Over the seven forums, we have had some amazing panelists come and share their experiences and opinions, helping to continue the discussion on diversity and bias in the workplace.

18 October 2019 Panel

Ngapera Riley

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Deputy CEO, Figure.NZ

Ngapera is the Deputy CEO of Figure.NZ, a technology company that believes in the democratisation of data, and exists to enable everyone in New Zealand to make sense of data and see Aotearoa clearly. Ngapera has spent most of her professional career working in the United States developing business opportunities for NZ companies. On her return to New Zealand she spent several years working with tertiary providers and Universities with a focus on inspiring, supporting and developing programmes that contribute to Maori and Pacific success in education. Previously she has worked for NZTE, the Ministry of Health, and several Universities.

Akerei Maresala-Thomson

The Panelists

Co-Founder, MYRIVR

Akerei is a social architect, award winning leader and Co-Founder of the multi award winning free community app MYRIVR, the largest in app directory in NZ with the goal of becoming the largest enabler of community services in the world. Previous to taking on this role, he was the former General Manager of the Village Collective, an innovative Pacific NGO based in Auckland, New Zealand that delivers sexual health prevention programmes across New Zealand.As a former youth gang member and child sexual abuse survivor,he is passionate about prevention advocacy roles and innovations for positive social outcomes. In 2018 he became a White Ribbon NZ Ambassador and also launched a global child sexual abuse prevention project in partnership with America.

Alexandra Allan

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CEO at The FoodBowl, NZ Food Innovation Auckland.

Alexandra is the Chief Executive of The FoodBowl, a government funded accelerator enabling companies to manufacture, commercialise and export new food and beverage products. Alexandra is part of a growing focus on innovation to not only create added value export opportunity for the New Zealand economy but for people from all walks of life to create products and businesses that reflect the diverse make-up of New Zealand. Previously, she developed confectionery products at Cadbury, early life nutrition products at Nutricia New Zealand, and worked as Technical Manager for Horleys sports nutrition.

Nurain Janah

The Panelists

Business Advisory Accountant | Social Entrepreneur

Nurain is an Accountant specialising in Tax & Business Advisory Services at William Buck Christmas Gouwland. After moving to New Zealand from the island country of Maldives at a young age, she grew up in Auckland as a proud Kiwi Muslim.  Recently, she initiated “She4She” – a platform connecting young women in New Zealand to support services and organisations according to their needs. Nurain was recently recognised as a finalist in the Women of Influence Awards. She was also awarded the Waitematā Local Board Good Citizens Award for her work establishing the Waitematā Youth Collective. Nurain represented New Zealand at the 2017 UN Commission on the Status of Women advocating for young women of colour in the workplace.

21 June 2019 Panel

Rebecca Thomas

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Founder and CEO of Mint Asset Management

Rebecca founded Mint in 2006. She has a strong pedigree in funds management, with a career spanning 30 years, both in New Zealand and offshore. Her previous executive positions include Managing Director and Chief Investment Officer of Johnson Fry, a London-based funds management firm, acquired by Legg Mason, where she went on to hold the position of Group Chief Executive Officer. On moving to New Zealand she became Chief Investment Officer for ING (NZ) Limited.  Rebecca has been a Director and Chair of the AFRC of KiwiRail Holding Limited and an Associate member and AFRC Chair on the Board of the Financial Markets Authority from 2011-2016.

Kristen Lunman

Kristen lunman

FinTech Innovator & Founder of Hatch

Kristen is a senior strategy professional with over a decade of experience running product teams at a wide range of organisations in North America. With interests in innovation and startups, she directed New Zealand’s first FinTech accelerator, preparing startups to compete on a global scale. More recently as Kiwi Wealth’s Director of Innovation, Kristen validated a financial platform concept using proven startup processes. This led to the launch of Hatch, an investment platform that provides easy and affordable access to world-class investment opportunities. An active mentor, Kristen is passionate about women in leadership, governance, and founder roles.

Kaye-Maree Dunn

Kaye Maree

Director of Indigital Blockchain Limited

Māori Entrepreneur and Facilitator Kaye-Maree has been working in the space of Māori and Community Development, public relations, and communications, with a particular talent for strengthening cross-cultural relationships. Kaye-Maree is fascinated with family, community and technology, and works with Māori groups, especially at a grassroots level to build capability, and identify risks and possibilities for development.

