A year of innovation for Life Education Trust
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Libby O’Sullivan’s passion for health and fitness doesn’t stop at the gym – she helps her clients take the same approach to their businesses.
Time to read: 2 mins
As the new managing director of Baker Tilly Staples Rodway Hawkes Bay, Libby’s fondness for workouts, bush walks around Lake Taupo and the outdoors mirrors the energy she brings to supporting her team and navigating clients through the confidence course of operating a business.
"I’ve always been a hard worker – it was something my parents instilled in me from a very young age, and I also love the mechanics of running a business, down to working out the best tax solutions,” she says.
She started her career working for one of the Big Four accounting firms in Wellington, before a secondment in the UK, where she worked in an audit role and on project work in a commercial environment to further stretch her knowledge and experience.
But people have often been at the core of Libby’s decisions. She grew up in the farming community of Elsthorpe, and as one of nine siblings, her partner was keen to bring up their own children alongside their relatives, spurring their return to New Zealand.
On arriving back in Hawkes Bay, Libby's next role immediately stood out.
“I could see that the people at Baker Tilly Staples Rodway were great and it was somewhere I could be happy for a long time. The firm places very strong value on its people and that really resonates with me,” she says.
Libby’s role has extended her family even further. “In business advisory, you become quite close to your clients. When they have news – either good or bad – you’re one of the first people they call. I love having that sort of close relationship with my clients.”
That relationship focus may be why Libby was made a director of the firm at the tender age of 31 – and why she’s now managing director.
She also spent many years serving as a trustee of YouthQuest, an organisation that supported at-risk youth with life skills programmes.
Despite all the challenges of the past two years, she’s proud of how local businesses have coped.
“The fruit industry in Hawkes Bay is a great example. They’ve had to manage with a much smaller workforce, but they’re continuing to stand up and advocate for themselves.”
However, after her two decades coaching businesses, there’s one exercise she’s keen for more to tackle.
“If there’s one thing I want all my clients to know, it’s the importance of having a business plan. So many businesses roll along without a plan or accountability, so I sit down with them and make sure they have all the right pieces in place to make them much more resilient.
“While there are many new technologies available to manage the financial basics, that kind of advice is what really adds value to our clients’ businesses. As managing director, my focus will be on helping my team deliver that.”