Paula Kearns 1980- 1983
Paula Kearns attended Trident High School in the 1980’s when the school was half the size of our current roll but the similarities between when she attended and now are vast. When reflecting on some of her fond memories Paula spoke of a weekly elective programme, one we still run, and one our students still thoroughly enjoy. In the elective programme she rode her horse with Pony Club, the same horse that often ran away during the day and her father, who was Trident’s founding principal, had to locate Paula during class to tell her to go find it! Another similarity between Paula’s time at Trident and that of our current students is that she says Trident had really good teachers who were devoted to helping students realise their potential. Infact, it was a teacher that inspired Paula to take the initial career path she did. Ms Matheson, who was Paula’s Accounting teacher, told her ‘You’re really good at this, it comes easy to you and you should think about a career in this field’. While those words did not immediately influence Paula to head into Accounting, they did stick with her and it wasn’t long before she pursued Accounting studies.
After a successful career in Accounting for 25 years, including working with big corporate companies and private practice, Paula had a change of direction. Her degree and experience in accounting provided her with skills that would compliment this new direction into management. Paula has been involved in management as Acting CEO for New Zealand Women’s Football, CEO of the Canoe Racing Association and for the past 6 years has been CEO of Youthtown with a staff of 300. Her role as CEO of Youthtown meant many things to Paula, but above all she strove to make everyone’s day the best if could be, supporting people in their roles in order for them to realise their own success. She says this comes down to understanding teamwork as being integral to success “without a successful team, you struggle to achieve anything”. Her ability to have one vision and apply this strategically across the whole business meant that sometimes she had to make hard decisions, go ahead and implement them, knowing that while it was the best thing for the business it was not always what individual staff would be happy with. Implementing such change, while difficult at times, has required Paula to believe wholeheartedly in the creation of new visions and has realised many career highlights for Paula. She recalls how watching the u117’s New Zealand Women’s Football team win gold at the 2008 Women’s World Cup was a proud moment, knowing that the structure and environment she had created had paid off. Supporting a fellow Whakatane born woman - Lisa Carrington in Canoe Racing also left Paula with a sense of pride. She watched Lisa gain her first world title in Hungary in 2011 and then win gold at the Olympics in 2012. A diverse and successful career journey has enabled Paula to now take some time off and travel the world and we wish her every bit of fun and adventure.
Paula is keen to be involved in leadership mentorship of our young Trident women and we are very happy to take her up on this as she has a wealth of knowledge that our students will benefit from greatly.