Flower girl who bloomed

KidsCan boss: Don't be afraid to work with people who know more than you do.

Julie Chapman co-founded the KidsCan Charitable Trust.
Julie Chapman co-founded the KidsCan Charitable Trust.

What is your first memory of being a leader?

When I was 6, I cut all of my mother's agapanthus flowers and led a group of friends selling them door-to-door to our neighbours. Needless to say my mother was not very happy about it but still tells the story today. So I think she was secretly impressed.

As a leader, what's the secret to getting people to support and share your vision?

A lot of people have great vision but you'll never see your vision become a reality unless you communicate it well to others. It's important to always be open to learning from others and to develop a team of leaders around you who can help realise the vision.

How would your colleagues describe you?

Passionate, caring, tenacious, visionary, fun-loving and supportive. Apparently a little bit quirky too.

What was the best piece of career advice you ever received?

Don't be afraid to surround yourself with people who know more than you do and never count the money until it's in the bank.

What has been a highlight of your leadership journey?

When we brought back Telethon after 15 years. We raised $2 million for Kiwi kids in poverty, which enabled us to almost double the amount of support we were providing to low decile schools in a very short timeframe.

What was a low moment and how did you deal with it?

Negative media after our 2009 Telethon event. That was really tough for myself and the team. We knew reports that only 18 cents in every dollar raised was going to benefit children were completely wrong, but we had to wait until our auditors finished so we could publicly show that 80 cents in every dollar raised was the correct number.

What annoys you?

People who make sweeping judgments that the families of children in poverty are all at the pub drinking, gambling and buying cigarettes. Of course, there will always be some parents who do not do the right thing for their children. But the majority are good people, who want the best for their kids and are embarrassed when they can't provide it.

What could Kiwi businesses be doing better?

I believe Kiwi businesses could be more active in partnering in a meaningful way with charitable organisations. I would also like to see more businesses forming joint venture partnerships with not-for-profits to encourage and build social enterprise, which would benefit all involved.


Who is a New Zealand leader that you think has the Blake Factor and why?

I think a recently-named Blake Leader Dr Lance O Sullivan has the Blake Factor. Lance works tirelessly in his community to improve the health of children who cannot always get the medical treatment they need.

What is the best part about being a Blake Leader?

One of the great things about being a Blake Leader is that it opens up a network to other like-minded people, who are all passionate about their contribution.

Julie Chapman (nee Helson)

Julie is chief executive and co-founder of the KidsCan Charitable Trust. KidsCan is a national charity that was set up to help meet the basic physical and nutritional needs of disadvantaged children, by providing raincoats, shoes and food through low-decile schools. Julie is responsible for the leadership, direction and co-ordination of all of the trust's activities, as well as programme development, key partnerships, government relationships, public relations and the overall day-to-day management of the trust. In 2008, Julie received a Sir Peter Blake Leadership Award for her outstanding contribution and was a 2010 finalist for Kiwibank New Zealander of the year.

- NZ Herald

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