Letter from NZAL Chair, Mai Chen

Get To Know The NZAL Membership, And More

An evening with Hon. Iain Lees-Gallaoway

Thursday evening saw NZAL members and supporters share their insights with the Hon. Iain Lees-Gallaoway on the government’s workplace health and safety relations. Hosted by NZAL corporate member, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, the session also included four NZAL members, Mikee Santos, Chairperson, Migrante Aotearoa, Jacob Mani Mannothra, Director, Zindia Ltd, Jenny Lim, ActivAsian Lead, Harbour Sport and Jade Leung, Project Consultant, Vector Limited, sharing their own perspectives from within their business, with the session facilitated by NZAL Chair and founder, Mai Chen. The Minister said he appreciated hearing from top Asian leaders about health and safety issues from their perspective and on behalf of their communities.

Discussing the Government’s Health and Safety Strategy, and the broader work in the Workplace Relations portfolio, the Hon. Iain Lees-Gallaoway’s address

focused on the various communities in Auckland and the different perspectives and attitude towards health and safety. He touched upon the government embarking on a health and safety strategy that sets out goals and priorities to drive sustained, system-wide improvements to NZ’s work related health, injury and fatality rates, including NZ’s ethnic workers.

This was followed by  NZAL members, Mikee Santos, Chairperson, Migrante Aotearoa, Jacob Mani Mannothra, Director, Zindia Ltd, Jenny Lim, ActivAsian Lead, Harbour Sport and Jade Leung, Project Consultant, Vector Limited speaking about health and safety issues in different industries that they work in, along with the health and safety measurements.

The session was closed by Sameer Handa, Deputy Chair, NZ Asian Leaders and Managing Director, Glowbal NZ.

Mikee Santos, Chairperson, Migrante Aotearoa highlighted his story and the working conditions of various Filipino workers in New Zealand. Migrante Aotearoa is the a grass-root, non-profit organisation that advances the rights and welfare of Filipinos and other Migrants in New Zealand.

A Malaysian-born Kiwi whose career in sport and recreation started when she was 16, Jenny Lim is the ActiveAsian Lead at Harbour Sports. With an aim to increase Asian participation in sports, Jenny touched upon a few initiatives and programmes created to observe health and safety on and off the sport field.

Jacob Mani Mannothra, Director, Zindia Ltd spoke about the high serious harm and injuries within the forestry sector, best practices observed by his company, and what is the new research, development and innovation needed within the sector to safeguard their working environment.

An HR practitioner, Jade Leung, Project Consultant at Vector Limited spoke about the need for human understanding within organisations and a strategy to create health and safety practices based upon knowledge of different cultures.

Spotlight on Komal Mistry, General Manager, Fonterra Ventures

NZAL member, Komal Mistry, General Manager at Fonterra Ventures and Deloitte Top 200: Young Executive of the Year 2017 has had quite a diverse career journey. A qualified Solicitor and Chartered Accountant, Komal is now leading Fonterra’s Venture division. She started her career with Deloitte in London, post which she moved to Auckland as a Senior Analyst, and has since 2011 been a part of various teams within the Fonterra Cooperative Group.

NZAL Marketing and Communications Manager caught up with Komal a few weeks ago, closely on the heels of Fonterra Ventures strategic partnership announcement with German active nutrition start-up foodspring®. In this rather personal interview, Komal talks about the award-winning Disrupt programme within Fonterra, how the idea of Fonterra Ventures came about on Christmas Eve and how it developed from an idea to a now successful platform for innovation.

Tell us about the Fonterra Disrupt programme and how Fonterra Ventures came about?

It was actually Fonterra CEO, Theo Spierings idea. He had a vision that the world around us was rapidly changing. Consumer preferences were changing – how they engage with products, business models, technology, etc. The idea was to bring that awareness very quickly into the organisation. Fonterra has 22,000 people all over the world, we sell products across 140 markets, the question was how do we create an environment where it doesn’t matter who you are and where you come from, a good idea can come from anywhere. Because the premise is disruption, how do you create an environment or a platform for anyone to be able to come up with an idea and have the ability to bring it to life within the organisation.

