Carmen Vicelich freely admits she is "not your standard data geek".
Maybe not, but that hasn't stopped her from founding two companies with data at their heart.
One of those companies, Data Insight, is an analytics business that uses a company's data to provide personalised insights into consumer habits and wider industries. The other, Valocity, tailors this approach specifically for the property and valuation market.
"I'm not your standard data geek," says Vicelich. "There are some people out there that are really changing that, but still people think you must be a guy who will play golf and talk rugby in order to succeed, and that's definitely not the case."
The bubbly 42-year-old is quick to laugh and operates at a mile a minute. She has just finished a meeting when we walk in, and less than a minute after we leave she is off to give a talk at a conference.
She says she is a good multi-tasker, but being highly organised is also key to fitting everything in.
If you can tell a lot about someone from their office, Vicelich's feels more like a home than a workspace, with rugs, plants and artwork in every room - and nothing out of place.
A table tennis table occupies one area of the office and a trio of horse paintings above the front desk hint at Vicelich's other passion.
It has been five years since Vicelich left her role as an account director at property information and analytics company CoreLogic.
Having worked her way up to a senior position over 10 years at the company, working from home and with flexible hours, Vicelich says people thought she was crazy to give it all up to start her own business, although there was never a question in her mind that it was the right thing to do.
"It's funny because I never doubted it - I just knew," she says.
"It's probably an entrepreneurial thing that you just go with your gut. People probably thought I was mad, most people would think I had the dream job but everything in my gut and my soul just knew this was the right thing to do and it's kind of been like that ever since," she says.
"It was tough but I never thought, 'oh this wasn't the right thing to do' or 'actually I'm going to give up' - I never considered that, which is a bit crazy I guess."
Vicelich already had the industry experience working with big data at CoreLogic, so launching cloud-based Data Insight was the clear choice she says, with second business Valocity a natural progression.
Valocity was designed to take advantage of New Zealand's booming property market - offering property information, market insight and valuation services, allowing banks, vendors and buyers to make mortgage decisions in a fast and easy way.
Instead of just telling customers to get a valuation, the user can order information through the platform, enabling a faster, more accurate mortgage decision. The bank's lending criteria can then be integrated.
Between them, the two companies boast a record of having worked with every major bank and insurer in the country.
Valocity's main focus is the lending and insurance market, while Data Insight has helped more than 70 clients locally and overseas, including some of the largest retail, media and utilities businesses.
Vicelich may be the brains and data guru of the business, but she has also hired what she calls the A-team in data analysis and programming to support her.
At first glance, it would be hard to pick that Vicelich lives on a farm. She seems at ease in her dress and heels - hair curled and nails done.
However, at the end of the day she swaps the heels for gumboots and heads home to a lifestyle block in Waimauku, her husband, four kids and a couple of horses. It is her version of living the dream.
Originally from South Africa, Vicelich and her family left during a particularly turbulent time in the country's history, when she was just 13.
"It was definitely very hard leaving everything behind but [my parents] backed themselves and thought, OK we can get a job and we can do anything if we put our mind to it, and that taught me a lot of lessons that I apply in life," Vicelich says.
"If you know where you're going and you're bulldozing through, the world has an amazing way of making way for you."
Vicelich has operated by that attitude ever since, opting to give everything a go. That included doing her final high school year abroad in Argentina and then changing her mind about studying law, opting to do sales and marketing instead.
Being in business for yourself is really hard - you have lots of barriers every day and there's lots of reasons not to do things, especially for myself as a mother of four and the income earner, there could have been lots of reasons not to do it.
SHARE THIS QUOTE:
She says she fell into an IT job at Quotable Value, which then became CoreLogic.
Ten years and four kids later, Vicelich took stock and decided she wanted a change.
Although she still loved her work, she says she could see many other problems that could be solved using the data companies produce every day.
In April 2012, Data Insight was launched, with Valocity following about a year later.
"I guess I never imagined it would grow so quickly and that the opportunity was so big but I never wanted to be a 'could have, should have, would have' kind of person," Vicelich says.
"My advice to people though is to follow your passion. Being in business for yourself is really hard - you have lots of barriers every day and there's lots of reasons not to do things, especially for myself as a mother of four and the income earner, there could have been lots of reasons not to do it.
"It's about being passionate about what you do because then your authenticity will resonate with customers, because you really want to do what you're doing and you're solving real world problems."
Five years on, Data Insight and Valocity have secured customers including SkyCity, Spark, Westpac and New Zealand Couriers, and won numerous direct marketing awards.
And now, having just secured a multimillion-dollar grant from Callaghan Innovation to expand into Australia, Vicelich says this is just the start for the company.
• Age: 42
• Married: To Antony Vicelich - "he's the calm one"
• Family: Four children
• Best advice you've ever received?
"Be brave and back yourself. You can't think someone else is going to do it for you and I love the Henry Ford saying, 'if you think you can, you can, if you think you can't, you can't - either way you're right'. And it's so true, you just have to back yourself and things happen."
• Best career decision?
Setting up Valocity and Data Insight - "I'm having such a ball, I'm doing what I love with amazing people and amazing clients and I'm in data and technology so anything is possible, so there's never been a more exciting time."
• Favourite holiday destination?
"Probably Croatia I think. It blew me away - my husband's family is from there and it's just beautiful and the people are so friendly."
• Favourite way to relax?
"Beachside, poolside with my family. I'm in my happy place."
• What book are you reading?
"The All Blacks book - it's basically looking at how the All Blacks changed around their game so in 2007 they lost to France and what was the mindset and it talks about the mental discipline required for them and not just physical discipline. It's a fascinating book."