GirlBoss leads by example
Pacific Business Trust Business and Entrepreneurship Award
NZ European/Samoan, 20, from Auckland
As the name of her organisation GirlBoss suggests, 20-year-old Alexia Hilbertidou (pictured at the 2019 Prime Minister's Pacific Youth Awards) is leading by example and paving the way for her peers.
Alexia is the recipient of the Pacific Business Trust Business and Entrepreneurship Award and a $10,000 business grant at the 2019 Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Awards, which recognises her exceptionalentrepreneurial qualities.
These qualities has seen the Auckland resident of Samoan and New Zealand descent create and evolve social enterprise GirlBoss into a 12,000 strong community of young women passionate about male dominated fields.
Its mission is to inspire, empower and equip young women to develop their entrepreneurship, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and leadership skills in order to become the change-makers of the future.
In such a short time, Alexia has accomplished so much.
When she was 16, she was the only girl in her Digital Technology class; at 17 she was the only girl in her Advanced Physics class and now she is leading GirlBoss, which is encouraging young women to enter STEM areas across New Zealand as well as Australia and the Cook Islands.
Alexia is also the youngest New Zealander to speak at the United Nations; has flown with NASA; is a Facebook Leadership Fellow undergoing intensive leadership training at their Global Offices; an Eisenhower Youth Fellow; Deloitte Leadership Fellow; an Ambassador for the Royal New Zealand Air Force; and she has studied Leadership for Change at The University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.
The high-achiever was also part of the recent Pacific Mission, and she dreams of bringing GirlBoss to the Pacific Islands, she says.
“From GirlBoss New Zealand's first inception I always dreamed of bringing GirlBoss to the Pacific Islands and late last year, I went to the Cook Islands for two weeks and worked with 110 young women from four different high schools,” Alexia shares.
“The young women went through either the STEM or Leadership Programme and I am overjoyed to say that 109 of the 110 rated the workshop five stars.”
These workshops were free to schools thanks to sponsorship from the New Zealand High Commission to the Cook Islands.
“Now hundreds of Pacific young women go through the GirlBoss workshops and conferences held in New Zealand and leave feeling inspired to be the Pacific leaders in their community.”
One of the keys to success is in seeing role models, having networks and getting the right advice, Alexia adds.
“While this is accessible for people who are privileged enough to grow up in these environments I am determined to create this access for everyone.
“STEM and entrepreneurship have the power to break down social and economic barriers and workshops, conferences and mentoring means that all women, regardless of economic status or place of birth have a chance to engage.”
The prestige of winning the Business and Entrepreneurship Award will be helpful in creating further connections within the Pacific community so Alexia can take her workshops to other Pacific nations, she adds.
“It will show Pacific girls in my workshops that someone who looks like them can achieve in the world of business.”
Winning this award is the highlight of her leadership journey so far, Alexia says.
Her commitment to living a life of service to the community is the result of the values instilled in her by her late Samoan grandmother who passed away four years ago.
“She was a strong Pacific woman who always believed in the potential within me to create positive change and this strong matriarchal energy which has come through my Samoan side is what drives me every day.
“We look not at what others can do for us but what we can do for ourselves, our whanau and the wider community - our purpose is to serve and use the gifts bestowed on us to make the world a better place.”