Check out 2020's awesome line up of speakers

Tech and Data for Sustainable Cities and Communities

Adam Beck, Executive Director - Smart Cities Council Australia New Zealand

Adam is Founding Executive Director of Smart Cities Council Australia New Zealand, an organisation dedicated to accelerating sustainability outcomes in cities and towns through the adoption of technology, data and intelligent design. In this role, Adam works with its member companies to help build a comprehensive smart cities policy framework for the region, accelerate the pipeline of smart cities investments, and build capacity within the marketplace.

Chelsey Stewart, Smart Hamilton Programme Manager - Hamilton City Council

All over the world local authorities are seeking to develop their cities into 'smart cities'. Hamilton City Council is going a step further and working to build a 'smart society'. Smart Hamilton is about encouraging a mindset that challenges the status quo and supports innovation that improves the well-being of the community, enables better decision-making and responds effectively to our greatest challenges.

Mike Manson, CEO - Association for Local Government Information Management

Mike is both the CEO of ALGIM, and Business Development Executive for the Palmerston North City Council and has a passion for Local Government.   He has served in numerous roles spanning a 32 year career in Local Government, from IT Management to Customer Services Manager as well as serving six years as President of ALGIM.  This role saw him deliver addresses to international audiences from New York to London.

Catherine Caruana-McManus, Co-Founder & Director - Meshed IoT

For 25 years, Catherine has been intimately involved in launching new technology ventures for the cities, telecommunications, spatial and infrastructure sectors. As a global leader in smart sustainable cities and digital transformation, Catherine has been awarded prestigious industry awards as an IoT Ambassador and Smart Cities Industry Leader. 

Prior to Meshed, Catherine was the Director of IBM’s Smarter Cities and Director IoT Utilities for KPMG. Catherine is also a Board Member of the IoT Alliance Australia.

Matthew Szymczak, Senior Lead Smart City - City of Geelong

As a digital innovation leader with over 20 years’ experience in leveraging emerging technologies combined with skills in agile, design thinking and human centred design, Matthew has helped to drive organisational digital transformation, performance, profitability and customer satisfaction.

Now as Senior Lead for Smart City and member of the senior leadership team he is responsible for ensuring the delivery of both strategic and operational aspects of the Geelong Smart City program and initiatives.

Sean Audain, City Innovation Lead - Wellington City Council

Sean focuses on Smart Cities and using partnerships to deliver solutions to the citizens of Wellington. With a background in urban planning, Sean leads the development of Wellington’s smart city, exploring how Open Data, the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Data Visualisation, GIS and Virtual Reality can help Council understand the city, better talk with citizens and make better decisions. 

Sean’s work has been recognised with a number of awards and continues to help Wellington lead in a range of fields from Urban Planning to Civil Defence.

Mark Dyer, Project Director - Urban Narrative & Dean of Engineering - The University of Waikato

Mark Dyer spent the first nineteen years of his professional career working on construction projects in Europe, USA, Asia and Africa. Most recently his professional experience in the design of urban infrastructures has seen his academic work focus on the role of citizen participation for the adoption of new technologies and decision making for transformation of cities to healthier, more inclusive and energy efficient places.

Jocelyn Cranefield, Researcher and Advisor - Victoria University of Wellington

Jocelyn's research centres around how rapidly-emerging trends in IT and its use is impacting on individuals, organizations and society; and the implications of this for decision-making and strategy. Recent work includes a study of leadership practice in smart cities, exploring how smart city strategies evolve, and the use of AI-based systems by knowledge workers.  Jocelyn is a regular presenter at international conferences, and has authored many peer-reviewed publications.  

Sarah Deveau, Infrastructure Support Officer - Manawatu District Council

Sarah is an expat who has spent the last five years travelling the world and has now settled in New Zealand.  She’s new to Local Government, but loving every minute of it.  Infrastructure is a dynamic area to be involved in particularly with so much growth happening in the Manawatu.

Last year Sarah was nominated for the MW LASS Future Leaders programme.  Her team researched the world of Big Data and how it will impact Local Government.  

