HOMEGROWN Conference: Speakers

View the Homegrown Conference programme.

The speakers at the HOMEGROWN conference are:

Hon James Shaw – Minister for Climate Change and Green Party Co-Leader

James was appointed Green Party Co-leader in 2015, after being elected to Parliament as a list MP in 2014. Prior to becoming an MP, James had a successful career in management consulting, primarily in London, where he lived from 1998 to 2010. While there, he worked with large, multinational companies across Europe and around the world, developing their sustainable business practices.

It was while James was in the UK, studying for a Master’s degree in sustainable development and business leadership, that he realised the private sector alone wasn’t able to affect change at the speed and scale necessary to meet the great challenges of our time. With that realisation also came a call to action, and James moved back to Wellington, with the aim of being elected to Parliament.

When he’s not living and breathing sustainable economics, James enjoys spending time in his local community, Aro Valley, with his wife Annabel.

Alison Howard – Head of Sustainability, Meridian Energy

Alison Howard has a wide range of knowledge and experience in how business can create value from sustainability. After four years at Deloitte advising a range of businesses on strategy, reporting, climate change and more, she has returned to her roots at Meridian, where she started out designing wind farms.

Alison’s passion for sustainability has only grown since becoming a mother of small children. She is working hard to ensure that businesses are inspired by Meridian to lead the change New Zealand needs for a sustainable future.

Andrew Fisher – Founder & Managing Director, EcoStock Supplies

Andrew has made significant impact on the waste minimisation sector and circular economy in the past 11 years running EcoStock Supplies.  In 2017, he was a finalist in the Sustainability Superstar category of the NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards. Prior to this, in 2013 he was joint winner of the Auckland University $1m Entrepreneurs Challenge and in 2011 was Supreme Award winner at the Ministry for Environment’s Green Ribbon Awards.

Andrew’s previous experience as a New Zealand Army Engineer Officer (1993-2000) and NZ Special Air Service Officer (2000-2004) saw him commanding deployments in countries including Australia, UK, Falkland Islands, East Timor, Solomon Islands and Afghanistan.

Outside work he is an active member of the community, and a Scout Leader in support of both his son and daughter’s growing adventures.

Barbara Nebel – CEO, thinkstep Australasia

For the best part of 20 years Barbara has worked with companies, associations and government departments in Australia, New Zealand, Asia and Europe to implement strategies and systems, effectively linking sustainability actions back to tangible business value.

Barbara is CEO of thinkstep Australasia. thinkstep develops strategies, roadmaps and projects, and implements leading software solutions. She gives regular webinars and workshops on the circular economy, the UN Sustainable Development Goals and life cycle thinking.

Barbara is also President of the Life Cycle Association New Zealand and serves on several technical advisory groups. She is a reviewer and associate editor for a number of journals, including the Journal of Industrial Ecology, International Journal of LCA and New Zealand Journal of Forestry Science.

Bianca Cook – Turn the Tide on Plastic

Bianca grew up cruising and racing in the Waitematā, where a love and desire for sailing eventually saw her on board ‘Turn the Tide On Plastic’ in the Volvo Ocean Race – a competitive nine-month race sailing around the world. Bianca is a crew member (running the pit), and at the tender age of 28, is pushing her body and mind to the extremes to sail to the furthest points of the earth.

Turn the Tide on Plastic is a mixed, youth focused team with a strong sustainability message. The campaign, backed by the Mirpuri Foundation and Ocean Family Foundation, is dedicated to the issue of ocean health and raising awareness of ocean pollution.

Deborah Manning – Founder and CEO, KiwiHarvest

Deborah is a lawyer, physiotherapist and social entrepreneur. She brought the food rescue concept to life in Dunedin in 2012 and then expanded KiwiHarvest into Auckland, North Shore, Hawkes Bay and Queenstown. KiwiHarvest’s mission is to source excess nutritious food and distribute it to community organisations that feed those in need. It protects the environment by stopping surplus food from being discarded and the valuable resources used to create it from being wasted.

