We can all agree 2020 has been a year of change & challenge. There was one more change in store for Soda Inc. in 2020 and that's saying goodbye to Rachel Adams after 10 years and 10 months of service.

Rachel has been embedded into the fabric of Soda since the beginning and has been key to imagining and executing initiatives to support and grow the startup and entrepreneurial eco-system both regionally and nationally.

From building teams, to training interns, to organising events, to creating a coworking space, to getting involved in or launching countless initiatives such as Soda Seed Grants, NZ Startup Bootcamp, 1:1 mentoring sessions, Fieldays Innovation Den, Hack The Crisis etc. -  if you know Rachel, you know she's a super connector and does what she says she's going to do.

Taking it back to 2010 where it all began, Rachel was nearing the end of her studies at the University of Waikato and was helping her mum pull together the international stage show Green Fire Islands. GFI was one of Soda's first clients which is where Rachel met the founding CEO of Soda, Cheryl Reynolds. A university paper allowed credits for an internship so her journey at Soda began with a 25 hour per week internship.

Following a short stint overseas, Rachel returned and was offered a role as Communications Manager where she became employee number 3.

In 2011, Rachel was a part of the founding group that created the NZ Startup Bootcamp (formally know as The Innes48 Business Startup Competition). The first event was held from 31 March - 2 April 2012. The event has grown year on year and gained national momentum. Over 520 participants have participated and 180 mentors have volunteered over 7,000 hours of time – sharing their networks and knowledge.

2013 saw Rachel being a part of the campaign to get Mary Jane Innes recognised for her lifes work and posthumously inducted into the NZ Business Hall of Fame. Soda's name came from the history of this woman and the building we once inhabited. After 2 years of campaigning, Mary Jane Innes was officially inducted into the NZ Business Hall of Fame.

2015 saw Soda making the move from The Meteor building at 1 Victoria St, to its current location in Wintec House. Rachel also made a move of her own, taking over as Head of Operations at Soda, a position she's held for the last 5 years. This role has Rachel responsible for process improvement, managing the team and leading all things startup.

Ultimately it was the people that kept Rachel at Soda for almost 11 years. "I have met thousands of ambitious people from all walks of life, which gave me opportunities to connect our clients and help their business dreams come to life."

Key moments of influence, mentoring and support in the early days of her journey at Soda came from Cheryl Reynolds, Paul Holloway, Peter Adamek, Vanessa Clark, Bianca Angel and Dr. Claire McGowan. Since 2015, Anna Devcich has been Rachels right hand.  

"I can honestly say I've never had a boring day at Soda. There is always so much happening and the energy is infectious. I will miss the team and great people I get to interact with daily."

Her experience and involvement with Soda has given her the confidence of understanding client's challenges around the progression of their own businesses, which makes her advice and assistance all the more relevant and constructive.

"I am proud of the relationships and connections Soda has built up and down the country. It allows us to pass on our knowledge to other business centres and entrepreneurs in the startup eco-system  and connect our clients with epic people."

Rachel is still very much plugged into the entrepreneur, startup and small business ecosystems and is always happy to help.

Rachel starts her new journey as the General Manager of Manaaki.io in January.

To say Rachel will be missed is an understatement. The Soda team thank her for her mighty contributions, all the fun memories and wish her all the best.

Aroha nui, The Soda whanau.