by Divina Paredes

Movers and shakers: Rob Fyfe, Julian Potter and Nagib Kassis

Dec 18, 2017

Rob Fyfe takes on a new role – as an independent advisor who will provide impartial advice on plans for the re-entry of the Pike River drift.

“Rob Fyfe’s background as former CEO of Air New Zealandmeans he is well equipped to advise on safety sensitive activities and workplace environments needing best practice risk assessment and management,” says Andrew Little, Minister Responsible for Pike River Re-entry.

Little says Fyfe displayed “real empathy for those who had suffered tragedy which he shared in the aftermath of the 2008 A320 crash in France”.

Andrew Little

“He also sent 30 airline personnel to assist the Pike families immediately following the disaster in 2010. The members of the Pike River Families Reference Group have expressed their support for this role and the appointee,” says Little.

Fyfe will take up the role from 31 January 2018, when Te K?hui Whakamana Rua Te Kau m? Iwa-Pike River Recovery Agency will also be formally established.

Related reading: Rob Fyfe: Adversity defines you as a leader

Rob Fyfe at a CIO Leaders’ Luncheon in Auckland

Julian Potter is the new group country manager for Visa in Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific. He succeeds Stephen Karpin, who is relocating to Singapore as group country manager regional Southeast Asia.

“It’s a truly exciting time to be in payments because new technologies and consumer preferences are driving a great deal of innovation from existing and new industry participants,” says Potter.

“Australia and New Zealand are at the forefront of this change, and I see great opportunity for Visa to collaborate with its clients and partners to drive the next generation of commerce experiences in the region.”

Julian Potter

He adds: “I see big opportunity for commerce in many areas, largely driven by mobile technology and connected devices. The Internet of Things is not only going to drive a more connected world, it’s changing the way we live, shop and pay, by moving data and the point-of-sale to wherever the consumer wants it to be.”

Potter brings over 25 years of financial services experience to Visa, having held leadership roles in retail banking, risk management, credit operations, finance and decision management. He was most recently head of Citibank’s consumer business in Australia.

Nagib Kassis

Nagib Kassis leaves Allianz after 15 years at the insurance organisation to undertake his first chief information officer role at ASX-listed FlexiGroup Limited.

“It has been a long term ambition of mine to be a CIO and all the roles I had contributed nicely to this sort of role,” Kassis tells CIO Australia.

Kassis says he was attracted to this role at FlexiGroup because he can own FlexiGroup’s technology and digital portfolio ‘end-to-end’. FlexiGroup offers financial products such as interest free cards, no interest payment plans and leasing, to businesses and consumers through retailers such as Harvey Norman and Apple resellers.

Linda Cheer

A group of NZ education consultants who created a teaching model from their work in forest schools, now adopted by other schools around the country, have been named among the world’s top innovators in education.

Longworth Forest, of Longworth Education, was selected by Finnish based education experts HundrED from 100 inspiring educators to profile globally.

A forest school is based on an outdoor education model in which children spend time in natural spaces to learn personal, social and technical skills.

There are a growing number of forest schools in New Zealand as well as mainstream schools which have adopted the forest school philosophy into their indoor and outdoor learning environments The curriculum model originated in Wisconsin 90 years ago.

Former teacher and company founder Linda Cheer says during her time teaching, she became increasingly concerned that NZ children had too many restrictions put on them and could benefit from the forest schools model.

“I became very disillusioned with the traditional classroom and the system. I felt that there was a need to have children learning outside, playing outside. I didn’t think they got enough time outdoors and the only times they did head out was during lunchtime and morning tea, and if they were taken outside for PE then it was adult directed.”

Cheer and her husband Bruce, also a teacher, established Longworth Forest on their 1.6 hectare property in Poraiti, Napier, where children attended three days a week.

Massey University doctoral student and company co-director Sarah Aiono says there is a great deal of research which highlights the importance of having children learning through play.

Sarah Aiono

“We’re not talking about free play, rather about the opportunities for children to engage in learning that develops problem solving skills, risk-taking, or resiliency; the sorts of skills that they need in life,” says Aiono.

Spark New Zealand has appointed Pip Greenwood as an independent non-executive director to the Board, to replace Mark Verbiest who retired in November 2017.

Greenwood’s appointment will take effect from 1 April 2018. She is a senior partner at law firm Russell McVeagh, who has over 10 years’ experience on the Russell McVeagh board, including a period as the firm’s chair. Once her appointment becomes effective, the Spark New Zealand Board will once again consist of eight directors: Justine Smyth, Alison Barrass, Paul Berriman, Alison Gerry, Ido Leffler, Charles Sitch, Pip Greenwood and Simon Moutter.

Send news tips and comments to

Follow Divina Paredes on Twitter: @divinap

Follow CIO New Zealand on Twitter:@cio_nz

Sign up for CIO newsletters for regular updates on CIO news, views and events.

Join us on Facebook.