Sam Stubbs

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Managing Director, Simplicity

Sam was most recently the CEO Of Tower Investments, a KiwiSaver default provider. Before that he was Managing Director of Hanover Group, and spent 10 years working for Goldman Sachs in London & Hong Kong. He previously worked for Natwest Markets, Fay, Richwhite and IBM New Zealand. He has been a Board Member of the Financial Services Council, and a member of the Government Taskforce on Financial Services. He has an MA (Hons) from Auckland University, is a father of two children and dreams of simplicity and sailing around the world!

15 February 2019 Panel

Kate Daly


Director, People and Communications, BNZ

Kate was appointed Director, People and Communications, at BNZ in November 2017. In this role, Kate is responsible for leading the organisational culture, talent, and capability initiatives that will enable BNZ to transform banking and deliver outstanding commercial performance through the success of our people. Kate has a background in Human Resources and Communications leadership, having held senior roles across these portfolios since 2001. Most recently, Kate was Chief People and Communications Officer with Fletcher Building Ltd. Fletcher Building manufactures and distributes building products globally and is a major construction company employing 22,000 people in 40 countries. Prior to that Kate was General Manager – People & Performance and Communications with Coca-Cola Amatil (NZ) Ltd, Vice President, Human Resources at Deutsche Bank, London and Vice President, Human Resources at Merrill Lynch also in London. Kate has a Bachelor of Commerce in Economics and International Finance and a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacology, both from the University of Auckland.

Rob Campbell

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Chair of SkyCity, Summerset Group, Toursim Holdings and Wel Networks

Rob is the Chair of SkyCity, Summerset Group Holdings Limited, Tourism Holdings Limited and WEL Networks Limited and a director of Precinct Properties New Zealand Limited. Rob has over 30 years’ experience in capital markets and is a director of or advisor to a range of investment fund and private equity groups in New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong and the United States of America. Rob holds a Bachelor of Arts with First Class Honours in Economic History and Political Science and a Masters of Philosophy in Economics. He is an outspoken advocate of diversity at board and governance levels within New Zealand companies.

Tui Te Hau


Director of Public Engagement, Te Papa

With over a decade of experience in business start-ups under her belt, Tui is the woman you want to go to when you have that lightbulb moment. She’s worked with multiple entrepreneurs wanting to kick-start creative businesses, VR developers, major New Zealand fashion houses and export organisations; she was the Chief Executive of Creative HQ; she established the Lightning Lab accelerator programme, and then went on to set up the world’s first culture accelerator Mahuki, Te Papa’s innovation hub.   Mahuki empowers communities to use culture and technology to create sustainable prosperity and entrepreneurs to succeed commercially in – and beyond – the culture and heritage sector.

Vanessa Sorenson

Journey To Excellence Information Pack Friday 15 February 2019

Enterprise Director, Microsoft

Vanessa has more than two decades’ experience in the New Zealand tech sector. She joined Microsoft New Zealand in 2017 as Enterprise Director, overseeing a large portfolio of business customers and sales teams after a career at Spark spanning 20 years, most recently as General Manager. Also serving as Microsoft’s Diversity and Inclusion team leader, Vanessa leads initiatives to improve gender and cultural diversity in technology and leadership, particularly through education. She is passionate about encouraging more girls to study and embrace STEM subjects and increasing Maori and Pacifica representation in both technology and business, working with schools and education providers to help ensure all students have equal access to technology. She is also a strong driver of change and digital transformation across New Zealand organisations, regularly engaging with business leaders to help them unlock the potential of their organisations through the adoption of digital technologies such as Cloud and Artificial Intelligence. Alongside this Vanessa also spends time working with Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) Aotearoa as a Youth Mentor.

26 October 2018 Panel

Kiri Barfoot

The Panelists

Director, Barfoot & Thompson

Kiri joined Barfoot & Thompson in 1991 in the Accounts department whilst studying for a commerce degree. She represents the third generation of the Barfoot family within the company. After travelling and working overseas in London and Israel, Kiri returned and has held numerous positions with the company, helping her gain an in-depth knowledge in all areas of the business. Before she went on to sell at Glenfield branch, Kiri worked in the telecommunications industry in NZ. She later became the Branch Manager at the Waiuku office, before moving on to manage Otahuhu and Highland Park offices, then stepping up as a regional manager. Kiri is a fellow of the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) and a member of the Institute of Directors. As a Director, Kiri plays an important and strategic role in property management and technology, helping to drive the business forward and bring about new initiatives and innovations that help improve the customer service experience for all.