Deborah is also an invited lecturer at the University of Otago, a mentor for Ignite Consulting and chapter author in the publication ‘Sustainable Food for the Globe’.


Jacinta Gulasekharam – Co-Founder, Dignity

Jacinta is a passionate entrepreneur ready to embrace the future of work through skills in sales, entrepreneurship, event management, public speaking, and time management.

She has a strong belief in female empowerment, shown through the founding of social enterprise Dignity for working women and schools girls in need. Dignity provides free access to sanitary items through a ‘buy one give one’ model. Jacinta is also the business development manager of new recruitment software Invoxy.

Glen Herud – Founder, Happy Cow Milk Co.

Glen Herud grew up alongside dairy farming parents and studied agriculture at Lincoln University before leaving the industry in 2004. He spent 11 years running a retail business, and during this time realised that the dairy industry would benefit by adapting to meet people’s changing demands.

This led Glen to found the Happy Cow Milk Company. The focus is enabling local farmers to supply local markets with milk produced to exceptionally high levels of animal welfare and environmental sustainability. Happy Cow Milk Company pioneered a mobile milking system and on board milk processing facilities.

It hasn’t been plane sailing though, and Glen was forced to close the business earlier in the year. With the support of a dedicated crowd, Happy Cow is taking the lessons learned from the first business and rebuilding a system designed to democratise the milk processing industry.

Livia Esterhazy – CEO, WWF-New Zealand

Livia Esterhazy joined WWF-New Zealand in May 2017 as Chief Executive Officer. Coming from a corporate background, she reached a point where she wanted to apply her commercial expertise to make a positive contribution to the wider social good. She is hugely passionate about sustainability, environmental matters and creating real impact.

Prior to WWF, Livia was Managing Director of Clemenger BBDO, where she successfully led the modernisation of the Wellington-based business. Livia has also worked with Assignment Group and Saatchi & Saatchi.

Livia is married with five children who keep her very active. When she has time to relax, you’ll find her outdoors: kayaking, tramping or riding her new electric mountain bike around the hills of Wellington.

Ngarimu Blair – Trust Representative Director, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei

Named the Inaugural Emerging Māori Business Leader by the Auckland University’s Business School, Ngarimu is the Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Trust representative for Whai Rawa. He was described by the University as having a “strong vision, humility, and inclusive management and governance skills”.

A geographer, with over 15 years’ experience in advancing a range of iwi issues in Auckland City, he is regularly called upon by the media and political influencers.

Ngarimu is also on the Board of the 11th National Science Challenge and North Harbour Rugby Union.


The Loop Crew

The Loop Crew is comprised of the Sturrocks – Campbell, Nikki, Bracken, Breeze and Reef – a Kiwi family on the trip of a lifetime around New Zealand in a house bus. Their adventure is a real life experiment in building a motorhome using sustainability principles – considering people and the planet as well as costs in the choices they make. They also put these principles into action in their everyday lives on the road. They want to ‘do good’ and shine some light on other people and organisations ‘doing good’ for nature and communities as they travel. They call this leaving it better than you find it.

Campbell has recently taken up a post as National Environment and Sustainability Manager at Fletcher Infrastructure, and is navigating the balance between individual values and how that translates into making business move.

Rachel headnshoulder 2014



Rachel Brown ONZM – CEO, Sustainable Business Network 

As founder and CEO of the Sustainable Business Network Rachel has played a critical role in advancing the value of sustainability for the past decade. The network includes over 500 members and represents a range of organisation sizes and sectors. SBN runs the largest national sustainable business awards programme in the country.

As a regular presenter, collaborator and driver of action within NZ communities, Rachel is committed to the role business plays in supercharging and transforming NZ’s economy into one that is smarter and more sustainable.

In 2009 Rachel was one of 15 New Zealanders to be trained by Al Gore to present The Inconvenient Truth and joined an elite group of international presenters to be part of the Climate Reality Project broadcast.

In 2018 she was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit for years of service to sustainable business.

Please note the line-up of speakers is subject to change