Cecilia Robinson triumphs at Women of Influence

LAWRENCE SMITH/STUFF

Women in leadership roles from across New Zealand attended the Women of Influence Awards dinner at SkyCity in Auckland.

The founder of the country's third biggest food retailer - despite not operating any physical shops - has taken out the Supreme Award at the 2017 Women of Influence awards.

My Foodbag's Cecilia Robinson, who moved to New Zealand from Sweden when she was 20, said an important quality for leadership is the ability to inspire belief in others to do good and change the way the world works.

"My Food Bag was founded on the fact that we wanted to change life for all Kiwis throughout this amazing country of ours. We wanted to change the way New Zealand eats for creating stronger and healthier communities," Robinson said.

Women of Influence 2017 supreme award winner, My Food Bag founder, Cecilia Robinson.
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Women of Influence 2017 supreme award winner, My Food Bag founder, Cecilia Robinson.

She was surprised and overwhelmed at the award and, given the high standard of fellow entrants, felt "humbled and excited".

"It is all about my team and our customers. We do what we do to add value to New Zealanders and we set out to solve the problem of "what's for dinner tonight' with convenience and value for money."

Former Prime Minister and ex United Nations development programme administrator Helen Clark responded to news of her lifetime achievement award with "it ain't over yet!"

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark is presented with her Woman of Influence lifetime achievement award by Governor ...
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Former Prime Minister Helen Clark is presented with her Woman of Influence lifetime achievement award by Governor General Dame Patsy Reddy.

"After all these years I actually am a free agent, which probably makes me quite a dangerous woman because I have quite a lot to say about a lot of things," she said.

Also on stage, presenting the top awards, Governor General Dame Patsy Reddy told the 700-plus awards audience that  "influence can be many things but, used as a force for good, it can change the world".

The Women of Influence awards are presented by Westpac and Fairfax Media.

Fairfax chief executive Sinead Boucher said the whole judging panel was full of admiration for what Robinson had achieved with My Food Bag and how she managed to build the business around the way she wanted to live her life.

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"[She's made] a really truly modern flexible workplace for her and her employees."

Robinson created the meal kit delivery service in 2013 with husband James Robinson, chef Nadia Lim and businesswoman Theresa Gattung.

The services now has more than 50,000 customers, 120 employees and projected revenues of more than $135 million a year. 

Last October it secured investment from Waterman Capital, which is being used to help it launch an IPO within the next three years.

Other winners at the awards were:

Arts & Culture - Denise L'Estrange-Corbet

Fashion designer Denise L'Estrange-Corbet is a co-founder of WORLD, one of New Zealand's most iconic creative brands. She is also an ambassador for the IHC Art Awards, Diabetes New Zealand (Auckland) and the Mental Health Foundation.

Board & Management - Anne-Maree O'Connor

As the Head of Responsible Investment for the New Zealand Superannuation Fund since 2006, Anne-Maree O'Connor has helped move responsible investing from a sideline activity for institutional investors to a part of their mainstream investment strategy.

Business Enterprise - Cecilia Robinson (also the Supreme Winner)

Entrepreneur Cecilia Robinson is the brains behind food kit delivery business My Food Bag. 

Community & Not for Profit - Lisa King

Lisa King created Eat My Lunch after discovering thousands of children go to school without lunch every day. For every lunch purchased, Eat My Lunch provides a lunch to a child in need. In two years, Eat My Lunch has given around 450,000 healthy lunches to children in low decile schools.

Diversity - Minnie Baragwanath

At the age of 14, Minnie was diagnosed with Stargardt's, an incurable disease that causes deteriorating central vision. She went on to start Be. Accessible, a social change agency shifting how Kiwis value accessibility. 

Global - Sian Simpson

A three-time Women of Influence finalist, Sian Simpson is a director of community at Kiwi Landing Pad, where she helps take New Zealand technology to the world. 

Innovation & Science - Hinemoa Elder

Hinemoa Elder leads Māori strategy at the Centre of Research Excellence for the Ageing Brain. She was the first to articulate a Māori theory of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and develop two evidence-based resources for Māori with TBI – an area where Māori are over-represented.

Public Policy Ministry for Women - Rebecca Kitteridge

As the Director of Security at the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service, Kitteridge runs an organisation that deals with some of the most sensitive information in New Zealand. Prior to this role she spent six years in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Rural - Professor Nicola Shadbolt

For more than 30 years Professor Nicola Shadbolt has taken a strategic perspective on global agribusiness. She is a professor of farm and agribusiness management at Massey University.

Young Leader - Sharnay Cocup

Sharnay Cocup is the founder of the Taupiri Youth Group Trust, a Taupiri Community Board member, Taupiri School Board trustee and PTA member. 

 - Stuff

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