Managing Partner Chen Palmer,
Chair of Superdiversity Institute,
Director on the BNZ Board
As a child, Mai Chen moved from Taiwan to New Zealand with her family. She didn’t know a single person and didn’t speak a word of English. She quickly realized that she was different from everyone else – a fact that, with time, would prove to be an advantage. “When I was young, I wasn’t happy. I wanted to be tall, white, blonde and blue-eyed. But then I realized that my being different is actually an advantage: I learned to cope with this fact, and was happy to stand out. Because if you want to be a leader, you have to make unpopular decisions. You have to learn to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations”, says Chen.
Together with New Zealand’s former Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer, Chen founded Chen Palmer, one of New Zealand’s first boutique law firms. They specialised in legislation and public policy. “I like my job as a lawyer because I’m actually something of a paid fighter. And when I fight, I fight to the end; only one of us can win – and I’m very successful at this,” says Chen. She is also the founder and chairwoman of NZ Asian Leaders, an organization which brings together top Asian CEOs and emerging leaders with entrepreneurs from New Zealand, Adjunct Professor at the University of Auckland School of Law, Director on the BNZ Board and also chairs the BNZ People, Remuneration and Communications Committee and sits on the Audit Committee. She is also chairperson of the organization Super Diverse Women, which aims to identify, develop and inspire diverse female leaders across Australasia. Mai is the best selling author of Diverse Thinking Capability Audit of New Zealand Board Rooms and Public Law Toolbox. She has been a top ten finalist in New Zealander of the Year twice and was in the Top 50 Diversity Figures in Public Life in the Global Diversity List 2016 affiliated with the Global Diversity Awards, which produces the annual European Diversity Awards, and supported by The Economist.
LinkedIn: Mai Chen