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High fives, thank yous and a big welcome!

On behalf of our Deputy Chair and CEO I would like to warmly thank everyone who attended and participated at our AGM last week. Also, a huge thanks to our amazing NZTech team and not just for last week but the last 12 months. You all know who you are! Thank you.

Our AGM marked yet another year of phenomenal growth for the Kiwi technology industry and our diverse engagement across the New Zealand economy. Read our 2017 Annual Report here.  It also highlighted NZTech’s success in connecting, promoting and advancing the entire sector, broadening engagement in both our ecosystem and with other industries.

Over the past 12 months, it has been pleasing to see the wider tech sector continue to come together from diverse interests, joining the ever growing NZTech Alliance. At the same time, the Government continues to be actively involved with our sector, providing connections and support across many interest areas, as we continue to aggregate and channel the voices of our diverse community.

Our board composition also continues to evolve, reflecting the diversity of our sector, as well as enabling NZTech to support advancement in new areas where our attention, experience, structure and resource can be leveraged to accelerate growth and deliver significant impact. Our Deputy Chair Rachel Kelly and I have been privileged to lead the amazing team that makes up NZTech board and look forward to another exciting year of growth and advancement of our sector.

Record number of board candidates

NZTech had record participation for board election this year, with 21 strong candidates for seven available positions, plus a record high number of votes from our members. Sincere thanks to the candidates for putting themselves forward and the members who voted. Together you demonstrate passion for advancing our sector and the willingness to step forward beyond your own organisations. This occurs at a time when both our opportunity for growth as an industry and our impact on the rest of the economy and the global future of New Zealand are simply enormous.

While not all candidates were able to be elected to this year’s board, there are other ways to make notable impact. Many of our communities and industry initiatives are looking for the leadership, passion, talent, experience, connections and resources which you can contribute. Whether you are on our board or not, the opportunity to participate in advancing the New Zealand tech sector is very much present. Additionally, positions on our board inevitably are made available on occasion, at which time we are able to invite new board members to join the team.

Board member news

We are excited to have such a diverse range of talent and experience for our board again this year. Congratulations to our new board members Latipay’s Leigh Flounders, IBM’s Mike Smith and Tech Futures Lab’s Sarah Hindle. Welcome to the NZTech team! Congratulations also to our returning board members Eva Sherwood (Oracle), Kim Connolly-Stone (Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE)), Paul Deavoll (Spark) and Melissa Firth (Te Papa). A big thank you to retiring board member Mandy Simpson for all that you have contributed, we miss you already!

Not ‘normal’, not really!

With growing but still finite resources as a not for profit industry association, collaborating with others, leveraging strengths and connections, finding synergies and inspiring leadership are all part of our culture and practice at NZTech. Our industry experienced, connected, engaged and high performing board plays a crucial role in extending the reach and impact of our organisation.

To continue unleashing the full potential of the NZTech organisation, part of my role as the Chair is to harness the full potential of our entire board. In this, I am very fortunate to be working with a highly capable and committed team, and would like to acknowledge everyone contribution.

What this all means is that we are not a ‘normal’ industry association board, not really. Our board members do more than standard representation and governance duties that one may reasonably expect. Everyone takes ownership, leads and drives various areas of opportunity. We constantly push the boundaries of our organisation’s engagement across the sector, with government, with industries, the public and also international communities. As a result, this enables our members to gain access to more networks and opportunities.

Our board’s particular way of functioning has developed over time with new members applying leadership to the opportunities before us. We empower and support our board members to lead in industry development. This is our new normal and an important part of NZTech’s board culture.

Notable contributions

Rachel Kelly from SparkTank is our Deputy Chair, a role designed to provide continuity and scalability to the function of Chair. She leads our regional connections frontier, growing closer ties with regions outside of the main cities. This is an important growth area for NZTech in order to truly deliver on our agenda. Rachel is also a member of our Governance Sub-board.

Barrie Shears from Microsoft and Paul Deavoll from Spark represent our major corporate members. Both bring the resources from their large enterprises to support the functioning of our board, activities of our organisation, our industry reach and technology initiatives. Paul has also been instrumental in the establishment and functioning of our new FinTechNZ community, as an active member of its Core Working Group.

Eva Sherwood from Oracle is another representative of major corporate members on our board. She leads our NZTech Women frontier and gender diversity agenda. This is an important area of capability development for our industry.

Kim Connolly-Stone from MBIE is a government member on our board. Kim has been instrumental in providing government participation and support to our numerous communities such as FinTechNZ, EdTechNZ, New Zealand IoT Alliance, AI Forum New Zealand, CreativeTech, LegalTech and important industry initiatives such as Techweek, Digital Skills Forum and NZTech Women projects.

Tom Chignell from Unitec Institute of Technology is our board member from the education sector. He leads two areas of interest for NZTech, board advancement and education technology. He is the chair of our Governance Sub-board and a member of the Executive Council of our EdTechNZ community, adding to the new energy that is propelling that part of the tech sector forward.

Robett Hollis from Aranui Ventures leads the NZTech Startups frontier and has built a huge community following. Robett is a constant challenger of ‘the way things have been’ and generator of ideas for ‘new ways of doing things’ to magnify NZTech’s impact on the industry.

Melissa Firth from Te Papa connects NZTech to the cultural, artistic, entertainment and creative community. She leads our new CreativeTech frontier, a high growth area of the tech sector. She asserts a different perspective from the non-traditional tech sector.

Simon Martin from Hudson Gavin Martin serves as Legal Counsel to our board. Simon is a member of our Governance Sub-board and maintains a strong focus on sound practices for the board and the organisation. He is a strong supporter of our rapidly emerging LegalTech community.

Cyber Toa’s Mandy Simpson, formerly of NZX, represented corporate members, then startup members. She led pivotal internal conversations that inspired the board and the organisation to support the establishment of our FinTechNZ community. Subsequently she played a key role on the Core Working Group. Thank you again for your wisdom, commitment and energy.

Dil Khosa from Parrot Analytics has served as our first Board Intern for a year. She proved that this new programme delivers value and provided relevant feedback on how we can improve it for this year. Dil is also involved in our new IoT and AI communities.

Our CEO Graeme Muller has been a key participant on our board. He continually extends himself to support the board, lead the organisation, collaborate, meet members, work with government, join delegations, speak at industry events and promote our cause in the media. Graeme is the glue that connects all the pieces of the NZTech jigsaw together and we are very fortunate to have such a talented and committed CEO.

I am energised for the year ahead and what this means as NZTech continues to stimulate an environment where technology provides important social and economic benefits for New Zealand.


Mitchell Pham

Photo L-R; NZTech CEO Graeme Muller, Deputy Chair Rachel Kelly and Chair Mitchell Pham

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