perfect-for-them recommendations of stories by and about women and non-binary folk. Her mission resonates so closely with ours so it is a pleasure of mine to be sharing Brough’s story on Kia Ora!

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Elina Ashimbayeva
How can WE uplift communities by Wyndi Tagi

I first heard Wyndi’s story at the WE Summit 2019. What excited me so much about the event her team hosted was that it looked deeper than just the dollar signs of business. The second the Managing Director of Xero stepped on stage and started talking about mental health and values, I knew I was in the right place.

Then after hearing Wyndi share her own story, I knew I was sitting in the room with a true New Zealand leader. 

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Steven Male