Meet our Judges

Close up of Andrew Baker
Andrew Baker - MBA, PGDipMS, MInstD

Andrew Baker has come from a long career at Air New Zealand, working across Government and Industry Affairs, Marketing and Brand, Customer Service, Communications and Tourism.

Andrew was responsible for the cultural transformation at Air New Zealand, creating and implementing the Māori strategy that has integrated Māori culture across its entire business and lifted Air New Zealand to be one of New Zealand’s most engaged corporates in Māori language and culture.

Andrew is now the Director of consultancy services business 3degrees, which helps businesses understand how to strategically deliver commercial, brand and stakeholder value to their organisations by authentically integrating the Māori culture and language.
Close up of Bill Debbie

Bill Dobbie 

Bill Dobbie is a manager in the Economic Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT).  His responsibilities include working with other Government agencies to improve the Ministry’s support for exporters, with a particular focus on tackling trade barriers. 

Since joining MFAT in the 1990s, Bill has undertaken a range of roles in New Zealand and overseas, spanning the Ministry’s diplomatic, security, development, corporate services and trade work.  His diplomatic postings have taken him to Spain, Samoa, the United Kingdom and most recently Vanuatu, where he served as New Zealand High Commissioner. 

Bill’s New Zealand-based roles have included serving as Director of the Ministry’s Audit Review Division and as Private Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Close up of Charles Finny
Charles Finny

Charles Finny has over 22 years’ experience in government and diplomatic roles, and has worked in Singapore, Beijing and Taipei. He is a partner at the Wellington Government Relations consultancy, Saunders Unsworth.

Charles is the Chair of the Education New Zealand Board and sits on the Boards of Woolyarns and Business Central. He served on the Film Commission board for seven years and the Victoria University Council for eight years.

Charles was Chief Executive Officer of the Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce for five and a half years, and earlier held a variety of government roles across the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Department of Trade and Industry, and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. He served for a period as lead negotiator for the China-New Zealand Free Trade agreement, and also led negotiations on New Zealand’s customs agreement with Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu.
Headshot of Craig Cotton

Craig Cotton

As a business leader Craig Cotton is very clear on what drives him in life. One of the most important elements can be summed up in his favourite Maori proverb.
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

His innate passion for people has been at the core of everything he has achieved in his career, spanning 21yrs in the FMCG industry across NZ, Australia and Asia Pacific Markets where he excelled in sales, marketing, commercial, people and strategic leadership. Craig is not one for typical titles, in fact he phrased his first CEO title as ‘Creating Exciting Opportunities’ however now as a Director of Affero Ventures and CEO of the NZ Innovation Council, he is possibly now known for ‘Connecting Exciting Opportunities’ through helping Kiwi businesses navigate and fast track their path to success.
Close up of David Downs
David Downs – 2018 Convenor of Judges

David Downs leads strategic projects at New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE), including a large programme of work focused on NZTE’s support for tech customers.

David joined NZTE in August 2012 as a Customer Director. He became General Manager Services in January 2013, General Manager Internal Partners in November 2015, and took up his current role as General Manager Projects in April 2018.

David is an experienced ICT senior executive with more than 20 years' experience in both multi-national corporations and small and medium business, in developed as well as emerging markets. Before joining NZTE he spent 10 years at Microsoft, most recently as Regional Director Professional Services South East Asia based in Singapore. His previous roles at Microsoft included leading their professional services, marketing and customer and partnerships divisions in New Zealand.

David is also a published author (including books on innovation in New Zealand) and an award-winning radio and TV presenter. He has a passion for working with companies that will help propel New Zealand into a position of world-leading innovation and success.

Gavin Haworth headshot

Gavin Haworth

Gavin has over 30 years of banking experience and is a specialist in providing trade and supply chain finance, cash management and payment solutions. During his career, Gavin has supported multi-national clients in New Zealand, the UK and Ireland, the Nordic region and the Middle East.

