The following inspiring speakers shared their ideas and insights at Project NZ: #theBIGshift, which took place on 17-18 September at AUT University, Auckland.



Stephanie Draper – Keynote speaker 

Stephanie Draper is Deputy CEO & Executive Director Asia, Forum for the Future. She is the creator of ‘The Big Shift’ tools used globally by businesses including Nike, Unilever and Akzo Nobel. Stephanie is co-founder and Chair of the Sustainable Shipping Initiative, a trustee of the Travel Foundation and a member of the Firmenich Sustainability Board.


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Bernard Hickey – MC & Moderator

Bernard Hickey is an independent financial and economic commentator with over 25 years’ experience as a journalist, editor and publisher for Reuters, the FT Group, Fairfax Media and Interest.co.nz. He is also the Wellington-based publisher of Hive News and regularly commentates on economic and financial issues. 

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Rachel Brown – Host and Speaker

Rachel Brown is founder and CEO of the Sustainable Business Network (SBN). She is passionate about the role business plays in transforming New Zealand’s economy to a sustainable one. She firmly believes leadership has to come from business – the engine of change for the better. 


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Derek Handley – Speaker and Panellist

Derek Handley was the Founding CEO and is now Entrepreneur in Residence at the B Team. He is designing and leading a new venture that models the B Team vision of people, planet and profit. Derek is also an Adjunct Executive Professor at AUT University, Chair and Co-Founder of NZX-listed Snakk Media, a Director at Sky Television and a New Zealand Arts Foundation Trustee.

Alex Hannant

Alex Hannant – Speaker and Panellist

Alex Hannant is Chief Executive, the Ākina Foundation – an independent charity focused on the support and development of social enterprise. Alex aims to accelerate the transition to a sustainable, prosperous, and inclusive New Zealand through the development of talent, partnerships, and social enterprise.


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Ngarimu Blair – Speaker and Panellist

Ngarimu Blair is Director of Nga Tira Ltd. He is a spokesperson and Treaty settlement negotiator for Ngati Whatua, a Trustee and Deputy Chair on the Ngati Whatua Orakei Trust, a Director of Ngati Whatua Orakei Whai Rawa Ltd, and a Director of Waterfront Auckland. Ngarimu is also a geographer, established the ecological restoration project at Bastion Point, and has instigated art and urban design projects highlighting Auckland’s Maori history. He has lectured at Auckland University and AUT on Auckland Maori history, media, Maori development and planning.

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Rowan Yeoman – Speaker

Rowan Yeoman is Venture Manager at Akina Foundation, specialising in business model design and innovation. As a founding member of Startup Weekend New Zealand he established the Startup Weekend programme throughout New Zealand, and he supports events around the world as the Startup Weekend Global Facilitator. Rowan is a startup investor, advisor and mentor, having worked with numerous startup ventures in New Zealand and in the USA. 

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Billy Matheson – Speaker

Billy Matheson is Principal Advisor – Social Entrepreneurship at Auckland Council, with a background in design, facilitation and tertiary education. In 2009 he founded the ReGeneration youth leadership initiative. Billy is committed to New Zealand having an important role in the global transition to a more just, more sustainable, and more creative future. 


Gael Surgenor – Speaker and Panellist

Gael Surgenor is acting General Manager of the Southern Initiative at Auckland Council. She has led innovative initiatives on Youth Employment and has built the capability of the community development team to be social innovators. Gael has a background in central government, leading social innovations/social change initiatives on complex problems including the Family Violence “It’s not Ok Campaign.” She has worked collaboratively with business and philanthropy and attended the Sir Stephen Tindall-backed social enterprise fellowship. She has also studied social and public sector innovation during a Leadership Development Fellowship in Canada and the UK. 

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Jacqueline Ireland – Speaker

Jacqueline Ireland is CEO of Colmar Brunton, part of the global Millward Brown group of companies. She has a postgraduate degree in Marketing and over two decades of marketing and research consultancy experience. Jacqueline has a real passion for helping clients make great decisions based on the best possible data and analytics. She believes in the power of corporate purpose, and its ability to build great and sustainable organisations that unite stakeholder groups across territories and cultures. Jacqueline is a board member of Colmar Brunton and the Sustainable Business Network and consults to clients in the airlines, telecommunications, banking, government and business to business sectors.


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James Griffin – Speaker 

James Griffin is the Network General Manager and a Transformation Leader at the Sustainable Business Network. He has extensive commercial experience having worked in large corporates and owned his own business. His business sustainability journey started many years ago via the coffee industry where he was involved in Fair Trade. 

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Matt Ayers – Speaker

Matt Ayers leads the Renewables Transformation Area at the Sustainable Business Network, focused on the national Smart Transport work stream. With a background in design, he also works across the development of our services and design capacity of SBN. Matt has experience using Design Methods to create new business ventures, and is intrigued by the mechanics of how businesses reinvent themselves.

