by Divina Paredes

Movers and shakers: Owen Werner, Graeme Muller and Mikal Todd

Sep 22, 2017
Artificial IntelligenceBig DataCareers

Owen Werner, chief digital officer of Unitec, will be leaving at the end of this month to join Mitre 10 as group manager IT operations. Hamish Martin, previously IMS customer care manager will be acting chief digital officer at Unitec.

Owen Werner at a a CIO roundtable discussion in Auckland

New Zealand is rapidly becoming a significant digital nation where technology is positively impacting on almost all traditional sectors such as banking, agriculture and tourism, says NZTech CEO Graeme Muller.

Technology’s momentum is now pulling along organisations from right across the New Zealand economy and tech has become the country’s fastest growing industry, says Muller, as the group releases its annual report.

Muller says NZTech membership is rapidly growing to include banks, government agencies, universities and large traditional non-tech corporates.

“NZTech has developed a national alliance, like a Star Alliance for tech, which now consists of 12 associations that, as of May 2017, collectively represent 423 organisations, that employ almost 100,000 people. This growing not for profit community is committed to creating more prosperity for New Zealand underpinned by technology,” says Muller, in a statement.

In May 2018, Techweek will be run again throughout New Zealand with a focus on attracting hundreds of investors and international delegates, says Muller.

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The new NZTech board is Mitchell Pham (Augen – and chair), Barrie Sheers (Microsoft), Eva Sherwood (Oracle), Mike Smith (IBM), Paul Deavoll (Spark), Leigh Flounders (Latipay), Melissa Firth (Te Papa), Rachel Kelly (SparkTank), Sarah Hindle (Tech Future Lab), Kim Connolly-Stone(MBIE), Tom Chignell (Unitec) and Robett Hollis (Aranui Ventures).

Mitchell Pham – Director, Augen Software Group

Kim Connolly-Stone of Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

solarcityannounces two new appointments to its executive team – Mikal Todd as chief information officer and Karen Sharp as head of customer experience.

“What most excites me about working with the team at solarcity is the vision to innovate. disrupt and care for our planet,” says Todd, who has extensive experience as a developer and solutions architect in range of businesses in New Zealand and his homeland in the UK. In 2015, he co-founded CloudinIT which quickly became the fastest growing Salesforce partner in Australia and New Zealand.

Before taking up her new role at solarcity, Karen Sharp was the head of customer care at Skinny Mobile.

Mikal Todd and Karen Sharp of solarcity

solarcity has also been selected as a Tesla Powerwall Certified Installer. This means Tesla Powerwall will be integrated into the company’s solarZero energy service nationally over the coming weeks following the successful commissioning of its first Powerwall 2, solarZero system in August.

“By offering rooftop solar with home batteries, solarcity is able to provide households with the majority of their energy requirements and deliver greater control over their energy use than ever before, says solarcity CEO Andrew Booth.

New IDC report reveals its 10 fast-growing fintechs in Australia and New Zealand.

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The list is part of the IDC Financial Insights’ Triple U framework mdash; ubiquity, utility, and usability.

This is a framework that evaluates fintech data across key metrics such as addressable market, customer adoption, investments, chance of survival, innovation, and marketing.

IDC Financial Insights believes that newer categories of fintechs are gaining traction, including those focused on digital identity and authentication, bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies exchanges, robo-advisory, credit analytics and scoring, and usage-based insurance.

The time is ripe for these startups to elevate their status and focus on growth in the rest of Asia and eventually, the worldIggy Pintado, IDC ANZ

“Australia and New Zealand with the support from the government, fintech hubs, incubators, and accelerator programs have become one of the leading markets for fintech innovation in the world. Though we see diverse categories of fintechs in the region, most of the disruption is visible in payments including remittance and money transfers and peer-to-peer payments. We expect another new area of growth in fintechs – which would be in robo-advisory, changing the modus operandi of wealth management and financial advisory by using the latest technologies in Cognitive but also advanced analytics to deal with huge data sets on trading and financial information,” says Michael Araneta, associate vice president for IDC Financial Insights.

“Fintechs in Australia have been successful locally, but we feel that the time is ripe for these startups to elevate their status and focus on growth in the rest of Asia and eventually, the world,” says Iggy Pintado, managing director for IDC Australia and New Zealand.

Iggy Pintado

“This is the path that New Zealand fintechs have taken over the years – and have succeeded in.’’

The industry in New Zealand has really come together to drive fintech growth. He says in February, the New Zealand Financial Innovation and Technology Association (FinTech NZ) was launched with support from local incumbents, government agencies, and NZTech (technology industry association).

He says another noteworthy initiative is the Kiwibank FinTech Accelerator, which is co-funded by Callaghan Innovation and Xero and focuses on supporting and expanding Kiwi startups globally using Creative HQ’s Lightning Lab acceleration program.

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Entrepreneurs John and Michael Chow announce plans to invest over $100 million in the information technology sector by 2020.

“Seven years ago we invested $3 million into an offshore IT startup business as a punt and lost the lot,” says John Chow. “But we learned from that loss and we are smarter for it. We were actually before our time. But we know now that the time is now right to invest in smart technology in certain market areas.”

John Chow uses his Inno Capital finance company as an example of a sector which can grow rapidly with smart technology. “We are already a fast-growing lender but to grow at the pace we have targeted, we need world-leading technology, so we are on the hunt and have already had some high-level meetings with industry leaders”.

He shares some lessons learned from their technology investments:

“First and foremost, it is imperative to have the willingness, tenacity and persistence to outwork and outlearn everyone when it comes to your Industry,” he says.

“Mistakes are a natural part of growth, especially in an industry such as tech, so it is vital to make your mistakes early, learn from them and most importantly, never repeat them.

“Being bold enough to take risks is crucial to be truly successful in disrupting an industry. Being disruptive is a hard feat to achieve, but ultimately when successful, the mark you make on the industry is much larger.”

Fonterrasays Marc Rivers will join the dairy co-operative as chief financial officer effective March 2018.

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Rivers is currently the CFO at Roche Pharmaceuticals Division in Switzerland, with oversight of NZ$51 billion in sales including 14 manufacturing sites around the world. His division of Roche is responsible for product distribution for 140 countries, focusing on the innovation pipeline and customer and market development.

“Marc will be a great addition to the Fonterra management team,” says Fonterra CEO, Theo Spierings, in a statement. “His track record of global financial leadership and his personal alignment to our Fonterra values will be a real asset to us.”

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