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MYOB Women in Tech, part two: Banqer co-founder Kendall Flutey on giving up the corporate world to chase a dream

Forget the ingredients touted as necessary to make a little girl in the age-old nursery rhyme, What Are Little Boys Made Of? To be a woman business leader, you need to have more than a pinch of resilience and a dash of tenacity. This is because although the country has made big strides when it comes to inclusivity, there’s still work to do before true equality is reached. Take the recent 2019 MYOB Women In Tech Report, which found nearly half of the industry’s women leaders have personally experienced gender bias during their career, just a quarter of local technology businesses have equal representation in their leadership teams and only one in ten tech businesses work to actively address discrimination. Katie Byrne talks candidly to Banqer’s Kendall Flutey about carving her career path, overcoming personal challenges and finding grit.

  • Read part one in this series with Metia Interactive founder Maru Nihoniho here

Accountant and software developer Kendall Flutey is the co-founder and CEO of Banqer, an online education platform teaching financial literacy and business smarts to kids in classrooms across Aotearoa. She is also no stranger to change. 

The Kiwibank 2019 Young New Zealand of the Year winner has forged a reputation as someone who can brighten a room with her limitless passion for both tech and education in Aotearoa.

The visionary Kiwi's story is embedded in transformation – it is something she talks about candidly about at events and conferences – and she even sold her corporate wardrobe when she left one of the big four companies, KPMG, to traverse the entrepreneurial path.  

While shedding a corporate identity is one thing, a change in Flutey’s subconscious prompted her to change the path she was going down.  

"If I Iook back five years, I can say with certainty that I was narrow-minded,” she says. “My beliefs were rooted in success and compensation. I didn't know who I was on a fundamental level, and I started to realise that if I didn't change, these negative traits would have grown."

Sometimes I still get jealous and think the grass is greener and wonder if it would be easier to get a 9-till-5 job and go for work drinks and go travelling, but I want to be more complete as who I am and not let the ghost of what success looks like linger.

For Flutey, she says her primary focus at the time was possessions and status.

"It wasn't an ‘A-ha moment’ I often hear some people talk about, it was a slow undoing on my practiced and embedded belief system,” she says. "I was so unhappy. I was working at KPMG, and I looked around and thought, ‘Okay, maybe this is it.’ I looked at the milestones ahead, and I knew I didn't want it – this doesn't look or feel like happiness to me – this version of success will never bring me happiness.

"It was overwhelming: the stress and anxiety, alongside unhappiness. I had invested so much in myself, and now I was questioning it. I know there must have been excitement in there somewhere at the prospect of trying something new, but all I remember is the fear. It felt like a midlife crisis; it really did feel that dramatic.

"I would have still been a depressed accountant in years to come, I just knew this was the right time to change. It's like we [society] have this linear view of career progression, and I certainly had that."

Flutey knew she wanted to build and to design tech. Once she'd enrolled at New Zealand's leading coding school, Enspiral Dev Academy, she said she could feel the weight lifting. While training to be a software developer at the 15-week boot camp, she did an exercise to explore what made her happy and decided to swim with the current instead of fighting against it.

This exploration led her to sell 90 percent of her stuff (she is, after all, a self-confessed all-or-nothing person) and dedicate everything to being the kind of person she wanted to be.

"I feel like moving into tech and creating Banqer was fortuitous timing and luck, but having the courage to listen to myself and knowing that I find immense fulfilment in helping others and enriching their lives brings a great deal of satisfaction to me,” Flutey says.

"Sometimes I still get jealous and think the grass is greener and wonder if it would be easier to get a 9-till-5 job and go for work drinks and go travelling, but I want to be more complete as who I am and not let the ghost of what success looks like linger."

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