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Chairperson

Gaylene Hughes

Keeping us focused on the task at hand is Gaylene, our Chair and inaugural Trustee.

Gaylene first became involved with IYM when she accompanied a young woman (now an IYM alumnae) to Silicon Valley in 2019. This experience opened her eyes to the possibilities that the STEMM offered and sparked her passion to support more young women interested in this sector. As Chair, Gaylene brings a financial background, an eye for opportunity, and a vast network of local businesses. When something needs to be done, she knows the right person to ask! As a result we have a wide net of research and tertiary institutions, small businesses and individuals supporting IYM in various ways.

Gaylene’s advice for young people who are choosing a career path is to do something that they love to do and be open to opportunities and seize them firmly. It’s all about meeting people, stretching yourself, being confident and broadening your experiences. In the words of Dame Anita Roddick - “To succeed you must believe in something with such a passion that it becomes a reality”. Gaylene wholeheartedly agrees.

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Trustee

Aleisha Amohia

Aleisha Amohia (Te Āti Haunui-a-Pāpārangi) (she/her) is a passionate young advocate for diversity and equity in all spaces, sparked by her experiences as a young Māori-Asian woman in the technology industry.

Aleisha is the Koha Technical Lead at Catalyst IT, an open source software company, where she started out as an intern software developer in 2014. She is a Victoria University of Wellington graduate with a Bachelor of Science (Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence) and a Bachelor of Commerce (Management and Information Systems).

Aleisha is also actively involved in community organisations, with past or present links to the National Council of Women New Zealand, Wellington Alliance Against Sexual Violence, InternetNZ, Victoria University of Wellington Women in Tech, YWCA Greater Wellington, and more. She's currently the President of the Wellington Branch for the National Council of Women New Zealand, where she facilitates conversations about local women's issues, works closely with Wellington City Councillors and Members of Parliament, and co-organises events to raise awareness about the gender equality movement in Aotearoa and encourage connections between Wellington women.

Born and raised in Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Aleisha is the eldest of four children, and their family has a dog named Cassie. Aleisha is extremely proud of her Māori-Asian whakapapa and is on active journey to explore her identity and heritage. She also loves sport, music, travel, food, and wine.

Allan Brown

Trustee

Allan Brown understands the value that technology and innovation bring to Hutt City.

He was there when the idea for IYM was formed at a Rotary meeting and was one of the visionaries that brought the programme to life.

As an inaugural trustee, Allan brings a wealth of experience and insight into the manufacturing and technology industry.

 

He enjoys seeing the growth in the young people who participate in the IYM programme and hopes to see it continue for many years. 

Allan’s advice to young people is “to take every opportunity that comes your way, explore options and choose a path with long term prospects”.

In the words of Richard Branson - “You don’t learn to talk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.”

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Programme Manager

Olivia Pilalis

Organisation is a way of life for Olivia who gets great satisfaction from creating a plan and implementing it. 

 

Joining us from the banking sector, Olivia has worked in senior roles in financial crime for almost a decade. While her focus has previously been on financial crime and security intelligence, one thing she has remained passionate about is helping people. In recent years her desire to provide encouragement and support to others has led her into training and development.  

 

As our Programme Manager, Olivia’s positive, relaxed demeanour and strong communication skills put people at ease. She is approachable and supportive and loves ending a day feeling fulfilled and accomplished. Above all, she is inspired by the purpose of IYM, to help young women explore careers in the STEMM sector. 

 

Outside of work, Olivia prioritises family time, enjoying outings to the park with her husband and two young children. You’ll also find her walking and running the hills of Wellington and researching the latest restaurants as a self-confessed foodie. 

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Trustee

James Lamb

James Lamb is the head of Business and Economy at Hutt City Council.

 

As a trustee representing Hutt City Council, James focuses on the development of STEMM. 

I help teams collaborate for the greater good, growing the potential in people and places, bolstered by my optimism, curiosity and creativity.

I am...


- a collaboration broker always looking for the 1+1+1=5 scenario


- a problem solver unpicking how it really works to turn complex       ideas into everyday conversation


- a leader by example hosting workshops, fronting pitches


- a human-centred designer challenging the status quo


- a creative visual thinker and storyteller

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Trustee

Zeena Khan

Zeena, Leader. Speaker, Author, joined the IYM team July 2023. From a young age Zeena’s Dad would often say “Learn the rules and play the game better.” Little did he know these words would shape her life.

