Sina Wendt-Moore

Chief executive of Leadership New Zealand

Sina Wendt-Moore is drawing on a successful career leading teams to empower a new generation of ethical and authentic leaders.

Currently Leadership New Zealand chief executive, Sina was the founding chief executive of the Pacific Media Network where she was responsible for setting up and running the first national Pan-Pacific Radio broadcasting network services – NiuFM, Pacific Radio News and Radio 531pi. She also has a number of board roles including YWCA Aotearoa New Zealand co-president and PACIFICA Auckland co-vice president.

Sina says a positive attitude was the key to taking on leadership challenges in the early stages of her career.

“Other people probably saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself when I was younger. I was naturally curious and open so I’d say okay, if they think I can do it, maybe I can and I kind of said yes to everything.”

She turned unexpected hurdles into opportunities to develop. Growing up in Samoa, she won a scholarship to finish school in Nelson and study law at Canterbury University.

“It was quite a privilege to have that scholarship but because I got distracted with the social life of university and didn’t do well in my study, I lost my scholarship, but it was a really big determinant in the way I approached the rest of my life.

“I came from a very sheltered environment in Samoa, really just school. home and church, no parties. Suddenly having freedom and no one checking on me I bombed.

“So I had to go flatting, get a job and become much more independent. I grew up heaps. In the end it was the best thing.”

After completing a Bachelor of Arts in political science and sociology, Sina was considering a role as a policy advisor when a completely different opportunity came up.

“I had a holiday job working in admin at Yellow Pages advertising and one of the sales reps left and the manager said ‘what do you reckon?’ I thought I’ve got a really cool boss, the starting salary is worth much more, and I get a commission and a car, I’ll give that a go.”

That was the beginning of a seven-year career at Telecom Directories, becoming a sales manager within a year and working in five different roles within the business.

“I had a mentor who was very progressive and there was a whole new way of leading teams developing. He knew we could revolutionise our business and wanted to try it out.

“They were taking sales, customer services, and operational teams who were all working independently and clustering them around the clients for the first time. At the time it was very experimental. We had a number of sales managers who were very ambitious and motivated by money and when we moved to a team bonus system where they had to empower their teams a lot of them left, and I realised empowering people was a real strength for me.”

After leaving Niu FM, Sina reflected on her leadership skills and decided to focus on growing her scale of influence.

“Now I say I want to mentor and grow a new generation of ethical and authentic leaders who will make a difference to the social, cultural and economic wellbeing of their lives, their communities, Aotearoa and the world.

“I would never have verbalised that seven years ago. But I thought about what I want people to say about my contribution at my 90th birthday and I started to see myself as other people see me and now I own that.”