Jenny Phillips

1966 to 1967

After leaving Matamata College, Jenny graduated BA from the University of Waikato, and went on to become a well-known journalist, author and businesswoman. 
Jenny Phillips attended Matamata primary school, then Iona College in Hawkes Bay (a boarding school) for three years and returned to Matamata College for her sixth and seventh year in 1966-67. She was a prefect and sports captain. 

After majoring in English and philosophy at the University of Waikato, she graduated with a BA and permission to go onto honours. However after a stint as women’s VP for the Students’ Association, and editing the student handbook, journalism beckoned. 

She reported for the Waikato Times, and was then offered a job with her own column, The Phillips file, on the Dominion at the age of 21.  

Later she opened a boutique in Hamilton, freelanced (as Women’s editor for Straight Furrow and Editor of Capital Visitor amongst others), and after marriage and children (Doug and Shona Riddell) wrote the bestseller, Mothers Matter Too, published in 1983. Hard to imagine now, when the Internet is littered with blogs for mothers, but providing women at home, who were very restricted in speaking honestly about their experiences back then, with a voice, was described as ‘groundbreaking,’ by reviewers at the time.  

‘Jenny Phillips has thrown a lifeline to women at home.’ The Dominion 1983. 

‘Her style of writing is informal, vibrant and intelligent, her approach a captivating blend of vivid personal anecdotes and serious discussion illustrated by the experiences of the many homemakers she has interviewed; the proof of her success is the book itself.’ The Listener.  

In 1981 she had created her communication business, Clarity, and went on to run the business for 22 years, first headquartered in Wellington and later in Auckland, with a franchise in Christchurch. In 1988 she won the More Businesswoman of the Year award for outstanding achievement in the media/communications sector.  

Her career as an author continued – there were nine subsequent books including two more on motherhood, one on business for women, a small time management book, a business manual and motivational books.  

Jenny later became a judge for Her Business magazine awards, and was a judge for The Young Enterprise awards. 

After some years of service as a degree monitor for NZQA, monitoring the quality of business and communication degrees, she was made an honorary research fellow by the open Polytechnic of New Zealand. 

Jenny remembers headmaster Mr Lucas, fierce but fair, and Miss Cranswick, tiny grammar teacher extraordinaire, before whom even the most strapping teenage boy trembled. Also Mr Horsborough, who encouraged her to ‘step outside the box’ and study philosophy.  Women did not become philosophers back then, so there were no role models, but writing books became an opportunity to become a philosopher of sorts. 

Jenny has been living with brain injury for 15 years.