 

Emigrating from Suva, Fiji to Mangere, South Auckland, in the early 80s, Zeena is of Chinese, Fijian, and Indian descent. Growing up, she often struggled to find her place, but inspiration from her dad, and the acronym DRIVE (Determination, Redirection, Insight, Vibe, Enthusiasm) guided her through. In time, she learnt to push herself, be open to trying new things and back herself in the world of work.

 

Her compass also includes a gem of wisdom gifted from the influential women in her life “Know who you are, where you come from and where you are going.” 

 

Zeena’s superpower is communication. Her ability to bring people together and empower them to change their lives is second to none. She has solid experience in both private and public sectors, in roles ranging from customer service to governance. Her field of expertise includes leadership, change management, learning and development. Professional Development has been key to Zeena’s success, she leads with positivity and purpose combined with a growth mind-set, her unique background and experience speaks to her mission to uplift and guide the next generation of leaders and career professionals to find their flow and move with confidence.

 

As a trustee for Innovate Young Minds, Zeena is looking forward to positively contributing to the mahi (work) and learning from others along the way too. To find balance and zen in everyday life, she loves to visit art galleries, write poetry, and spend time with loved ones.

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Youth Trustee and IYM Alumae 2017

Janis Baker

Janis Baker has a passion for young women finding their potential in the STEMM sectors and in leadership roles. 

 

Janis's first brush with IYM was as a participant on the inaugural programme in 2017. She then applied for and got an internship with Pertronic Industries - one of the many places that IYM visited that year. 

 

In 2019, Janis came back and attended IYM as an Alumnae helper, then joined the team for the 2020 - 2022 Online and Residential programmes to help facilitate the Innovation Challenge and as a support person. 

 

Janis has been serving her community as a Volunteer Qualified Firefighter for 6 ½  years.  She has been on the Regional Women's Advisory Committee for four years and on the National Women's Advisory Committee for one year. Janis has also joined the Taranaki Provincial Fire Brigades Association, where she is Senior Vice President. The TPFBA helps support and organise events for Taranaki Firefighters, and attend Brigade AGMs and Honours. 

 

For work, Janis is a Mechanical Fitter and Maintainer, working for a contracting company called Dynamech. Day to day, Janis works on Power Stations, PetroChemical plants and other cool assignments throughout the North Island. Janis completed her apprenticeship with Manawa Energy (formerly Trustpower Ltd) in 2022, where she learned to operate and maintain Hydro Power Stations. 

 

Janis's key bit of advice - (if you have the capacity because life is busy) - is to say YES to any opportunity, because every opportunity is a chance to learn and develop yourself.

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Communications & Funding Manager

Emily Calvert

The youngest of three girls, Emily's father encouraged all his daughters to take an interest in science. Emily's insatiable curiosity led her to pursue a Bachelor's degree in Physics at Otago University. 

 

Now she has more than a decade of experience working in the energy sector. She loves the complex challenges of working towards a sustainable energy future, balancing the tension between technical solutions which are sustainable, economic and work for the communities they serve.

 

Over the years she has enjoyed traveling and meeting new people as part of her work.

 

Emily is a natural communicator. She loves making the complex simple and is driven to make STEMM subjects more accessible and diverse. She is delighted to be part of an organisation which encourages and inspires young women to follow their curiosity too.

IYM Alumnae Council

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Janis Baker

Janis Baker has a passion for young women finding their potential in the STEMM sectors and in leadership roles. 

 

Janis's first brush with IYM was as a participant on the inaugural programme in 2017. She then applied for and got an internship with Pertronic Industries - one of the many places that IYM visited that year. 

 

In 2019, Janis came back and attended IYM as an Alumnae helper, then joined the team for the 2020 - 2022 Online and Residential programmes to help facilitate the Innovation Challenge and as a support person. 

 

For work, Janis is a Mechanical Fitter and Maintainer, working for a contracting company called Dynamech. Day to day, Janis works on Power Stations, PetroChemical plants and other cool assignments throughout the North Island. Janis completed her apprenticeship with Manawa Energy (formerly Trustpower Ltd) in 2022, where she learned to operate and maintain Hydro Power Stations. 

