Denise Arnold’s day job is a Director in Lyon O’Neale Arnold Lawyers, but her volunteer role is Trustee and Programme Director for the Cambodia Charitable Trust. She divides her time between the two as well as being a wife, mother, mother in law and nana to two pre-schoolers and a Kelpie. She is involved in education in both of her “work” roles, contributing to regular education columns and the Law Library Series, and supporting the development of the education system in Cambodia.
She completed her Law Degree through Auckland University and has worked as a lawyer for more than 30 years. When she started as a lawyer there was some bias from clients against female lawyers working in commercial law. At that time she felt she needed to prove herself. However she doesn’t feel this way anymore (maybe as she has simply proven herself) and she has long relationships with many of her clients which are based on mutual respect. Denise says sometimes in law you need to be tough and be prepared to hold the line in an argument. “You need to be a strategic planner and future focussed to make sure anything you do fits with your clients long term goals”. This has prepared her well for her development work in Cambodia, enabling her to negotiate with the government and develop strategic plans for bringing long term change.
A few years ago she completed her Masters in International Development through Massey University as a distance student. She did this as she wanted to understand the geopolitical influences and different development theories to ensure she was doing the right thing in her development work in Cambodia.
Denise has a strong sense of social justice. She sees the gap between developing and developed countries widening. There will be more people living below the poverty line while there is abundance in other countries. This drives her to bring about social justice and give children in Cambodia a chance for an education so they can support themselves and their families. Denise wants to leave this world in a better place than when she came into it. If that is not possible, she at least wants to empower as many people as possible to live a fulfilling life.
Denise loves living in Tauranga. She finds it is big enough to give you personal space, but small enough that you bump into friends when you are out and about. She loves being near the sea and believes we have some of the best cafes and restaurants in the world. Mostly though she loves being near family.
She likes cooking but these days finds she doesn’t seem to have the time or patience for fiddly dishes. She likes walking and bike riding, especially if there is a good coffee at the end. She enjoys sailing as long as she can assume the role of advisor rather than having to do too much work!
Denise’s advice for other women is, “We need to take a long view and be careful we balance the demands placed on us. Many of these demands we add to ourselves unnecessarily, and we take our cues of what we can reasonably achieve from media where real life is not accurately represented. Find what feels right for you and don’t compare yourselves to others.”