Helen Grant, Principal Advisor Citizen Value and Engagement - Auckland Council

Mother of two sons, social scientist, community development and community engagement practitioner.  Helen is passionate about participatory democracy, open government, and the ways in which cities around the world are leveraging the expertise of citizens and communities in decision-making, citizen science, and the design and delivery of policies, initiatives and solutions to our challenges both local and global.  Helen believes in a city the size of Auckland, technology is a key connector and enabler towards bringing about this shift. 

MC - Ryan "The Lion" Ashton

Ryan Ashton is no stranger to technology, having grown up through the tech industry from Commodore 64's as a child through to a career of 20 years in the Technology sector including Sales, Marketing and Product Management with leading local and international Technology companies, Ryan is a communicator, a translator of tech to business.

Founder of A Few Quiet Yarns, the no-selling technology focused networking event connecting the tech community for 12 years, Ryan is a connector of people and will connect you to the tech and the people of Tech Fest being a catalyst for conversations of collaboration.

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Inspire - Innovate - Grow - Connect

Richard Riley, Chief Operating Officer - UltraFast Fibre

With a growth and innovation leadership profile transferable across sector, Richard has over 20 years in senior leadership driving a range of commercial, programme, customer, strategy, sales and marketing disciplines. 

Richard is a fibre network business specialist committed to unleashing the full pioneering potential social, economic and business benefits of fibre-propelled technologies.

Vic Crone, CEO - Callaghan Innovation

Vic is currently Chief Executive of Callaghan Innovation, New Zealand’s innovation agency. She is an experienced executive and director over a variety of private, social, and not for profit enterprises in the energy, cyber security, start up, communications, technology and innovation sectors.

Vic is passionate about making a difference to NZ Inc, and passionate about how technology and innovation can be used to advance New Zealand on the world stage.

Eli Smit, Entrepreneur

A budding entrepreneur with a passion for business and social impact, Eli started his first two businesses at the age of 9 and now almost 11 he is kicking off season 4 of his podcast exploring the stories behind the next generation of business leaders and innovators. "It is one thing to talk about entrepreneurship on my podcast however it’s another to be an entrepreneur and get some customers across the line. My mowing business Get Mowed has kept me busy and taught me heaps about the real world of business."

Mariana van der Walt, Managing Director - New Zealand Institute for Rural Entrepreneurship

The recently established NZ Institute for Rural Entrepreneurship develops small town entrepreneurship, focusing both on individual businesses and group entrepreneurship where small towns own and shape their own future through entrepreneurial mindsets and practices. 

Prior to the Institute, Mariana was instrumental in establishing Impact Hub Waikato and the first Design Factory in NZ.

Greg Johnston, CEO - Manta5

Greg is a driven entrepreneur who’s passionate about high-growth start-up ventures and innovative social enterprises.  Currently the CEO of Manta5, Greg is working alongside the original orpedo7 founders to take the Manta5 Hydrofoil Bike to the world and transform the cycling industry.

Eric Chuah, Founder and CEO - The Cookie Project

Eric was born in Malaysia and had a track record in expat banking career until 2017 when he decided to leave the corporate world and pursue his passion in business with purpose that ended up in meeting his co-founder Graeme for The Cookie Project – a social enterprise that employs Kiwis with disabilities to make delicious cookies. In just 18 months, The Cookie Project now employs over 30 bakers, received 12 awards, has being studied by 3 universities, and was visited by the PM.

Diana Sharma, Mission Director - Mission Ready

As a strategic visionary with a relentless focus on the future of work and its impact on developing the next workforce Diana co-founded Mission Ready, an innovative for-purpose enterprise bridging the skills to employment gap in the tech sector through its unique tech career accelerators.   

Diana is also a passionate advocate of ethical technology and making education accessible, affordable and relevant. 

John Edwards, Privacy Commissioner

John was appointed to the independent statutory position of Privacy Commissioner in February 2014. He is currently serving his second five year term.  He provides independent comment on significant personal information policies and issues. Prior to his appointment, John practiced law in Wellington for over 20 years specialising in information law while representing a wide range of public and private sector clients. 