I remember we had this conversation on Christmas Eve in 2015. He basically just asked me whether I can bring something like this to life. I went away, assembled two people to support me and said we will pilot it in three markets – Australia, New Zealand and China. It wasn’t something, with my background, that I had ever done before or something that the organisation had done before. So, it was really just about building something that was right for Fonterra so we could achieve the outcomes that we wanted.

We wanted commercial outcomes, in terms of new business models that would lead us into the future. We wanted our people to have the ability to feel included and participate. We wanted the ability for people to learn and we wanted to understand who in the organisation has these types of ideas. It was about talent spotting but doing it in a way that was quite unique and entrepreneurial. So we just learnt along the way. We didn’t get everything right, (but) we got the pilot up and running successfully.

It was at that point that our CEO decided to create Fonterra Ventures, where Disrupt is now one part. We have now taken the model to all our markets and also run a different sort of programme. This year, we launched the Disrupt 10 day challenge, which is a global programme, where we actually pose the biggest business opportunity areas to the staff and they compete to be on the sprint teams to solve them.

What is it that interested you to be a part of the disrupt programme?

For me, I had a strong career in finance and a legal background which I really enjoyed. I started out with Deloitte which was a very financially focused role in London. When I started working with Fonterra, my roles were more commercial finance roles. Over a period of time, I grew a real passion for the commercial side of business rather than just the financial. So, I took up a role to become a technical assistant to the MD of our consumer business at the time, which involved a whole lot of strategic project work, and creating a performance management system of their executive team. This gave me exposure to a whole lot of things and so when an opportunity was posed around developing the Disrupt programme, I did it and I loved it. This evolved into Ventures and I guess the more I delved into this world of innovation and disruption and business models, the more I enjoyed it.

A lesson from this is that you don’t know where your career is going to end up. I couldn’t have told you five years ago, that I would be doing Ventures, but its about being open minded, taking opportunities as they come and turning them into career avenues for yourself.

Did it feel like it’s your baby, did it feel like your business that you are developing?

Absolutely, it’s a big part of my time at Fonterra and a big part of what we do today. It started out as nothing, essentially an idea, and looking at the impact that it’s had on our people, our organisation, culture of our organisation, is something to be proud of. But I didn’t do it alone – there was a great team that built it, and I think when we all look back on it, its kind of a proud moment that you are able to give back to the organisation.

Your views on corporate ventures on a global scale and how does Fonterra Venture fit into it?

Globally, it is becoming more and more prominent that businesses do look at having a corporate venturing unit because it is the premise that innovation can come from anywhere. There is a lot of activity in the start-up ecosystem globally. Last year alone there were about $155 billion funded in corporate VC globally. But in saying that, for Fonterra, it was not around let’s set up Fonterra Ventures. It was around let us start with Disrupt, let us build it and then let us do something and create an operating model for Ventures that is right for Fonterra. Something that helps us accelerate our strategy and that is essentially a lever to help us get to where we want to go faster.

Welcome To Our New Corporate Members – Datacom & Eden Park

20 new leaders join the NZAL membership

The next wave: Change-makers, Entrepreneurs and Superdiverse leaders

NZ Asian Leaders (NZAL) in association with Bank of New Zealand (BNZ), MYOB, NZ China Trade Association (NZCTA), Future Dragonz Wellington (FDW) and NZ China Friendship Society (NZCFS) held its first Wellington event of 2018, a panel discussion on ‘The Next Wave: Change-makers, Entrepreneurs and Superdiverse Leaders’.

The panel discussion pioneered the conversation focusing on entrepreneurship, age and gender diversity and ‘disruptive leadership’ by superdiverse New Zealanders from uniquely Wellington firms and sectors.


