V: Describe your role at the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry? K: My working brief at the FNZCCI has been to drive membership by encouraging more New Zealand companies who are involved with France and it’s territories to join. The organisation is very active in the community and I’m involved throughout the year with Bastille Day (July), Beaujolais Nouveau (November), social Petanque and networking events. The opportunity to contribute to the community and make a difference was one of the main motivating factors of my involvement.
Kirsty Reynolds Words: Sarah Sparks Photo: Jani Shepherd Photography
Kirsty Reynolds is an Executive Board Member of the French New Zealand Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Export Manager, Pacific Territory at New Zealand Sugar Company Verve: Describe your French connection? Kirsty: As a five year old I experienced the rare opportunity of being totally immersed in French life. My parents wanted me to have a completely authentic experience, after my father, an agricultural economist was posted to the New Zealand embassy in France. A picturesque village called Ville D’Avray, known to be a favourite of the painter Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot became my home for the next five years. V: What path and chain of events led you to combining your passion for France and business? K:Even though I studied languages up to tertiary level and completed a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in Japanese and French, it wasn’t until later in life as an adult after, establishing my export business and having two children, that I decided to combine my passion for France commercially with my business skillset. A chance meeting at Eastridge
shopping centre in Meadowbank with a French mother was the catalyst for a homecoming trip to France with my young family in 2005 and it reignited a desire to speak French. That led me to joining Auckland Accueil, an organisation formed to assist French families settling in New Zealand and forming close enduring friendships that improved my French considerably. V: Where do you work? K: I hold two concurrent roles as Export Manager for the New Zealand Sugar Company and elected executive board member of the French New Zealand Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FNZCCI) for the second year running. In my export role I regularly travel throughout French Polynesia and New Caledonia and have grown market share through a strong rapport with clients due to the fact that I can speak to them in their native tongue. V: What does the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry do? K: The FNZCCI it is an incorporated society which is affiliated with the Union of French International Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UCCIFE). The primary purpose of the FNZCCI is to promote the voluntary association of business people and business organisations between New Zealand, France and the French Pacific Territories. It also promotes and extends opportunities for mutually prosperous, amicable economic, social and commercial relationships between individuals, firms and companies, corporations, institutions and associations between New Zealand, France and the French Pacific Territories.
V: What are you known on the Board for in terms of skillset? K: My path to the Board started with a huge compliment in the form of an invitation to join the board by the former President Laurent Antonczak. Our newly elected President, Nadine Plet is an amazing woman in her own right, who has been awarded the highest honour by the French government, ‘Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur’ for originally setting up the Petit Lascar playgroup for children and the French Primary school unit at Richmond Road Primary school in Ponsonby. I believe that by being commercially astute with export expertise, a former business owner myself and a fluent French speaker all adds value to the Board. V: Describe a big lesson learnt in your career? K: Trust yourself and listen to your inner wisdom, especially when you are faced with challenges. V: What is your favourite saying? K: ‘Ne pas savoir à quelle sauce on sera mangé’ — this expression was used in a takeover situation when salaried employees were uncertain about their future. The literal translation is ‘unsure with which sauce we will be devoured!’ However, the implied meaning is ‘not sure about what the future will bring’. It’s the funniest expression in a business context. The French do love their food! V: Who is your hero? K: I am inspired by ordinary people pursuing their dreams and in doing so becoming extraordinary people. I am moved when I read about those who against all odds (including their own self-doubt) triumph to achieve their goals, whether it is in their communities making a difference, in business, or in the sporting arena. It takes courage, perseverance and determination… and in doing so, we see them blossom to their full potential. The key attributes I value are humility, integrity and passion.