Juliet Ansell, Innovation Manager - Zespri International

Juliet joined Zespri in July 2014 and now oversees research platforms across the value chain. Prior to her role at Zespri, Juliet was an academic research scientist for 20 years and has a B.Sc from Kings College London and a doctorate from Oxford University, both in human parasitology. During her 9 years at Plant & Food Research NZ, she led major research programmes with government and industry support involving in vitro, in vivo and human clinical trial work. 

Peter Nation, CEO - NZ National Fieldays Society Inc.

Having devoted his entire life to supporting rural New Zealand, Peter believes that without the agribusiness sector, New Zealand would not be held in the high regard it is now, on the world stage. The agribusiness sector is well known for its innovation, supply of world-class food and world-renowned leadership. Peter also believes strongly that without collaboration within the industry, innovation and continuous improvement would be seriously compromised. 

Jason Herbert, Business Development Manager - Mint Innovation

Fifty million tonnes of computers, mobile phones and other electronics will be disposed of around the world this year, most of which will end up in landfill. Not only is this destructive to the environment, but it wastes valuable metals such as gold, copper and rare earths. 

Hear about Mint Innovation's novel process to make e-waste become a source of value.

Ian Musson, Business Manager - Maori Economy - Callaghan Innovation

Ian Musson was the inaugural Programme Director for Kōkiri, Aotearoa’s first business accelerator dedicated to speeding up the development of Māori-led start-ups. With a passion for supporting Māori and other indigenous peoples globally, Ian sees his role as connecting-dots and building people who build their business. For Ian, people are innovative by nature and history provides ample evidence; however, more often than not existing structures don’t facilitate the means to grow businesses that measure success outside the status quo – his kaupapa focusses on redefining what business success looks like.

Louise Hutt, Deputy Chairperson - Go Eco

Go Eco, the largest sustainability charity in the Waikato. She has a Master's degree from the University of Waikato, and has worked across technology, social enterprise, energy, and media. She's passionate about using technology to change the world for the better. 

Amber Taylor, Co-Founder & CEO - Ara Journeys

Amber (Ngāti Mutunga, Ngāti Whātua, Te Rarawa, Ngapuhi) describes herself as a “tech geek” and was a 2019 Hi-Tech Awards and CPrize Awards Finalist. In 2018 Amber co-founded Augmented Reality Applications (ARA), a company that creates environmental-based, digital experiences that connect people to cultural stories of the land, preserve mātauranga Māori and normalise the use of te Reo Māori. 

Ginette Van Praag, Founder at The Technology Hub

Ginette has been an Executive member of DTTA and in 2011 developed the Teacher's Lounge blog, affording a 'one-stop-shop' in support of the Digital Technologies Achievement Standards. Her boutique consultancy, The Technology Hub was one of nine providers selected nationally for the Ministry of Education's Strengthening Digital Technologies initiative.

Andrea Black, CIO - Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC)

Experienced General Manager with a demonstrated history of working within the IT & Energy industries. Having a strong focus on business benefits and outcomes, I am passionate about providing a consistently high level of service and enabling organisations to understand and deploy technology/teams that helps drive the success of strategic business plans. 

Nicole Chan, Software Developer - Imagimation School

Hamilton born and bred, Nicole Chan is an enthusiast for technology, giving back, and Duck Island Ice-cream. Nicole graduated from the University of Waikato in 2018 with a Bachelor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences in computer science and psychology. While studying, she was President of LadiesInC, a group for women and minorities studying STEM, as well as Secretary for the Computer Science Students’ Society. 

Alison Chick - IT Project Manager - NIWA

For most of her working career Alison has been in IT, across sectors such as health, construction and science. Science and Technology are two sectors that highly interest and motivate Alison, who has for  many years been a strong advocate for girls in leadership roles. Her approach as an IT project manager is to educate that technology can be life changing and easy to use once you know how. 

Craig Harrington, Technician - NZ Artificial Limb Service

Craig is 45 years old of which 30 years has been as an amputee. He has pent 18 years self-employed with two companies. One was a plastic and composite rear company specialising in carbon fibre and acrylic on site work. The other was a moped scooter company, specialising in high end mods and retail sales. Craig has been working at the NZALS for 3 years where he has been at the for front of design, manufacture and testing of 3d printed socket technology. 