#myidentity campaign launched to celebrate diversity: Now join the challenge

A social media campaign, #myidentity, was launched Thursday, March 1, 2018 at SKYCITY Auckland to increase well-being, connection and racial harmony by encouraging New Zealanders to share their stories about their unique identities – be it a race or ethnic origin, a gender, a religion, a sexuality, an (dis) ability, an occupation, etc.

The launch included never seen before videos of Hon Carmel Sepuloni, Minister for Social Development, Disability Issues and Associate Minister for Arts Culture Heritage, and Pacific Peoples; and Hon Julie Anne Genter, Minister for Women, Associate Minister of Health and Transport, talking about their identities. Both Ministers spoke at the campaign launch, which was officially launched by the Governor-General of New Zealand, Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy in front of an audience of 200 attendees.

Over 40 prominent New Zealanders have shared their #myidentity stories including Capt Pete Bethune (Founder of Earthrace Conservation), Dr Hinemoa Elder (tertiary education academic and former television presenter), Ian McInnes (CEO, Tear Fund),Melanie Higgins (Consul-General, US Consulate Auckland), Alison Taylor (CEO, Centre for Social Impact), Diane Maxwell (Retirement Commissioner), Hon James Shaw (Co-Leader of the New Zealand Green Party and Minister for Climate Change, Minister for Statistics and Associate Minister of Finance), Priti Ambani (Co-Founder of The Next Billion), Mele Wendt (Consultant and Board Director), Alexia Hilbertidou(Founder of GirlBoss New Zealand), Rob Hennin (Chief Executive, nib New Zealand),Scott Pickering (Chief Executive, ACC), Ete Eteuati (actor and comedian), Vanisa Dhiru (President, National Council for Women), Riahn Hoani (nib New Zealand) and the Head Girl of Manurewa High School.

We invite you, your family, business, organisation, school etc to accept the Challenge. The website www.myidentitychallenge.com has been set up to allow all New Zealanders to add their stories. Superdiversity Centre for Law, Policy and Business Chair, Mai Chen, said, “This will encourage greater connection and understanding in our families, workplaces, schools, neighbourhoods, schools and hospitals. With the growing diversity in New Zealand and Auckland in particular, it is important to ensure we better understand who we are working with, serving and relating to. We don’t all look the same and we can’t assume we know the other person’s background. A person’s identity affects how they think and act. The campaign should grow economic and social capital in helping us to better understand who we are as New Zealanders.”

NZAL first regional event in Gisborne

Date: March 13, 2018

Theme: The event will focus on matching businesses with investors for farming and infrastructure projects

For more details, please contact the NZAL team.

Sameer Handa

Director, Investor & an experienced Business Leader

Sameer is a Mechanical Engineer by trade with an MBA from Sydney University.  Sameer has extensive experience in management and leadership roles in various countries through several industries. Sameer possesses a good knowledge and understanding of International trade through his work experience in Middle East, Fiji, India, Australia and New Zealand.

Sameer has worked in the refrigeration & air-conditioning industry in NZ for the past 22 years. In his last role Sameer was the MD for Beijer Ref AustralAsia. In this role Sameer’s responsibilities included managing six businesses in four countries; Patton & Realcold businesses in NZ, Patton Refrigeration in India, Patton Aero in Thailand and merger of Patton Australia and Realcold Australia into Beijer Ref Australia. This included 40 trade outlets, 6 factories and 300 staff in 4 countries. Currently, Sameer still holds board positions in Patton NZ Ltd, Realcold NZ Ltd & Patton Refrigeration India Pvt Ltd.

Sameer is an executive member of India New Zealand Business Council (INZBC), on the advisory board of New Zealand Asian Leaders (NZAL), CMInstD, Chartered Member, Institute of Directors NZ since 2009 and also on the board of Bank of India (New Zealand) Limited & Refrigerant Recovery NZ Limited

Highlights from an exclusive breakfast session with Hon. Stuart Nash

NZ Asian Leaders along with Chen Palmer Partners, SUPERdiverse WOMEN (SDW) and the Superdiversity Centre hosted the Hon Stuart Nash for an exclusive breakfast event for its members, clients and sponsors at Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ).

