Global thought leaders explore core tensions in business transformation

6 March 2015: A Kiwi who boasts the title of Nike Global Creative Director, a man whose body of work includes the Fitbit line of wearable fitness devices, Google’s Head of Marketing for the Americas and a Harvard-trained and published neuroanatomist (whose TED talk is still one of the most watched talks ever) are among the key presenters getting set to descend on Auckland’s Villa Maria Estate for New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE)’s seventh Better by Design CEO Summit.

Speakers will be joined by close to 400 CEOs and senior managers from a wide range of New Zealand businesses at the Summit, held on Tuesday 10 and Wednesday 11 March. The theme of this year’s Summit is ‘Balancing Transformation’ and marks the tenth anniversary of Better by Design. Delegates will spend two days immersed in both the theory and real world examples of design-led transformation, gaining valuable insights from those that are reinventing success in their industries.

The Summit will explore two core tensions:

  • How do you implement disruptive, future-based plans while executing last year’s business plan and running an operating model that pays the bills?
  • How do you integrate the creative and visionary side of your business with the analytical and operational aspects and roles?

To succeed internationally and stay ahead of competitors, Better by Design Director, Suzie Marsden, says New Zealand businesses need to be constantly innovating to add value.

“Innovating is primarily the domain of the right brain and can challenge the comfort levels of what is often a left brain-dominated business paradigm. This year’s Summit brings together global and local thinkers and doers who have successfully managed this tension using a design thinking approach. It is also an opportunity to tell our own stories and to be inspired by New Zealand companies using design to transform themselves on the world stage.”

Key speakers at the Better by Design CEO Summit 2015 include:

Dr Jill Bolte Taylor, Harvard-trained and published neuroanatomist. In 2008, Dr. Jill gave a presentation at a TED Conference, which became the first TED talk to go viral through the internet. Dr. Jill became world-famous instantly and her TED talk is still one of the most viewed TED talks of all time. The New York Times Bestseller was also named in TIME Magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the World for 2008.

Joe Lassiter, Professor of Management Practice in Environmental Management, Harvard Business School; and Faculty Chair, Harvard Innovation Lab/Harvard University. Joe teaches Entrepreneurial Finance and Innovation in Business, Energy, and Environment in the MBA and Executive Education Programmes. His academic and professional work focuses on high-potential ventures and has most recently concentrated on the cleantech and energy sectors.

Andreas Harlow, Andreas is currently VP/Global Creative Director of Running Footwear at Nike Inc. Andreas grew up in New Zealand, where he studied Industrial Design, then relocated to California in 1997 to focus on footwear design. His clients include Hi-Tec Footwear, Birkenstock, Etnies, Burton Snowboards and Nike.

David Butler, Vice President, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, The Coca-Cola Company. David leads a platform called Coca-Cola Founders and manages a portfolio of early-stage startups. The platform is designed to co-create startups by partnering Coca-Cola with a global network of experienced entrepreneurs. 

Gadi Amit, Founder and Principal Designer, NewDealDesign. Gadi is a San Francisco-based designer behind some of the most innovative and lasting technology devices created over the last decade. His work includes the Fitbit line of wearable devices, the Google Ara Modular phone, the Lytro Light Field Camera, Sproutling and Whistle.

Dan Radcliffe, Executive Director and Founder, International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ). Starting the business from his family farm in North Taranaki, Dan has built IVHQ into the world's largest volunteer travel company, placing over 12,000 people abroad annually into 30 different countries. In 2014, Dan was named New Zealand Entrepreneur of the Year and IVHQ is a finalist across multiple categories in the 2015 New Zealand International Business Awards.

Rod Drury, CEO and Co-Founder, Xero. Rod was recognised as New Zealand Entrepreneur of the Year in 2013, Business Leader of the Year in 2012, member of the New Zealand Hi-Tech Hall of Fame, NZ Hi-Tech Entrepreneur of the Year in 2006 and 2007, World Class New Zealander for ICT in 2008 and an Honorary Fellow of the NZ Computer Society.

Keith Yamashita, Founder and Chairman of SYPartners, a practice that collaborates with CEOs and their leadership teams to build great companies. Keith has worked with leaders at Apple, eBay, IBM, General Electric, Johnson & Johnson, Facebook, Nike, and Target Corporation, among others.

Rob Fyfe, CEO, Icebreaker. Rob was named CEO of Icebreaker in June 2014. Rob has additional non-executive roles on the Board of international jewellery company Michael Hill International, as a Director on the Board of Antarctica New Zealand and as a strategic advisor to Craggy Range Winery. He was previously CEO of Air New Zealand.

View the full list of impressive speakers at

The 2015 CEO Summit is sponsored by ANZ, AUT University and Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development (ATEED).

Journalists seeking more information can contact:

Deirdre Robert
Senior Communications Consultant, NZTE
(09)354 9139
021 991 060

Editors' notes

About the Summit

Held every 18 months, NZTE’s Better by Design CEO Summit is one of the most dynamic events on the business calendar, showcasing some of the world’s top design thinkers and practitioners.

The Summit offers delegates the opportunity to be immersed in both the theory and real world examples of design thinking, giving them inspirational insights that are applicable to New Zealand businesses.

In addition to two days of inspiration, the Summit provides delegates with the opportunity to be part of a learning community of business people and designers who are committed to fostering design-led innovation in New Zealand.

About Better by Design

Better by Design’s purpose is to inspire and enable New Zealand businesses to success by design. Better by Design is a service offering within New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE), New Zealand’s national economic development agency.

NZTE’s role is to increase New Zealand companies’ international success, by helping them boost their global reach and build capability.
We leverage our connections and government influence on behalf of businesses, and apply local knowledge – from the NZTE team and a network of private sector experts – to help them enter and grow in international markets.

We also link businesses with services designed to improve efficiency and operations, spark innovation, refine strategy, enhance leadership, and access capital – building the capability they need to be successful and grow bigger, better, faster. More successful international businesses will grow our economy to benefit all New Zealanders, by providing jobs and raising our standard of living.