Described as the “secret weapon” of the business world, intrapreneurs are quickly becoming a top commodity of workplace success. Intrapreneur You Need to Know is a series of conversations that takes us behind the desks of successful young women making big moves in their career and the steps that led them there.
Being considered “the best” at anything can be difficult. But when you’re a woman in a male-dominated industry, it can prove to be even harder. Kristen Lunman demonstrates that she’s not just good at her job as a woman, she’s good at her job, period. When you look into Kristen’s history throughout her career it’s not hard to see why she was nominated for the New Zealand Women of Influence Innovator of the Year awards in 2018, or why she’s exactly where she deserves to be: At The Top.
Q1. You’ve worked for some big private sector companies as well startups in both the Canadian and NZ digital ecosystem, including Core Logic, Wipster, Kiwi Wealth and now Hatch. What commonalities have you found in the people that succeed in these industries and why do you think you’ve personally been able to stand out?
Aside from having a passion for what they do, in my view, people who succeed are the ones who understand their craft. They know their worth and the value they’re bringing to an organisation. They understand their own unique skill sets and how to make the most of them to meet the goals of the business. I think being successful means knowing yourself and being deliberate about developing your skills and honing your strengths. And there’s a real element of backing yourself and having that level of confidence. So, if you’re going for a raise, promotion, or senior role, you need to be able to articulate why you’re worth it and how the organisation needs you to thrive.
Q2. What did you study and did you naturally fall into your first role? How much did networking come into play, or were you often tapped on the shoulder?
I studied International Business and Marketing. Afterwards, I moved to Vancouver and sent out 40 resumes. I didn’t even get one rejection letter! I knew if I just got the interview, I’d get the job. I’m pretty tenacious, so I sent one more resume out, and I landed a role as a Marketing Analyst for a multinational company who owned ski resorts around the world (a snowboarder myself, I couldn’t complain about the perks!). So no, I’ve never used my connections to get a role; however, I’ve always been confident enough to know that if someone gives me 5 minutes, I can sell myself as being the best person for the job.
Thanks to my big network here in Wellington, I’ve been shoulder-tapped quite a bit. Welly is a village, and I feel lucky to have a good reputation in this industry.
Q3. In your roles as COO, Programme Director, Innovation Director and now General Manager, it’s no secret your intelligent leadership qualities have pushed you into where you are today. What advice would you give to someone in their first leadership role on how to best champion culture and intrapreneurial attitudes?
As a leader, I think one of your key roles is protecting the culture within a team. You have to embrace and respect individual differences, but you need to define and protect the values that tie you together as a team. Being an intrapreneurial leader often means that you’re just creating space for multiple viewpoints and perspectives to be heard. It’s an act of diplomacy and a delicate balance. When you lead a team, you set the vision, and it’s on you to motivate your people and then get out of their way so they can get on with their work.
Q4. So, you’re a powerful woman in finance, growing Kiwi Wealth’s digital financial platform, Hatch (YES!) You’re well aware that we’re all about seeing more financially independent women roaming this earth. What do you believe is key to getting more women financially literate and having their money work harder for them?
Women have been socialised to be risk-averse. This means no investing because we’ve been told not to invest our money unless we want to lose it all. And, you know, the patriarchy has been pretty good at keeping women in their place financially. Historically, the share markets have proven to be the best place to grow your money, but that’s not the story we’ve been sold. So, for me, getting women more financially literate is all about empowering them and giving them affordable access to investing.
Another critical action that women can take is making sure they get paid what they’re worth. Also, please make sure you are paying yourself first. Ladies, when you get paid, invest your money – just 5-10%, and watch your wealth grow. I also believe in learning on the go – so if you have time, read the news, keep up to date with the economy or what’s going on with the share markets. There are so many great newsletters and sites now, find your community and learn from one another.
Q5. You’re giving kiwis world-class investing opportunities, with access to shares in US companies like Facebook, Apple, LuLuLemon, Pinterest, Zoom, Netflix, UBER and Slack – but also funds from the popular Vanguard and Blackrock. What’s the average person that chooses to invest in their 20s/30’s, likely to be better off by?
Investing gives your money the potential to grow faster than it could in a savings account. We see many beginner investors start with a low-fee, well-diversified fund like the Vanguard S&P 500 exchange-traded fund. The S&P 500 index is arguably the most well-known index fund, and it has become synonymous with “the share market.” When they find their feet with funds and have auto-invest set up, they consider companies that they back to grow in the future – tailoring a unique portfolio that backs what they believe – be it renewable energy, technology, or even female leaders.