Aubrey Te Kanawa, Programme Director - Kōkiri

Aubrey has worked in wide range of industries including health and fitness, education, banking and property development. His varied experience and lifelong education journey has prepared him for his role at Kōkiri – a Māori-led business accelerator at the leading edge of Maori entrepreneurship and innovation, supporting ideas and ventures in Aotearoa.

Tip Piumsomboon, Principal - Blackbird Ventures

Inspired by founders' stories and an advocate for a purposeful career path, Tip is a true believer of the magic of startups and small groups of ambitious people adding incredible value to the world. 

Blackbird is a venture capital fund, based in Australia and New Zealand, that invests in every type of technology from software to space, unified by the biggest of ambitions.

Share Knowledge & Build Capacity

Craig Humphrey, Office 365 Development Manager - Enlighten Designs

Craig is an experienced IT Professional /technologist, always looking for ways to improve productivity and efficiency, through the innovative use of technology. As a hands-on Development Manager he inspires teams to stretch for new heights with their skills and technology, delivering results through his broad range of experience, business acumen and technical knowledge.

Matt Cairns, Senior Developer - Enlighten Designs

Experienced Senior Developer with a demonstrated history of working in the information technology and services industry. Skilled in SQL, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), Web Applications, HTML, and JavaScript. Strong engineering professional with a Bachelor's degree focused in Mathematics and Computer Science from The University of Waikato. 

Grant Johnson, Director - Rocketspark

As the least technical of Rocketspark’s founders Grant is always looking for ways to make the complex simple.  His career prior to Rocketspark spanned a broad range of industries which provides a great depth of business knowledge. With his wife, Grant launched, grew and sold an online store which has provided deep insight into what it takes to grow an e-commerce business

Prashant Khanna, Cyber Hygiene Tutor - Wintec

Imparting technical life skills to budding IT aspirants is Prashant's passion and at Wintec he helps students build their knowledge and learn skills in cyber security, big data, and business system analysis and design. Prior to this, he was a Colonel in the Indian Army and responsible for managing the entire communication and IT grid for over 200,000 sq. km in Western India.

Jason Wild, GM of Security, The Instillery

Jason has over 25 years of experience in the IT industry with over 20 years in management and consulting roles. Originally from the UK, he emigrated to NZ in 2011 and has solid experience in conducting security assessments, creating a program of work from those assessments and then driving forward and implementing identified solutions. He also designed The Instillery Information Security Service Portfolio.

​Dr. Abigail Koay, Research Fellow - University of Waikato

Abigail's research focuses on detecting Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks on large-scale networks and in the Cloud using software-defined networking technologies and applied machine learning. Abigail has also taught Cloud Computing Security and Technologies and Cyber Security courses, supervised students in Cyber Security related projects as well as conducted workshops to high-school students in New Zealand. 

Mark Knowles, Manager Cybersecurity Advisory Practice - Datacom

Mark’s knowledge, experience and storytelling stems from a vast range of incidents, but during his time with the Department of Corrections he experienced first-hand the effects of the MSD kiosk security breach. Mark is also responsible for implementing the PhishMe programme at IAG and establishing & rolling out the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Act 2013 (TICSA). 

Steve Wiggins, CEO - Payments NZ Limited

As Chief Executive of Payments NZ and the newly launched Payments NZ API Centre™, Steve is responsible for ensuring the New Zealand payments industry remains innovative, progressive, interoperable and self-governing. He came to the role with extensive experience in senior executive roles through a career spanning more than three decades in industries as diverse as finance, energy, and consultancy services.

Chad Haighmark, Strategy Manager - Payments NZ Limited

As Strategy Manager Chad leads strategic company and industry initiatives, working through complex strategic issues and operational challenges to develop and implement innovative solutions. He is currently leading Payments NZ's industry strategic initiative, Payments Direction, which is considering and developing key enabling capabilities for NZ's payments system now and into the future.

Joy Millar, Payment Strategy & Innovation - ASB

Joy has been involved in Payment Innovation since 2004, working primarily in the Cards area.  Her current role is looking at how Open Banking and Digital Identity could shape the NZ market and believes a more co-ordinated approach will deliver the best outcomes for Aotearoa.