Speaking about his four portfolios, the Minister fielded lots of questions, particularly about his Police, Revenue and Small Businesses portfolio. He spoke about the high number of migrant business owners, the need to restart the Small Business Advisory Group, the recruitment drive for top quality police officers from diverse backgrounds to reflect the communities they would serve in, and the reforms he will be overseeing in tax and in fisheries.

Hosted  by NZAL Corporate member, CAANZ, in attendance were NZAL, SDW members and supporters and sponsors. Hon Stuart Nash spoke about NZ’s diversity and  superdiversity as a source of strength and how it brings new skills, insights and opportunities to NZ. He spoke about his political philosophy – equality of opportunity and the importance of retaining connections to one’s culture.

Spotlight on Nikhil Ravishankar, Chief Digital Officer, Vector

NZAL Established member, Nikhil Ravishankar spoke to NZAL’s Priti Garude, Marketing and Communications Manager on his journey to NZ, his diverse bunch of friends, on being a “failed entrepreneur” and how he learnt of his own unconscious bias while leading a team of 100.

Your journey

My parents moved to New Zealand in 1996. I finished my high school here and then studied at the University of Auckland. As a new immigrant, I worked almost from the day I arrived. I worked multiple, odd jobs all the way through university. Back then, it was quite a challenge as a new immigrant family, we all had to do our bit and that is an important part of my story.

It has been quite instrumental in establishing and shaping my work ethic.

Transition and life in NZ as a new migrant 

To be honest, I had a nightmare start. We moved here in winter and it wasn’t the weather that was tough on me. As a teenager leaving all your friends behind and coming to a new place was quite difficult. I went to an all-boys school, which is quite an unforgiving environment. So, I went from being the cool kid to an outsider – someone who dressed funny, sounded funny, it was a hard time. But when I look back, I believe that experience also developed my resilience.

It was really when I started playing sports that I was accepted and started to make friendships that have endured over the years. In NZ, sport is such a big thing, and it was sports that helped me integrate in to the NZ culture. My friend-set has always been a diverse bunch, a collection of “outsiders”, with a few people from NZ who found that diversity very interesting.

First entrepreneurial venture, MobileLife

Mobile Life was launched during my University days.  My peers and I were always very interested in what was happening with the internet, always testing the boundaries of services that could be delivered online. At that time, mobile was starting to grow its foot hold. We started thinking about the power of mobility and internet, and from that, an idea of mobile as a virtual broadcasting center, was born. It was built out of interest in the limits of digital disruption and that every human being has the technology to become their own broadcaster.

We had a great time building the company, received support from NZTE, gained capital from other investors, 6 to 8 people working full time or almost full time. And we did okay, but we were a bit too early to the game.

Mobile data rates were too high and people would literally challenge us in sessions and question us such as “What do you mean people would watch videos on their handset? It’s too small, no way would people do that, there is no network that can manage it, or would allow for it”. They made us look and feel like idiots!

What it takes to be an entrepreneur

I’m a failed entrepreneur. I attempted to start my own business, ran it for a few years but it sort of frizzled out. It was a very humbling experience. Though we were right about the way people’s lives would change because of these disruptive technologies, like mobility in that instance and access to the internet, video technology and so on, our timing was not quite right.

It was a combination of timing, the environment that we were in but also more importantly the 3 of us weren’t very commercial guys. We were literally the cliché start-up guys and we didn’t surround ourselves with people who were commercial. You don’t know what you don’t know.

So complimenting the team with people who bring stuff that you don’t bring, is a very big message of diversity. Recognizing that not everyone needs to look like you, or talk like you or more importantly bring the same skills that you bring to the table, as obvious as it sounds. We were too young and too naïve to recognize the value of that.

