InTouch : Managers abroad

Linda Jenkinson is based in the United States and runs number of diverse companies across many countries.

What prompted you to seek work out of New Zealand?
I left New Zealand to pursue an MBA at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. I was typical Kiwi looking to my OE and planned to spend six years abroad – two years pre MBA, MBA, and two years post MBA. I was interested in getting an internationally recognised degree, some international work experience and seeing the world.

What is your current role?
I am currently working with portfolio of companies. I am major shareholder in, and chairman of, LesConcierges (the largest private corporate concierge company), founder of Porthos (the largest Napa wine concierge internet company), founder and managing director of WOW Investments (an innovative social venture fund) and president of Sierra Services (a CEO-to-CEO consulting firm).

How does it fit into your career path?
My passion is to create innovative new concepts, to develop the business, fund the business and then put world-class management team in place to grow the business. I have started and helped grow Despatch Management Services, LesConcierges and Porthos into multimillion-dollar businesses. Now I am focusing on new start-up – Wow Investments – while LesConcierges and Porthos are run by great teams and I play strategic and fund-raising role. My current career path is to continue to start companies and set them up for success.

What are its main challenges?
Managing multiple priorities and ensuring that I am always having great impact – balancing working in the United States, Europe and Africa, with my young family being based in San Francisco.

What learnings you will take from it?
I have designed my work schedule to fit with my life. I recently transitioned into these roles as result of really evaluating how I wanted to live my life and where I felt I could add the most value. I feel this allows me to have it all – global career, lots of challenge working on cutting-edge issues, making difference in the world, getting rewarded for my efforts while balancing that with spending quality time with my children, my family and my friends.

How do you view New Zealand both as country and economic/business entity from where you stand now?
I see New Zealand as great place to come home to, great place to ground my young children and great place to stay connected with some great entrepreneurs and my fellow World Class New Zealanders.

What sort of ongoing contribution can you/would you like to make to New Zealand’s economic/social welfare?
I continue to play role mentoring Kiwi entrepreneurs in growing their businesses in the United States, as well as providing role model for successful New Zealand businesswomen abroad. I remain passionate Kiwi.

What would encourage you to return?
I live global life – and always see New Zealand as part of that – in differing amounts of time at different times of my life.

What is the most useful piece of advice you could give young executives who are contemplating career stretch offshore?
Realise that the biggest challenge is not what you know, and not what you know you don’t know – but what you don’t know you don’t know. I hear the same thing from the New Zealand entrepreneurs and the African entrepreneurs I work with; they have been saying that for the past two years and now I understand what they mean.

Linda Jenkinson is member of KEA, New Zealand’s global talent community.
www.keanewzealand.com

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