Our Judges

Convenor of Judges

David Downs, General Manager Projects, NZTE


In his ‘day job’, David Downs is a General Manager at New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE), working with the technology sector to help fast-growing tech companies expand internationally. David has held various roles at NZTE, in the Services, Customer and Corporate Services teams. 
David spent 13 years at Microsoft, in New Zealand and as regional director for South East Asia, and has set up and run successful businesses of his own. David is a published author on New Zealand Innovation, with two highly successful books – No.8 Re-wired, and No.8 Recharged. He also documented his fight with cancer in the book A Mild Touch of the Cancer. 
From March 2019, David has taken on the leadership role across government agencies and ministries for supercharging the NZ AgriTech sector, working in close collaboration with the industry.

Judges - General Categories
(Small, Medium and Large Businesses)

Aliesha Staples
Founder and Director, Staples VR

Aliesha Staples is the founder and director of StaplesVR, an award-winning technology company that is pushing the boundaries of possibility. As a sought-after producer, Aliesha has worked with studios including Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures, TVNZ and ABC. 
StaplesVR is in demand around the world for its creative problem solving. In recent years Aliesha's passion for digital health has led to some remarkable innovations. Her company has developed 'distraction therapy', using virtual reality to reduce the need for drugs when children undergo non-invasive treatment. 
The StaplesVR team is driven by diverse people, an inclusive culture and working for social good. These are the three qualities that Aliesha believes are fundamental to providing economic value.

Gavin Haworth
Head of Transaction Commercial and Agri New Zealand, ANZ

Gavin has more than 30 years of banking experience, which has seen him support clients around the world. He has honed his expertise in trade and supply chain finance, cash management and payment solutions. 
Gavin's keen interest in cross border goods and capital flows between New Zealand and global markets has stood him in good stead. He has held executive positions on the New Zealand China Trade Association and ASEAN New Zealand Business Council. 
Today Gavin manages ANZ New Zealand’s Trade and Supply Chain business and ANZ’s Commercial & Agri Transactional Banking. His mission is to help New Zealand importers and exporters realise their goals and grow their businesses.

Janine Smith
BCom, MPhil (Hons 1st class), MNZM

Principal, The Boardroom Practice Ltd

Good governance is what makes Janine tick. A company director for more than 20 years, Janine also has a Master's degree focused on governance. 
Her career has spanned director and chair roles in companies of all shapes and sizes, public and private. With her renowned expertise, Janine is sought-after as a business awards judge. She was also a member of the screening panel for Crown directors for more than a decade.
Janine co-founded The Boardroom Practice Limited in 2003. The company specialises in driving quality corporate governance in New Zealand and internationally. In 2015, Janine's services to corporate governance saw her recognised in the New Year’s Honours List.

June McCabe
Executive Director, Sustainable Prosperity

June McCabe has been a company director for more than 20 years. Her governance career has taken her from property and health to technology and education, finance and investment. 
June has a long-standing interest in economic development and investment. She has held management and governance roles in banking and finance and been an investment policy advocate. June is also a strong advocate for accelerating growth in the Māori economy, and holds governance roles with her iwi. 
June holds a Master of Business degree and is the founder and Executive Director of Sustainable Prosperity. The management consultancy firm applies a sustainable lens to business development.

Vaughan Renner
Director, Business Central

Vaughan's career has spanned senior leadership and governance positions. He is Chair of the New Zealand Standards Approval Board and of Westlake Governance Limited. Vaughan is also President of Business New Zealand and Business Central and holds the Deputy Chair role at the Open Polytechnic of New Zealand.
Vaughan spent 16 years as CEO of South Pacific Tyres, leading New Zealand’s largest tyre manufacturer and distributor. His experience also includes general management roles in engineering, IT, and sales and marketing. 
He holds an MBA from Massey University, and a BE Hons (Chemical) and a BSc (Chemistry) from the University of Canterbury.

Judges - Excellence in Innovation and Excellence in Design

Craig Cotton

Director, OneHQ

As a business leader Craig is very clear on what drives him in life: 


He aha te mea nui o te ao 
What is the most important thing in the world? 
He tangata, he tangata, he tangata 
It is the people, it is the people, it is the people 


Craig’s innate passion for people is at the heart of everything he does. His senior leadership career has taken him across Australasia and the Asia Pacific.  In 2016, he left corporate life, co-founding Affero Ventures and OneHQ. 
A culture-driven leader, Craig focuses on understanding people’s “why”. Maximising on his diverse business and people network, he helps Kiwis win in business by connecting them to capital and capability.

Marc Michel

Independent Director, Adviser and Consultant

Marc came to business via an unconventional route, from a successful career as a professional yachtsman. 
Today Marc gets a buzz from leading high-performance teams to success. He is an independent director and adviser, with a focus on early-stage technology-based companies. 
Influenced by his former career, Marc founded GPS company Navman Australia. After a successful sale, Marc held senior management roles, honing his leadership skills.
In early 2016, Marc took over the helm of Mastip Technology, a major player in the global plastics market. In his three years as CEO, Marc focused on driving a strong culture and global growth through innovation.

