Malindi McLean (Taylor 2005-06) - OC of the Month - May 2022
Tuesday, 31 May 2022

For our May 2022 ‘OC of the Month’ we reconnected with Old Collegian Malindi MacLean (Taylor, 2005-06) to hear about her role as CEO for the Outward-Bound Trust.

Malindi’s appointment to CEO of the NZ Outward Bound Trust in January 2021 makes her the Outdoor Education charity’s first female CEO in its 60-year history.

Malindi was our King’s sportswomen of the year in 2006 and graduated whilst training to be a competitive cyclist, she represented New Zealand that same year at both the World Junior Cycling Champs in Belgium 2006 and at the Oceania Champs, she won the U19 Women’s 500m Time Trial and was runner up in the U19 Women’s Sprint. Malindi also won and was the recipient of a Scholarship to the World Cycling Institute in Aigle, Switzerland.

Fast forward a few years and Malindi has a degree in Politics and Psychology under her belt and has worked for some big-name brands, including being head of Coca-Cola Amatil’s hot beverage business, before moving into financial services and leading transformation delivery at IAG Insurance followed by her role prior to Outward Bound which was General Manager at Hubbards Food.

We caught up with Malindi in between Outward-Bound camping expeditions and off road 4 x4 adventures to hear about her time at King’s, her experience as a competitive cyclist, and her role at Outward Bound.

Malindi is pictured a) with her daughter Anakiwa - Kalifi who is accompanying Malindi to one of the Outward Bound satellite bases in the Sounds and b) as a young New Zealand cycling representative.

  • When you were at King’s College, what did you want to do for a career after you graduated?
    I really had no idea, at times I wanted to be a doctor, at other times a teacher.  I do think I was pretty naive about what was to come after college – I was immersed in professional cycling, traveling, being a teenager.  It’s taken me a long time to get comfortable with who I am, what I like and what value I bring.
  • What is your best memory of your time at King’s College?  
In sixth form we went to Ahuroa in Puhoi for PE camp.  We went caving for a few hours underground and found a huge cave lit up by glow-worms called “Hong Kong City”.  It blew me away.  It was a memorable life moment, not just a memorable school moment. 
  • Which staff member do you remember most favourably from King's College and why?
Mr (Perry) Cunningham, who was the Athletics Coach.  He always treated you like an equal, with respect and kindness.  It was valuable to be taken seriously by adults when you were a teenage girl. 
  • What advice would you give to your school age self?
    Relax & focus on the things you value.  
  • Tell us about yourself now and what you do for a career?
I live a pretty amazing life, and I’m really happy.  My partner Howie & I have a beautiful daughter, and a big huntaway dog, and we spend a lot of time with whānau and doing things we love (mostly in the outdoors).  We’ve adventured all over the world and are now enjoying living in Tamaki Makaurau.  For work, I’m the Chief Executive of Outward-Bound NZ, which is the best job in the world.  My entire working energy is put towards connecting young people with nature and empowering them to change for the better. 
  • What does/did your job involve?    
    Well, my best day has been getting on a Waka Ama (waka with an outrigger) with the Outward Bound team and paddling across the Pelorus Sound to Waikawa Marae at dawn.  We had hector dolphins jumping alongside the waka, so that’s pretty hard to beat.  But no day is the same.  I love that what I do makes a difference.  
  • What are the most challenging parts of your job?
    Juggling being a good mum and a good leader.  I was 7 months pregnant when I started as CEO, and I was still traveling for my new job right up until my due date.  I definitely had to dig deep & find my grit for that.  And then going back to work when Kilifi was 10 weeks old, juggling being a new mum, new job, covid pandemic, it’s been a rollercoaster.  I’ve had moments where I’ve been breastfeeding (with my video off) while on a zoom call with the Chair of my board and discussing the financial impact of covid and just thought, ‘can I do all this?’.  But challenge ultimately helps us grow and can be very rewarding when you come out the other side.

  • What would you say is your biggest achievement to date?
Actually, I was really proud to finish my degree.  I had a stop-start go at university, as I was competing overseas, and eventually put it on the backburner when I started working.  It always felt like unfinished business, so I chipped away at it in the evenings and eventually finished (before I was 30!) I was already running a multi-million dollar business by that stage, but I have found what I learned useful in my working life, and it was symbolic to go back and finish it.
  • What is the single thing that would most improve the quality of your life?
That we take collective action against climate change & biodiversity loss and protect te ao turoa (our natural world) for my daughter and her generation.  That would definitely help me sleep at night.  Too much to ask?
  • What are the three objects you would take with you to a desert island?
    A satellite phone. A boat. A novel.

  • How would you like to be remembered?
    A good person.