Brooke Roberts isn’t sure she deserves all the attention. The Woodford House Old Girl, who boarded at the school from Year 10 forwards, received the Tempus Award for outstanding achievement on Saturday afternoon at a special ceremony held on-site.
Brooke is one of six founders of Sharesies, a household name that makes the stock market more accessible to New Zealanders through its easy-to-understand platform, app, and regular educational newsletters, webinars and podcasts.
And although delighted to have been chosen by the Woodford House Old Girls as the recipient of the award, Brooke admits she’s a little uncomfortable with the limelight. “I feel a bit whakamā (bashful) to have been selected, because Sharesies isn’t just about me,” she begins. “There’s an amazing team behind it, and I’m just one of that team.”
But Mary Sherratt, President of the Old Girls’ Association, insists that Brooke, now a mother of two young children, exemplifies the qualities the association looks for each year. “We chose Brooke not only because of her entrepreneurship and well-documented business acumen but because of her generosity of spirit. Brooke has always looked out for opportunities to give back – to her team, to her business community, and to the girls of Woodford House.
“It’s an honour to have welcomed Brooke and her family back to Woodford House to receive the 2022 Tempus Award.”
Indeed, Brooke says she credits the school environment as having set her on her path to success. “My interest in entrepreneurship was first recognised at Woodford House when I was awarded the Kate Hutchinson Award for Entrepreneurial Spirit,” she says. “With the support of the school, I think I was really able to craft and hone my business skills.”
Brooke went on to attend Victoria and then Massey University, coming out with a BCom and Masters in Finance. Collaborating with five friends and associates, Sharesies was launched in 2017. Since then, it’s won a slew of accolades including awards for employee experience and work-life balance. The business, which has over half a million investors spread across New Zealand and Australia and is valued at half a billion dollars, was recently B Corp accredited and has just joined the Institute of Directors NZ’s Future Leaders programme, which gives aspiring leaders a chance to participate on boards.
“What I really admire in others is when they’ve created opportunities to lift others up. That’s how I, too, want to contribute,” explains Brooke.
Mrs Julie Peterson, Woodford House Principal, says Brooke is already doing that for the students of Woodford House by participating in the school’s Shine Programme, where she serves as an inspiration to the girls that pass through it. “Brooke has dedicated considerable time to our Shine Programme, which offers student narrative mentorship through workshops and masterclasses. She connects with our girls on their level, sharing her triumphs and – equally – her challenges, and relating to them warmly and honestly.”
But Brooke says taking part in programmes like Shine is as beneficial and uplifting for her as it is for the students it aims to encourage. “There’s just inspiration everywhere,” she says. “There are people doing amazing things through their community, through the companies they’ve founded, or through the ways they give back. It reminds me that we’re lifelong learners, and that there is still so much growth to come for me.”
Bringing her family – including her mother – back to Woodford House over the weekend has been a special occasion for Brooke, who says some of her fondest memories of her time at the school are of the longstanding friendships formed on its grounds. But more than that, she says Woodford House played a key role in developing her into the person she is today.
“Schools are in a position where they can really make a difference, and part of that is by not placing any limiting beliefs on anybody,” Brooke says. “I’ve heard way too many stories of students who went to career counsellors to be told they couldn’t do something. But what if they were told that they could? What if the school’s role is to come from a place of encouragement and support, and to nurture curiosity?
“I’m really proud to have attended a school where entrepreneurship is valued just as much as academia, or sport.”
The Tempus Award was presented to Brooke Roberts on Saturday 29 October, at Woodford House. Previous recipients of the award include Dame Kate Harcourt, Miranda Smith and Poppy Renton.
Media Release – 31 October 2022