Rosalie Nelson
GM, Strategy Impact and Insights, Callaghan Innovation

As an executive leader at New Zealand’s innovation agency, Rosalie is on an important mission – to activate innovation and help New Zealand businesses grow faster. 
Her passion is for helping business find new opportunities through market disruption. Forecasting impact and crafting strategic responses are her areas of expertise. 
Her previous roles include Head of Market Strategy and Insights at Chorus, and Research Director, Principal Analyst and Strategist roles with global research and consulting companies Ovum and IDC. 

Judges - Inspiring Preference for New Zealand 

Judges - Inspiring Women Leaders 

Judges - He kai kei aku ringa

for Māori Excellence in Export

Tina Wilson

Director - Māori Strategy, NZTE

Ngāti Tukorehe, Ngāti Raukawa, Muaupoko, Rangitane, Ngāi Tahu


Tina holds her people at the core of her heart – her driving force. 
Tina's expertise is in investment, business strategy, financial management, training and economic development. With extensive governance experience, Tina was recently appointed to the Massey University Council.
Tina has worked within the Māori sector for the past 25 years. Before joining NZTE, she was CEO of Taupō Moana Group/IWIinvestor, specialist investment advisors to 80 pan-tribal Māori entities. 
Tina holds a degree in Commerce and Maori and is a registered financial adviser. She is also an alumna of Te Hono, Stanford University Executive School, and a chartered member of the Institute of Directors.

Andrew Baker

MBA, PGDipMS, MInstD

Independent Director

Andrew is the director of a consultancy services business, 3degrees. In this role he helps businesses understand how to deliver commercial, brand and stakeholder value by authentically integrating the Māori culture and language.
Before this, Andrew had a long career at Air New Zealand, working across marketing, customer service, government and beyond. In his most recent role he oversaw a significant cultural transformation at the airline. He created and implemented a successful strategy to integrate Māori culture across the entire business. The programme saw Air New Zealand become one of New Zealand’s most engaged companies in Māori language and culture.

Craig Armstrong

Director – Customers, NZTE

Craig is a Customer Director at New Zealand Trade & Enterprise. He's on a mission to help New Zealand businesses grow into international markets. 
Craig has 20 years' global board and executive experience, at companies including Cadbury Schweppes and Heinz. He has also founded two start-ups, in food/natural products and agri-tech. 
Craig's business and food industry acumen has led to prominent advisory roles. He is on the Industry Advisory Panel of the NZ Government High Value Nutrition National Science Challenge. He is also on the Advisory Board of the NZ Product Accelerator. 
He is a member of the MBIE College of Assessors, New Zealand’s largest science investment fund. He is a graduate of Massey University and of Thunderbird School of Global Management executive programme.

Sam Witters

CEO, Board Director, Kaha Software, FDM Media

Sam’s mission is to deliver the best content and best talent to the widest possible audiences. Partnering with media and entertainment companies, she provides capital and business acumen to maximise revenue. She has worked with companies including NBC Universal and Aardman Animations. 
Today Sam mentors creatives and supports regional media and technology in New Zealand. She also continues to invest in start-ups, particularly those looking to expand into the US.
Sam is an alumna of Auckland and Massey Universities. She is currently completing her thesis at the Berlin School of Creative Leadership on the comparative advantages of Māori culture and values in global business.

Siobhan McKenna
CEO, Global Women

Siobhan is currently CEO of Global Women, a non-profit that has been driving diversity in leadership in Aotearoa New Zealand for 10 years.
She has a background in media, digital and utility sectors and was founder and CEO of MediaWorks' digital division.
Before joining Global Women, Siobhan held partner position at a global management consulting firm.
Siobhan has a fascination for inclusive workplace cultures and organisational operating systems.

Maggie Christie
Director - Creative Hub, NZTE

Maggie is a passionate marketing director, experienced in driving business results. Her career has taken her to both client and agency roles across industries, and around the world.
Maggie has played an integral role in the success of start-ups including AIM Proximity in Wellington and RAPP Tribal in Auckland. She also held senior roles at agencies Proximity NZ, M&C Saatchi and Colenso BBDO, before making her move to the public sector. 
At NZ Story, Maggie created tools and experiences to beautifully tell New Zealand's story to the world. Today Maggie is Director of Creative Hub, the internal marketing agency at New Zealand Trade and Enterprise. 

Matthew Molloy
Unit Manager International Connections, Trade and Economic Group, MFAT

Matthew Molloy is the Unit Manager of the International Connections Team at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Matthew and his team are on a mission to strengthen the Ministry’s support for New Zealand exporters in overseas markets. Day-to-day he works in collaboration with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and other agencies.
Matthew's passion and expertise are in trade and international policy issues. He recently returned from London where he worked for the UK Treasury, developing the UK’s post-Brexit trade policy.

Sam Witters

CEO, Board Director, Kaha Software, FDM Media

Sam’s mission is to deliver the best content and best talent to the widest possible audiences. Partnering with media and entertainment companies, she provides capital and business acumen to maximise revenue. She has worked with companies including NBC Universal and Aardman Animations. 
Today Sam mentors creatives and supports regional media and technology in New Zealand. She also continues to invest in start-ups, particularly those looking to expand into the US.
Sam is an alumna of Auckland and Massey Universities. She is currently completing her thesis at the Berlin School of Creative Leadership on the comparative advantages of Māori culture and values in global business.

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