Doing good: Josh Hickford – changing the world a little bit at a time – Stuff

There are few people in Taranaki with a story more widely told than Josh Hickford.
He’s a reality TV star, a cancer survivor, an ironman competitor, an app developer, a chief executive of the philanthropic Taranaki Foundation and an in demand motivational speaker.
Google his name, it’s all there. Well most of it. There are some gaps.
Such as that he and his wife Alex are expecting their second son next month, that they are nearly finished building a new house near where they grew up in New Plymouth, or that he’s still getting used to his first son Bennett calling him dad.
* Taranaki foundations partner with region’s rugby union
* Te Karaka Foundation changes to Taranaki Foundation
* Taranaki cancer survivor a semifinalist for Kiwibank New Zealand Local Hero of the Year award

And then there is the fact that in December he was one of the youngest ever to be granted a fellowship by Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand for his contribution to the accounting profession and his community.
Or that just a few months ago he had to contemplate losing it all with unexplained abdomen pain leading the cancer survivor to once again face his own mortality.
“It’s unnerving. When you work hard to build something up, the thought of losing that is pretty frightening,” he says in a meeting room at his Taranaki Foundation office.
“When you face that mortality situation, it does make you think. I really want to make a mark.”
Fortunately the health scare passed, though there is lingering questions over what caused it. Hickford pushes such concerns aside. He prefers to jump over hurdles rather than go through them, he says.
“You’ve got to have a sense of humour. No one makes it out alive.”
Hickford has hardly made a dent in his 30s and yet he’s done enough to fill a lifetime.
He was just 14 when he decided he wanted to run the TSB and that set him on the path to becoming an accountant.
At Francis Douglas College he claims he wasn’t the most talented athlete, or the most studious pupil.
But won academic prizes, was sports captain, in the First XV (locking with Kane Barrett) and also in the First XI. His score of 221 for 10-pin bowling remains a Taranaki Secondary School record, he thinks.
He put a lot of his success at school down to what he did behind the scenes, rather than on the field or in the classroom.
"Sometimes off the field is more important than what’s on the field. It’s the same in business, too,” he says.
Hickford’s desire to run the TSB stayed with him all through university and into a position at the bank where he stayed for nearly seven years, rising to a senior management position in the accounting department.
At aged 27 he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the treatment of which he was still recovering from when he stared on reality TV series Survivor NZ.
His cancer fight supercharged his ambition and also opened his eyes to a gap in his community, leading him to help fundraise to develop Ripple, an app to connect young people battling cancer.
And while his teenage dream to run the TSB hasn’t gone away, rising through the ranks at the bank is no longer the only pathway to the top. He can come back to it later, he says.
And in 2020 he got out of the bank anyway.
He was just 29 when he applied to be the next chief executive of the philanthropic Taranaki Foundation after reading the “dream” job description about building relationships, making a lasting impact and helping the community grow.
“That’s what I wanted to do. I read the job out to my wife. She said that’s not a real job. I said it was. She said, ‘you will get that’. It felt like the job was too good to be true.”
It wasn’t and for nearly three years Hickford has been at the head of the foundation, most notable recently for supporting New Plymouth’s $5.5 million Destination Play at the city’s Kawaroa playground, construction of which is due to start soon.
Hickford is happy with the role he can play in his community through his position at the foundation, but his ambitions are always expanding. His next move will involve “New Zealand Inc".
He’s not sure what that quite means yet. But he’s a believer in putting things out there, talking about what you want, what you’re thinking and having confidence an opportunity will present itself.
“It’s cliché to say you want to change the world, but if we all do a little bit we really can.”
Do you know anyone else doing good by their community? Email matt.rilkoff@stuff., subject line: Doing Good
© 2023 Stuff Limited


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *