Rachel Cornwall has her finger on the pulse of many sectors, shifting comfortably between engineering and pipfruit to law, in the space of an afternoon. She heads Populous People, an executive search and recruitment agency bespoke for Hawke’s Bay with “a clear focus on growing provincial performance through people”.

It is discreet work based on “long, quiet conversations”, drawing upon knowledge across who is doing what where, “discerning intelligence in the mix of people, their competencies and aspirations”, and the social requirements and commercial needs of the particular company or organisation … making judgments requiring head and heart.

While she is drawn to seeing businesses perform both commercially and ethically (“good companies with good balance sheets and a good culture”), what she loves about her role is that “you get to share in other people’s journeys; you get to help them navigate that journey and the decisions around where to go”. It is incredibly satisfying when you get “the fit” right.

Rachel is motivated by “a good old-fashioned work ethic and determination to do good for people… There’s the satisfaction of seeing both people and companies do well.”

She comes from a long line of hard-working women, and draws inspiration from her whakapapa and Kiwi women who paved the way like Kate Shepperd. Both her Wairarapa grandmothers were successful business women in their own right, one was the first woman to work on the NZ stock exchange, while also being big on social justice, the other an independent farmer, strong and capable.

In Hawke’s Bay, she’s inspired by privately held, commercially-led organisations that “fly a bit under the radar”, yet contribute so much to the region. And “as someone with a science and commerce brain, I’m in awe of some of our local enduring women artists like Kate McKenzie.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.