In the cold light of the day, it was the best experience that you could hope for, because it taught me some very valuable lessons but it’s still too raw to say that it was learning experience. A lot of blood, sweat and tears went in to it, so I still feel like mourning it.

It is easy to start, but you need to be very focused and disciplined and to an extent brave, to stop things that aren’t going to deliver the results. I had a boss who kept saying that your most accelerated learning happens when you go through failures. In the digital start-up game, timing is a very precious ingredient. Sometimes its easy to let your ego get the better of you, but the timing needs to be right. Failing is not a bad thing and learning from your failings is the best thing you can do. I never run away from talking about MobileLife, I’m very proud of it actually.

Entrepreneurship in NZ

The NZ in early 2000, was nowhere near entrepreneur friendly as it is today. Even today, it is light years behind some of the more leading cities in the world – like Silicon Valley, San Jose, San Francisco, Israel, in terms of support network around entrepreneurship – places where they really embrace innovation. We talk about it a lot but we’re not quite there yet. But we are a lot better than we were in the 2000.

Experience of leading a diverse team

Coming from NZ, representing minority myself, I was expecting that going into a more diverse organization like Accenture will be easy. But I hadn’t paid attention to my own bias, preference which had developed obviously growing up in Auckland. Ironically, I struggled with it.

My biases and preferences were not bad, they were just different. I thought I would have to work less than any body else, around working with other cultures and diversity, because I’m an Indian from NZ. In my mind, I was the poster child for diversity but in fact I was the opposite. So, when I was in Hong Kong, I led a team of about 100 from Bangalore and a couple of months down the line, I was struggling to motivate them.

If you want to make diversity work for you, there are a lot of things personally that you need to do, to understand what it really means, it does not happen automatically. Working with mainland Chinese versus the Hong Kong team versus working with the Australians or the Americans, it is easy to put people into boxes but you have to be fully open minded and work at it to start leveraging its power. Some of the most close minded thinking I’ve seen is from people who come from similar backgrounds.

Since then I’ve never thought of myself as being in tune with diversity and its power – I’m just like everybody else and I have my own biases, shortcomings and I just need to work at it.

Diversity in business and its advantages

 The highest order of topic in diversity should be diversity of ideas and how it creates genuine new value. Everything else is just a means to an end. Be it gender diversity, ethnic, religious, sexual preference, or any other form of diversity – at the end of the day, all of that is secondary to diversity of ideas. Staying within your comfort zone with the type of people you like to interact with or you identify yourself with, is just restraining yourself from getting access to those diversity of ideas.

Message to young leaders

There is some incredibly powerful technology that is very egalitarian in the way it impacts society. Technology isn’t racist, technology isn’t biased, technology has the power in being an equalizing force. Over the next 3 to 5 years, there will be some incredible technology that is going to impact over lives in more ways than we can imagine – machine learning, robotics, AI, big data analytics, VR, AR, Internet of Things. These things will have an impact on every part of life and if I was a young person coming through the ranks today, I would be really focused on understanding what those technologies were and the possibilities that it can bring. Both in isolation but really the magic happens when they combine together – the multiplicative effort of all these technologies that I think no one is immune to.

On a personal front, I think there are very few places around the world that are as accepting of new ideas as New Zealand and specifically Auckland. But we can not get complacent and need to work harder to ensure that Auckland remains that way – and that for me is one of the attractions of being a part of NZ Asian Leaders.

We should not think of breaking down barriers as a chore but really look at it as a privilege. Apathy is the most dangerous thing in all of this. To think that a certain person is racist, and hence you are going to give up on them and move on, it’s the point at which you’ve rolled over and died. It’s not a chore at all, once you break down that barrier, that’s where lies real value.

As spoken to Priti Garude, Marketing and Communications Manager, NZ Asian Leaders