"New Zealand needs to embrace its non-sporting heroes": Claudia Batten

by Mackenzie McCarty06 Jun 2014
World Class New Zealand Awards’ youngest-ever Supreme Award winner, Claudia Batten, says a background in commercial law has been “invaluable” in aiding her entrepreneurial pursuits.

The awards recognise New Zealanders who have advanced the country's reputation on the world stage.  Batten, a Russell McVeagh alumnus, is a digital entrepreneur who supports start-up ventures and has been involved in several highly successful entrepreneurial ventures.

Speaking to NZ Lawyer from her adopted home in the Colorado, USA, Batten says she’s still “a little overwhelmed” by the recognition.

“Some of the prior winners are heroes of mine, so to be in their orbit makes my head spin a little,” she says. “I believe that New Zealand needs to embrace its many non-sporting heroes a lot more [and] I am pleased that the awards are considering younger people who still have a lot to give to the world - because I sure have a lot more to give.”

Batten describes her experience as a corporate lawyer as having been invaluable to her new-found career path.

“I advise many young law students to go to the big firms. I learned so much. It’s not the technical law (though that can be truly helpful, but hasn’t always translated directly to the US), but [knowing] how to conduct myself professionally always gave me an edge – not to mention confidence. Plus knowing you have a law career to fall back on makes taking big leaps into the unknown just a little less scary. Just a little...”

Speaking of leaps into the unknown, Batten is currently involved in a number of projects, including her acclaimed networking app Broadli.

“I have a couple of other projects I am playing with and I am actively involved in Star86, which is a fantastic company from New Zealand that is trying to get its big break in the US. I am also on the board of The Icehouse and Serko, both incredible opportunities to support what we fondly refer to as ‘NZInc’.”

However, Batten isn’t entirely ruling out a return to law – or a permanent return to New Zealand – though she says she’s not a huge fan of making plans.

“Commercial law I can’t see happening, but I don’t ever rule things out. It would be really weird to do that but I think I would be a kick-ass lawyer after all my entrepreneurial experience. The clients might get sick of me telling stories though! I love New Zealand and I spend a lot of time there at the moment. I don’t really make plans so I can’t say that I have a plan per se - but I am pretty sure I will continue to spend a lot of time in my homeland.”

When asked if she has any advice for readers who might be considering starting up their own entrepreneurial businesses, Batten admits it’s “a lot harder than you would think”.

“Watch my talk on the Squiggly Line: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQnOS_sMjv8. It seems like blatant self-promotion but it’s the truth. It’s a lot harder than you would think, it’s a lot more rewarding that you would think and it’s not for everyone. Don’t do it because it looks glamorous, don’t do it for the money, but if you can’t turn that ‘what if’ voice off in your head - DO IT!”

Batten began her career as a solicitor in Russell McVeagh's Wellington office in 1999 and has been a part of two successful ventures which have had exits. She is currently focussing on her new business venture, app Broadli.

The World Class New Zealand Awards Awards, established by Kea (Kiwi Expatriates Association) New Zealand in 2003, include among past winners former Deputy Prime Minister Sir Don McKinnon, fashion entrepreneur Peri Drysdale and physicist Sir Paul Callaghan, who was recognised posthumously in 2012.