Let’s assume that you have your credit card debt under control and some savings put away for an emergency fund, the share markets are a great place to consider growing your money over a longer period – say five years or more. If you put $100 under your mattress and left it there for five years, it would still probably have the same buying power as $100 in a savings account thanks to low-interest rates and inflation. Now put $100 in the share markets, and five years later, you’d have around $140. Returns aren’t guaranteed, but historically, the share markets have proven to be the best place to grow your money.
Q6. We’ve been loving your Hatch Weekly (for smart women who want to stay in the know about all the big weekly stories from Wall St). Where can our readers go to jump on Hatch’s News email list?
A big part of our job at Hatch is to empower ambitious Kiwis to up their wealth. Two resources have proven to be popular; our Hatch Weekly, and our Getting Started Course. The Hatch weekly brings you the biggest stories from Wall St, but we try to make it relatable!
The Hatch Getting Started Course helps new investors take the first step. Over ten days, we guide you through everything you need to know about getting started with investing – from setting up an account to buying your first shares. No jargon, no boring finance stuff, no pressure and no strings attached.
Q7. After ten months as Co-Founder and General Manager, you oversaw the company’s growth to $175 million in investments, with month-on-month growth averaging 20 percent – that can only be a source of great personal pride. Did you have a “pinch-me” moment when you started to see the ball monumentally rolling?
I’m super proud that we got something off the ground. Building an innovative offering from within a corporation wasn’t an easy feat. We’re more of a forward-looking team because we’re driven to solve more financial problems for ambitious Kiwis on Hatch – we don’t reflect too much on the past. The pursuit of growth is relentless in a startup environment. We’ve only made the tiniest of ripple in this space, and there’s so much opportunity.
Q8. What’s the secret sauce to putting yourself outside of your comfort zone, time and time again? Do you have a ritual before making big moves?
When I’m presented with an opportunity that feels difficult but unique, I always say “why not”. My mum taught me that embracing adventure is about saying yes to the unknown. Life is short, so I say yes. Of course, this mindset isn’t for everyone. I joined a startup when I had a big mortgage and two young kids. I believe in stretching myself, pushing myself to certain limits. I think the hardest roles are the best ones to effect significant change. If you have the opportunity to get something off the ground or join a startup, take it!
Q9. Okay, show us you’re human. What’s the worst TV show that you don’t tell people you secretly watch?
I binge on the news, which is so depressing – but I have this strange need to know what’s going on in the world. I think I have more than 12 news apps on my phone and I’m across most global headlines by 7 am. I also binge watch Netflix like every other human! You name it, and I’ve watched it. Narcos is one of my faves, but I don’t bring that kind of leadership into the office if you know what I mean!
Q10. What was your relationship with money when growing up?
We didn’t talk a lot about money growing up. Being raised by a single mum, I knew money was tight. My clothes were often from op shops, and we had an old car and a modest life compared to the other kids at school. Still, my brothers and I had an adventurous childhood in the Canadian Rockies, and we never felt like we were missing out. I learned how to work hard to get the things that I want, but without the pressure of needing to keep up with the Joneses for validation.
Q11. There’s a lot of taboo around talking about money, and yet opening the conversation around money is such a pivotal player in growing our ability to make great decisions when it comes to money and having the confidence to negotiate a salary increase. What advice would you give to women wanting to become more comfortable with speaking about money?
I do find it concerning that when I interview women they’re less willing to negotiate, uncomfortable with talking about their successes and can suffer from impostor syndrome, no matter what age they are, what wins they’ve experienced, and where they’re at in their careers. I’ve got three tips (and trust me, I’ve learned the hard way!)
- Find a community that you can trust with money questions and concerns. You can squash your fears through honest, open conversation.
- Invest in yourself and commit to learning the basics of financial knowledge. Webinars, newsletters, books and podcasts are at your fingertips. Knowledge is power – it’s not a cliche, it’s the truth.
- Do your homework. Understand what you should be paid when you’re going for that job. Find a mentor to push you along. Know your value, and don’t ever sell yourself short.
Q12. None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
In order to balance a fulfilling career and raising a family, I needed a partner who would be my equal in every way – from ferrying kids around, to housework, to cooking ( Ok, I admit he does all the cooking but I plan great adventures). I’m so proud that our kids are witnessing a modern marriage!
Hatch has been kind enough to give our community a $20NZD top-up on your first $100NZD or more deposited through Hatch. Happy investing ladies!