Gerard Creamer, Head of Payments - Trade Me

Gerard started a payment gateway, Paystation, as well as other businesses, and then sold Face, Paystation and Netspace to Trade Me in 2014 and has worked at Trade Me since, initially designing, developing and delivering Ping, and now running the Payments business unit.

Megan Simons, Director - Merchants, Acquiring & Acceptance - Mastercard

Prior to joining MasterCard, Megan spent almost 10 years at American Express including as Business Development Manager, Account Development Executive, Client Manager - Merchant Services, and then Payments Consultant, Global Merchant Services.

Craig Purcell, Innovation Specialist - Te Waka

Craig's background goes across private business consulting, the beef, sheep and deer sectors, and over 10 years in the dairy sector with a bias on the digital bits. Prior to that he had a passion for the HR side of things still stating that innovation is all about the people – seldom the tech. 

Jonathan Miller, Future Insights - Callaghan Innovation

Jonathan is a thought leader in emerging technology and future trends speaking frequently at conferences and in the media on that topic. He produced Callaghan Innovation’s whitepaper on Artificial Intelligence. He has previously served a term on the board of NZTech and is currently on the board of the NZ IoT Alliance. 

Sean Williams, Partner Manager - SkyPoint Technologies Ltd

Proud family man, lifelong learner and lover of all things geeky. Sean enjoys helping people and organisations get the most out of technology. Outside of work he enjoys time with family, being in the great outdoors and reading a good book

Michael Salisbury, Technical Manager - SkyPoint Technologies

Hamilton born and bred, Michael has been enthusiastic about technology for as long as he can remember.  With a passion for always aiming higher he also enjoys the challenges of leadership, spending time with his family, and a good game of squash or golf.

Quentin Weber, Owner - Unbound Digital Marketing

Quentin has a passion for helping people get found online, helping businesses with digital marketing strategy and implementation of well crafted digital marketing campaigns. Quentin works at both a strategic as well as a tactical level.

Chantelle Harper, Head of Marketing - Yellow

As a lifetime orchestrator of amused scepticism of all things, Chantelle has a career history and style of marketing that generally questions the norm, spanning an eclectic mix of industry before entering the realms of digital marketing. 

James Richardson, Client Services Executive - Mint Design

James is an entrepreneur and marketing strategist. He helps local and international companies translate marketing jargon and buzzwords into tangible business results.

Paul Pritchard, Group Chief Operating Officer - Overdose

Paul is a digital leader with deep experience in helping businesses grow in a connected world. 

Douglas James, Business Development Manager - CloudTech NZ

Doug is not a typical marketing professional….What Doug is a real world example of how CRM and Marketing Automation platforms can transform a business.

Crafting your NZ Story Workshop

Peter Roband, NZ Story Group

Peter has 35 years of experience in design thinking and design execution, working in NZ, the UK and in Luxembourg. His background is in graphic design and execution, particularly in storytelling and brand. Peter coaches organisations to embed design thinking  (and doing) methodology and tools to design better products, services and experiences. Peter has been running workshops with NZ Story for the last few years. 

Andrew Melville, NZ Story Group

Andrew has storytelling in his blood. He followed in his father and grandfather's footsteps and started his career in journalism and broadcasting. For the past 15 years he has run his own communications practice, Spoke, facilitating workshops on storytelling, engagement and leadership across the corporate, government, not for profit and Iwi sectors. 

Frauke Sharplin, NZ Story Group

Frauke is an experienced Programme Manager driving growth and engagement for NZ Story’s export networks. She is passionate about facilitating trade connections working with business and government stakeholders, and the design and delivery of effective marketing programmes, industry speaking and networking events and workshops. A European at heart with a love for New Zealand and a desire to see Kiwi businesses succeed on the world stage. 


Enable attendees to access knowledge, experience and insights from leaders operating at the forefront of technology locally and globally.


Support the creation of networks between the local technology sector, business, education providers and the wider community.

Share knowledge

Support people future-proof their businesses and their lives.

Build capacity

Create opportunities that will help stimulate greater growth and innovation in the technology sector and business community.


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