 

Janis's key bit of advice - (if you have the capacity because life is busy) - is to say YES to any opportunity, because every opportunity is a chance to learn and develop yourself.

Wendy Su

Currently a student at Auckland University, Wendy begins her postgraduate diploma in Science (Psychology) this year (2024). She is interested in exploring the impact of neurology and culture on mental health in her academic career.

 

Wendy's involvement with IYM began in 2018 when she participated in the residential program. The subsequent year, she embarked on the Silicon Valley trip to America as an Alumni. Over the years, Wendy has played a role in facilitating the program, and upon discovering the opportunity to join the Alumni Council, she knew she couldn’t resist.

 

Having immigrated from China in 2008, Wendy has found a home in New Zealand. Raised by parents who endured financial hardship in their childhood, she was instilled with a profound curiosity about the world. Wendy's upbringing has shaped her philosophy, encapsulated in her advice to others: "Be curious, take the opportunity, and embrace it wholeheartedly."

 

In her spare time, Wendy likes to read and attend her many houseplants. 

Sienna Mitchinson

Hi! I’m Sienna, and as you may be able to guess from my Oodie, I’m a student at the University of Otago. I am a 2nd year in 2024, studying a BSc majoring in neuroscience, with a minor in microbiology. 

I attended IYM Residential in 2021 and I genuinely don’t think I would be as passionate about my study and future if I hadn’t. I loved the many different areas of STEM we were introduced to, but the main area that shone for me was human health and biology.

 

The support and experience I gained on the programme gave me so much confidence in the area of STEM in which I belong. 

Anyone can make a difference, and achieve their dreams - you just need to believe in yourself, and be resilient. 

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Sophie Miller

Currently working in the construction industry as a Junior Quantity Surveyor, Sophie enjoys being involved in a constantly evolving workforce based heavily across all STEMM sectors. The construction industry is subject to ever-changing design and adaptability requirements, particularly through current climate and social challenges, hence the requirement for new and diverse solutions. Sophie believes there are not enough women working in the construction industry, whether it be through trades, management or even manufacturing design, and wants to inspire future IYM participants that the construction industry is so much more than wearing a super cute high-vis!

Sophie's involvement in IYM started with the first residential programme in 2017 and she was privileged enough to attend the IYM trip to Silicon Valley in 2019. Since then, Sophie has been active in the IYM community often attending networking events and volunteering her time on both residential and online programmes and in the fundraising space. Through IYM Sophie has made life-long connections and has been encouraged to take every opportunity offered to her as, "you never know what might suit you perfectly!"

Since IYM, Sophie studied a Bachelor of Building Science at Victoria University of Wellington, fostering a passion for sustainability in construction. When not crunching the numbers as a Quantity Surveyor, Sophie enjoys balancing her time out by going to the gym, spending time with friends and family, and a relaxing painting by numbers.

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Nina Brown

Nina is passionate about education, opportunity and empowerment. She wholeheartedly believes in Innovative Young Mind’s mission to encourage young women into the STEMM field, foster lifelong connections and boost their confidence to unlock their full potential. Nina participated in the IYM programme in 2018 and it gave her the perfect amount of self-belief and industry exposure she needed. Nina hopes to be able to give back to the organisation and contribute to their meaningful outcomes in her role as alumnae council member. 

 

Nina is in the finance and economics space, currently working as a consultant to give evidence-based, numbers-oriented answers to various questions. Nina studied her commerce degree in finance and economics at Victoria University, and is currently pursuing her Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation as part of her continued education.

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Freya Bacon-Bootham

Freya is passionate about making STEMM accessible to everyone. She primarily pursues this through experimenting with various communication mediums and finding the best way to get science and research out to the most people.

She completed a Bachelor of Science majoring in Psychology in 2022 and completed a Master of Science in Society with merit in February 2023 from Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington. For work, Freya is an Advisor, research and knowledge management in the Evidence Centre at Oranga Tamariki. 

Her first interaction was with IYM during is inaugural programme in 2017. "I found it a brilliant experience, which just added to an ever growing list of STEMM instrests," she says. Freya is excited to connect back with the programme and be involved in further connections with other alumni.

In her spare time, Freya enjoys writing, constantly listening to music and seeing as many gigs as possible.

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