Who is NZ's hottest businesswoman?

02:17, Jun 02 2009
Fashion designer Karen Walker
PC Direct founder Sharon Hunter
Entrepreneur and successful businesswoman Josephine Grierson
Glassons managing director Di Humphries
Charlie's CFO Nicky Ellingham

Here at BusinessDay we take business very seriously. But as the recession rolls on and with unemployment tipped to top 120,000 this week, we feel there's room for a little fun as well.

So to that end we've put together a couple of polls this week, along more frivolous lines than normal, designed to provide a breather from the continuous flow of recession dominated news.

With the help of business journalists across Fairfax Media, we've complied candidates for the titles of New Zealand's most attractive businesswoman and most handsome businessman.

Today we're running a poll seeking your votes on the country's hottest businesswoman. We'll follow up tomorrow with the search for the hunkiest businessman.

Aside from your vote, we're also interested in your suggestions of who you think should have made our top five. Because there are bound to be worthy contenders who didn't make our lists. So feel free to post your comments below.

Before you vote in our poll seeking our best looking businesswomen, here are some brief biographies on the five candidates.

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Sharon Hunter

After co-founding PC Direct at the tender age of 22, Hunter booked a multi-million dollar windfall a decade later when the business was sold. Married to former Hirepool managing director Tenby Powell, Hunter remains active in the business world through the couple's investment firm Hunter Powell Investments.

Her profile has, however, declined somewhat as she devotes time to her children.

Nonetheless she co-hosts TVNZ's Business is Booming, recently helped judge the Veuve Clicquot Award for female business achievement and was photographed with Prime Minister John Key at a charity event in February.

 Nicky Ellingham

The chief financial officer, or "Colonel Bean", of Juice maker Charlie's Group.

According to the company's website her perfect date would be: "A great night out on the town that doesn't leave me cringing the next day."

Presumably it wouldn't be with Charlie's director Marc Ellis then.

Prior to joining Charlie's Ellingham did the "hard yards" with the likes of Ernst & Young and Merrill Lynch. She would, however, have been left red faced after problems with Charlie's new IT system erroneously inflated the group's half-year earnings.

 Di Humphries

Like John Key this former part time model and beauty contestant grew up in a state house in Christchurch. Last week women's wear retailer Glassons announced that Humphries was returning as managing director less than two years after vacating the role.

To show her diversity she also played six years on the wing for the Canterbury women's rugby team. In 2006 Humphries told The Press her coach, Laurie O'Reilly, was one of her mentors giving her confidence during a "shy and gawky" stage.

 Josephine Grierson

Although recently upstaged by her daughter's appearance in NZ's Next Top Model, Josephine retains her own fan base too. Described as "Jerry Hall's double" by Unlimited magazine in 2005, Grierson has a feisty reputation after taking on - in court - both Eric Watson over Bendon and Westfield over her discount shopping outlet on Auckland's North Shore.

Perhaps this isn't surprising though given she's the grand daughter of Max Grierson, the founder of law firm Simpson Grierson, and served on the Commerce Commission for two years.

 Karen Walker

No poll of this nature would be complete without a representative from the country's burgeoning fashion industry. Walker recently made headlines for designing some outfits for Barbie to mark the doll's 50th  anniversary.

"Barbie has always been a fashion leader," said Walker, whose garments are stocked in New York, London and Tokyo.

Barbie is the latest in a long line of famous women to be dressed by Walker. The list includes Madonna, Kate Hudson, Claire Danes, Bjork, Claudia Schiffer and Cate Blanchett.

 Tomorrow: The search for New Zealand's best looking businessman.

BusinessDay