Women in Business – New Zealand’s Media Superstar, Hilary Barry

Women in Business is kindly sponsored By Eclipse Recruitment

8th March 2023

“It’s so lovely to see everyone here today. It’s been a long time coming – and how fitting that we’re here on International Women’s Day when we acknowledge and celebrate ourselves and the special women in our lives.” Lisa Hill, managing director of Eclipse Recruitment, warmly welcomed more than 170 guests to Business North Harbour’s first Women in Business event of 2023.

Hilary Barry was equally enthusiastic about the significance of 8 March. “When I woke up, I thought there’s no better way to start today than to be here with you!”

Hilary’s name means cheerful, and she describes herself as a glass-half-full type who enjoys cheering people up. Therefore, in her typically humorous, self-deprecating, and open style, Hilary shared her “Life Lessons Lite”. Although unique to her and her career, these stories and insights resonated with everyone in the room, regardless of industry or job title.

She skilfully guided her audience from her first job at Today FM in Carteron (where her boss was one Paul Henry, and pausing to reminisce fondly about recently departed trailblazer Georgina Beyer) through to her current role on Seven Sharp.

She has covered numerous stories and interviews – funny ones, tragic ones, logistically challenging ones, surprisingly disappointing ones – with valuable learnings garnered along the way. It is perhaps the interviews with “normal people doing extraordinary things” that have lingered with Hilary the longest, and she spoke with sincerity about everyday Kiwis’ resilience, ingenuity, and stoicism. There’ve also been times of frustration, especially when encountering potential double standards linked to sexism and ageism.

Over the years, and with the immediacy of digital comms and social media, Hilary has received more than her share of “feedback” and has learned how to deal with criticism. Being a pragmatist, she wisely observed, “There are some fights you can’t win alone in that moment.” She also remarked that nobody has the right to ruin your day and to be very choosy about the people you empower to criticise you. “The rest is just white noise.”

And how could there not be mention of Lockdown Formal Fridays? Actually, these were originally the idea of US TV host Jimmy Kimmel and his wife, Mollie McNearny. It was a proud moment when Jimmy noticed New Zealand’s sterling efforts in this regard and gave Hilary and the rest of the country a shout-out! (You can watch the clip on Hilary’s Facebook feed.)

In summing up, Hilary reminded guests of Maya Angelou’s words: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

And, on International Women’s Day, she closed by reminding us, “Women supporting women – that’s a super-power!”

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Bernadette Robert

Bernadette Robert