Kathryn Wilson

The Panelists

Founder, Kathryn Wilson

Kathryn Wilson established herself as New Zealand’s premier footwear designer in just a decade, growing from a fledgling designer to becoming an influential business woman with a brand that is constantly in high demand. After graduating from Massey University and winning an AMP Scholarship, Kathryn honed her design skills and set about creating her own line of footwear. In 2003, under the guidance of successful New Zealand design house Caroline Sills, Kathryn Wilson the label was born. Since then, Kathryn Wilson has emerged as one of the fastest-growing fashion brands in New Zealand. Stocked in over 100 local boutiques and with an ever-growing online market, the label is on the front foot in the fashion industry. Her acute business acumen has also meant Kathryn is in demand as a leader and brand ambassador, garnering the attention of global brands like Samsung, Volvo, Veuve Clicquot, Vodafone and AMP to become long-term supporters of herself and the brand.

June McCabe

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Consultant, Sustainable Prosperity

June has extensive experience across a broad range of industries at governance and senior management levels. She established Sustainable Prosperity (NZ) Limited a management consultancy business providing advice on governance, strategic planning and strategy development, investment banking and Maori capital markets. June’s banking and finance experience spans the last 20 years. In 1997 she joined Westpac Banking Corporation as a senior executive and launched Westpac Corporate responsibility agenda in NZ. Currently, through her consultancy she is in partnership with JBWere, an investment wealth specialist firm with a particular focus on intergenerational wealth through the role of financial assets, global equities and NZ capital markets. She is a strong advocate for building New Zealand’s Leadership capability as evidenced by her role as Founding Chair of the Leadership Institute and for her work toward the economic advancement of both Maori and women. In 2003 she launched a book which she co-authored entitled Woman2Woman aimed at motivating and inspiring women in careers and business.

Mai Chen

The Panelists

Lawyer, Chair of SUPERdiverse Women

Mai is one of NZ’s top constitutional and administrative law experts, with 30 years of experience in the law. Mai specialises in advising on Government policy and legislation, litigating major public law cases, advising on inquiries and reviews, on Treaty of Waitangi and human rights issues and on regulatory defence. Mai sits on the board of directors of the Bank of New Zealand, is Chair of the People and Remuneration Committee and sits on the Audit Committee. Mai is also Adjunct Professor at the University of Auckland, School of Law. She was previously Adjunct Professor in Commercial and Public Law at the University of Auckland, Business School. Mai is also the inaugural Chair of NZ Global Women, including NZ’s top 200 women leaders, and founded and is the inaugural Chair of NZ Asian Leaders connecting top Asian NZ CEOs and emerging leaders with New Zealand companies doing business in Asia to enhance their success to help NZ Inc. Mai is also inaugural Chair of SUPERdiverse WOMEN.

8 & 15 June 2018 Panel

Tracey Cross


Partner, DLA Piper

Tracey leads the national financial services team for DLA Piper, New Zealand’s only global business law firm. She has more than 20 years’ experience in funds management, regulatory compliance, governance and contracting issues. She is on the management committee of Women in Super and chairs DLA Piper’s Leadership Alliance for Women.

Sandhya Pillay


General Manager, Coca-Cola Oceania

Sandhya joined the Coca-Cola system in 2004 in South Africa and has worked in a variety of roles including Retail Shopper Marketing, Customer Capability and Customer Management.In July 2015 she was appointed as the General Manager for Coca-Cola Oceania and relocated to New Zealand with her husband, three young daughters and two dogs. Sandhya is a graduate from the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.

Vic Crone


Chief Executive, Callaghan Innovation

Vic came on board as Chief Executive with Callaghan Innovation in March 2017. She has significant executive and governance experience in technology and innovation. She brings a strong customer focus, and a track record of leading and implementing strategy, and building organisational culture. Vic was previously the Managing Director of Xero, NZ and New Markets, following executive roles at Chorus and Telecom New Zealand. She has been an Independent Director on the Boards of a number of companies and organisations in the technology sector, including RedShield, Figure.NZ, Creative HQ and the Hi-Tech Trust.