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Julia Jackson – Speaker

Julia Jackson is a Transformation Leader at the Sustainable Business Network. She has a background in sustainable tourism, focusing on capacity building in communities, through enterprise and education. Julia has been involved in delivering the Community Footprint tool with leading New Zealand companies looking at how all organisations can embed social values into their businesses. 


Emily Dowding-Smith – Speaker

Emily Dowding-Smith leads the Restorative Transformation Area at the Sustainable Business Network, currently focused on food systems. She is a resource management and environment lawyer and environmental scientist. Her Masters thesis was undertaken in Cuba, on the resilience of city gardens. In Germany she drafted the curriculum for the Young Masters Programme on Sustainability, and worked for ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability). She also convened the 3rd and 4th Resilient Cities conferences and in 2013 created the Resilient Urban Food Systems Forum. 

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Robb Donze – Speaker and Panellist

Robb Donzé is Managing Director of INZIDE Commercial, a market leader in carpets, with sustainability at its core. Robb largely accredits INZIDE Commercial’s success to working within nature’s constraints, with sustainability being an integral part of the company’s decision making. He is member of a number of business groups including SBN and Cornet, and a Past President of the Retail Interiors Association.

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Dr Barbara Nebel – Speaker

Barbara is Managing Director of PE International (Australasia), a sustainability software and consulting company. She has worked with industry for more than 15 years, applying life cycle approaches to reduce the environmental impacts of products and services in Europe and New Zealand. Barbara is currently representing New Zealand interests in the development of international guideline for carbon footprinting for products and services, livestock and international transport. 

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Manda Judd – Speaker

Manda is the founder of Lovenotes. Her experience working with community organisations and businesses led to her bring about an enterprise and lifestyle that encompasses the best of both worlds. Manda’s consistency has been questioning why, and ensuring our communities, planet, people, and bank accounts, are equally at heart.

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Reza Fuard – Speaker

Reza is Design Director at Lovenotes, a company that turns workplace waste paper into remarkable stationery. His background in marketing and UX design helps to ensure that the Lovenotes service generates thriving workplaces, minimises environmental impacts, and is economically rewarding for both parties.


Dr Sudhvir Singh – Speaker

Dr Sudhvir Singh leads Generation Zero, campaigning for better transport, urban design and climate change policy. He served as President of UN Youth in Auckland and was part of the New Zealand Government delegation to Rio+20. Sudhvir works as a Medical Registrar at Auckland Hospital, chairs the Doctors-in-Training Council of the New Zealand Medical Association and was nominated by New Zealand Herald as ‘New Zealander of the Year’ in 2013.

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Mike Bennetts – Speaker and Panellist

Mike is the CEO of Z Energy. He joined Z in 2010 after a 25 year career with BP. His last role with BP was as CEO of BP’s Eastern Hemisphere supply and trading business, whose markets included Asia Pacific, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa. Mike has previously been a director of companies and joint ventures in South Africa, Singapore and China. 

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Nick Astwick – Speaker and Panellist

Nick Astwick is Chief Operating Officer of Kiwibank, ensuring it is on target to meet its business objectives and strategy. He has guided Kiwibank to being recognised as a New Zealand big bank, while still retaining its challenger culture and unique brand.  Nick has 19 years’ experience in financial services and leadership and is actively involved in governance on a number of Boards. 

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Vivien Maidaborn – Speaker

Vivien Maidaborn is Co-founder of Loomio Cooperative, an online group collaboration tool, used in more than 30 countries. She has held general manager and CEO roles in public and community sectors, including CEO of CCS Disability Action, and founder of Lifetime Design. She is now totally immersed in social enterprise, creating social technology to enable change.

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Pete Russell – Speaker

Pete Russell is the founder of Ooooby, a local food home delivery business. Ooooby creates a super-lean supply chain, making local and artisan food as convenient and affordable as industrial food alternatives. He is a passionate food entrepreneur with more than 10 years’ experience running food enterprises across manufacturing, wholesale, distribution and retail. 

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Rachel Taulelei – Speaker and Panellist

Rachel Taulelei is the founder of Yellow Brick Road, which sources a sustainable supply of responsibly-caught, fresh, premium seafood. The hallmark of her company is commitment to values-based business, focusing on resource sustainability. Rachel is a member of Westpac’s External Sustainable Business Panel, chair of the Wellington Culinary Events Trust and she co-founded the capital’s City Market.  She’s a director of Grow Wellington and the Wellington Regional Stadium Trust. In 2012 Rachel received a Blake Leader Award and in 2013 she was a finalist in the Women of Influence Awards.