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500 Women in 5 Years: The Next Phase for Marisa Fong

December 17, 20233 min read

A self-described serial entrepreneur, investor, director, and speaker, Marisa Fong might just be one of the savviest women business leaders in New Zealand. Growing up in Auckland after her parents immigrated from Hong Kong, Marisa learned from the ground up not just how to put in hard work – but also how to spot a business opportunity. And these days, she’s making the most of every opportunity.

8 Reasons

Living a portfolio life

In her early years, Marisa tried a bit of everything – from working in a cocktail bar in Auckland to roles in marketing and merchandising to cold-calling businesses as part of a recruitment firm. She went on to co-found Madison Recruitment, alongside Wynnis Armour. The business was acquired in 2013 for a landmark eight figure sum. 

Since then, Marisa has become a stalwart of several boards (Chair of Simplicity Foundation, past Chair of Professionelle Foundation, Past Chair and Director of Enprise Group, past President and Learning Chair of EO, and an Advisory Board member for a number of companies). 

And these days, she’s living what she describes as a “true portfolio life” – investing in a wide portfolio of start-ups, working with strategic execution experts Advisory.Works to develop new products, co-owning a powder coating factory and (most importantly, it seems), continuing to be a fierce advocate and support for women in business and leadership diversity.

In her happy space – mentoring women 

“I don’t ‘fix’ people,” says Marisa, “because I don’t believe in broken people.” In her work with women leaders, Marisa focuses on bringing out the “inner superpower” that so often goes unrecognised. 

In business, women often question how they fit in and where they can contribute. They’re taught or trained to be quiet, to dampen their voice. Marisa is on a mission to give those leaders the tools to amplify that voice that’s been muffled. 

“There is an ongoing feeling of being not good enough – and that’s where it’s so important to put the mirror up and show women just how powerful they can be,” says Marisa.

With a book on the way, a small number of women who she coaches/mentors, and workshops targeting women in business, Marisa’s focus is all about widening the impact of this message. Taking a practical – rather than a theoretical – approach, she is determined to help “close the gap between knowing and doing”.

EO: more than just business advice

Since first joining the New Zealand branch of the Entrepreneurs Organization (EO) in 2013, Marisa says that the support and learning has taken her far beyond the scope of business.

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To stay sustainable in business pursuits, you have to find balance and calm in yourself — and this can feel counterintuitive to ambitious people in the early stages of leadership. “The way I was brought up,” explains Marisa, “was all about getting ahead, finding success, becoming financially independent.” 

EO taught her how to take a broader perspective. “I feel far less urgency now in general. For me, it’s not about driving things through all the time; it’s about creating a flow.”

Impacting 500 women in 5 years

The next phase for Marisa is all about supporting more women. The goal? Create a globally accessible platform that has reached 500 women in five years’ time. 

From mentoring to speaking events to workshops delivered around the world, Marisa is amplifying and empowering the voices of women in business through stronger networks, communities, and mentorship. EO has been an ongoing source of learning, support, and outreach for Marisa – but it takes internal drive to soak in the valuable opportunities that are there. 

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EO New Zealand is celebrating the powerful women of EO – and inviting more female entrepreneurs to discover just how EO can help them take their business and personal growth to the next level. Join us for our Women of EO event on Monday October 9th at 5.30pm at the Socialites office – reach out to an EO member you know for an invite.

Check out Marisa's website here


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