Emma Eichbaum


Executive Director- Kantar TNS

Emma has been with Kantar TNS New Zealand for over 12 years, beginning her career as a Consultant. Emma is now Executive Director and is responsible for developing and overseeing the implementation of the business development strategy for Kantar TNS New Zealand. Over the course of her career, Emma has worked closely with many clients in a range of industries and geographies, consulting for clients in categories including: tourism, aquaculture, retail & commercial banking, insurance, telecommunications, entertainment, education, clothing, energy, media, advertising, and food & beverage. Emma is the Kantar Insights domain lead for Brand Strategy in New Zealand.

Tui Te Hau


General Manager – Mahuki Innovation Hub of Te Papa

With over a decade of experience in business start-ups under her belt, Tui is the woman you want to go to when you have that lightbulb moment. She’s worked with multiple entrepreneurs wanting to kick-start creative businesses, VR developers, major New Zealand fashion houses and export organisations; she was the Chief Executive of Creative HQ; she established the Lightning Lab accelerator programme, and then went on to set up the world’s first culture accelerator Mahuki, Te Papa’s innovation hub.   Mahuki empowers communities to use culture and technology to create sustainable prosperity and entrepreneurs to succeed commercially in – and beyond – the culture and heritage sector.

Caroline Rawlinson


Chief Financial Officer – Trade Me

Caroline joined Trade Me in August 2016 and is responsible for managing Trade Me’s governance, strategy, legal and finance functions.
Prior to Trade Me she was the CFO of Formica Asia (a division of Fletcher Building), a role she has held since October 2013. She was previously Fletcher Building’s general manager of strategy and corporate development, and has also worked at Sealord and PwC.

Bridget Taylor


Executive Creative Director & Co-Founder, Contagion

Bridget is a multi-award winning woman executive creative director, having won and judged awards globally. Cannes gold, D&AD, One Show, Clio Award, ADFEST best in Show and ADFEST Grand LOTUS to name a few. In her years at the helm of Contagion, the company she started has grown to be a top ten agency in the ever-changing market. Bridget Taylor, is of Maori descent and strives to correct the misrepresentation of Maori in the media and advertising realm. She is an advocate of business and the prosperity it can bring to us all. That means giving everyone in our country a fair shot at success. In the global economy a vibrant, diverse local business community is our best defense. Economically and culturally for generations of New Zealanders. And this is what drives Bridget. When Bridget’s not creating marketing, she likes talking about it. She is a regular feature on the hit ABC show The Gruen Transfer, where she demystifies advertising.

16 February 2018 Panel

Linda Meade 


Lead Partner, Deloitte

Linda is Deloitte’s lead partner, public sector for Financial Advisory Services in NZ. Linda is also the lead partner for Deloitte Access Economics in NZ. Recent reports included the “Diversity Dividend” report commissioned by Westpac to the understand the potential economic impact of increasing the proportion of women in management roles from 29% to 50%.

Naomi Ballantyne (ONZM) 


ONZM for services to life insurance

Naomi has over​ 30 years of experience in the New Zealand life insurance industry. She is one of the most well-known and respected executives in the market today and has unprecedented experience in starting companies and then leading them to significant long-term success. Naomi was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for services to the insurance industry.

Theresa Gattung


Co-Founder, My Food Bag

Leading New Zealand business personality and author. For 8 years Theresa was the CEO and MD of Telecom New Zealand and in 2012 co-founded the hugely successful start-up, My Food Bag, which has a turnover of around $130m. Theresa is involved with a number of philanthropic interests, including being co-founder of the World Women Charitable Trust, Patron of the Cambodia Charitable Trust and on the RNZSPCA National Board. In 2015 she was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to business and philanthropy.

Justine Smyth


Chair of Spark

Justine is the Chair of Spark, a Director of Auckland International Airport and Chair of the Breast Cancer Foundation NZ. She is also an active investor and owner of SME’s. Previous roles include being a Board Member of the Financial Markets Authority and Partner of Deloitte.

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