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Source: University of Waikato

The University of Waikato is honouring four of its past students with Distinguished Alumni Awards including professional director, Liz Coutts. At the age of 31, Liz Coutts took on her first CEO role and within three years had been appointed as a director for Trust Bank New Zealand.

The University of Waikato says Ms Coutts was a worthy recipient of their Distinguished Alumni Award for her many successes and contributions made to not only the business community through her extensive governance roles but the wider community also.

Matamata born and raised, Ms Coutts graduated from the University of Waikato in 1981 with a Bachelor of Management Studies.

“My time at university taught me tenacity, self-motivation and discipline. Having a Bachelor of Management from Waikato has held me in good stead,” she says.

Her first job as a graduate saw her move to Kawerau for an accountant’s role in the forestry sector. It was the possibility of financial independence that drove Ms Coutts into the business world.

“I wanted to have independence, I wanted to be self-sufficient – it wasn’t about a job. I wanted to be in business and run a business and have my own financial independence.”

Her own business success, Coutts says, was simply “being in the right place at the right time.”

“I was fortunate to have people in senior positions who supported me when I was in my late 20s to early 30s.”

Now with more than 20 years’ experience in governance roles, she has a portfolio of positions across a wide range of industries and sectors. Her ability to work within complex and challenging environments and her attention to detail, have made her a sought-after board director and advisor.

She chairs the boards of directors of Ports of Auckland, Oceania Healthcare, EBOS Group and Skellerup Holdings, is a director for Tennis Auckland and a member of the Marsh New Zealand Advisory Board.

Ms Coutts works to address diversity on boards and in 2017 was elected the first female President of the NZ Institute of Directors.

In June 2016, she was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for Services to Governance. She has also continued to give back to the University of Waikato as a former member of the Waikato Management School Advisory Board.

Ms Coutts is one of four Distinguished Alumni, and will receive her award in October, along with My Food Bag CEO Kevin Bowler, professional director Tania Te Rangingangana and Māori Land Court Judge and Chief Justice of Niue, Judge Craig Coxhead.