Gavin manages ANZ New Zealand’s Trade and Supply Chain business and ANZ’s Commercial & Agri Transactional Banking, working with dedicated teams to help New Zealand importers and exporters realise their goals and grow their business.

An interest in cross border goods and capital flows between New Zealand and global markets has supported Gavin’s past executive positions on the New Zealand China Trade Association and ASEAN New Zealand Business Council.

Hinemaua Rikirangi

Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāti Hako
Te Tumu Whakarae (Executive Director), Māori Economic Development, Ministry of Business Innovation & Employment

Hinemaua joined MBIE in November 2017 in the role of Te Tumu Whakarae, Executive Director of Te Kupenga, responsible for leading, managing, influencing and advising on Māori Economic Development and building cultural capability across the width of MBIE. Within this portfolio, Te Kupenga leads for MBIE the cross agency, Crown-Māori, economic development strategy ‘He Kai Kei Aku Ringa’ and provides input into key policy topics impacting Māori.

This includes things like employment, Crown-Māori relationships and treaty settlements, building Māori capability across industries and regions, growing Māori enterprises from SME’s through to iwi businesses. Hinemaua also has experience as Director of Māori strategy, policy and partnerships at the Ministry for Primary Industries helping to increase productivity of Māori owned land and agribusinesses.

Her background includes governance roles and corporate sector finance having worked for the BNZ National Māori Business team within BNZ Institutional Banking. She played a key role leading BNZ’s Māori business strategy, developing a number of new, organisation wide initiatives which were of benefit to Māori whilst also providing specialist advice to BNZ Partners, Retail and Corporate services across Aotearoa New Zealand.
Close up of Janine Smith

Janine Smith MNZM, BCom, MPhil (Hons1st class)  

Janine Smith has been a company director for over 20 years.  She is a founding Principal of The Boardroom Practice Limited (TBPL) which specialises in boardroom practice and organisational development and change issues for boards and management.

Janine is also chair of AsureQuality, the only independent member of Fonterra’s Governance Development Committee, a Council member of AUT, President of the London Business School alumni Auckland chapter, a well-known judge of business awards, and a member of ArcAngels and Global Women.

Janine has held a number of non-executive independent board positions as director and chair in publicly listed companies, state-owned enterprises, private businesses, and companies in the arts and education sectors. She has also held executive director positions with Telecom Directories and Arnott’s New Zealand, where she served as General Manager and CEO.

In 2010, Janine completed a research-only Master of Philosophy on ‘Effective Boards from Inside the Boardroom’, one of the first studies of its type in the world. 

Janine was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2015 New Year’s Honours List for her services to corporate governance.

June McCabe

June McCabe, Executive Director of Sustainable Prosperity has been a company Director for over 20 years and held directorships across a wide range of sectors including housing, property, finance, health, education and investment. In parallel, she has been involved in banking and finance industry as a senior executive in Westpac Banking Corporation, and  in a consultancy partnership role with JBWere.

June is a strong advocate for accelerating  growth in the Māori economy through participation in the capital markets, and holds governance roles with her iwi to support these endeavors as well as from time to time policy advocacy roles including Maori economic commission and Maori economic taskforce and panel who were the founding architects of He Kai Kei Aku Ringa – the Crown-Maori Economic Growth Partnership.

June holds a Master of Business and set up her management consultancy firm Sustainable Prosperity NZ Limited which has a particular emphasis on the sustainability  agenda and the role of financial assets and economic models that embrace the four pillars (pou) of sustainability.


Libby McFadden

Libby McFadden is Head of Brand and Content at New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, and leads NZTE’s brand development and storytelling for business audiences both in New Zealand and overseas.

Libby is a senior executive with nearly 20 years’ experience working across global brands in private and public sectors, in both developed and emerging markets. Prior to joining NZTE, Libby was Associate Director for Brand and Design at H+K Strategies UK (London) where she worked with clients across the Middle East, Asia, Europe and the United Kingdom, developing brand strategy and global marketing campaigns.

Libby returned to New Zealand in 2014, and is passionate about enabling the success of New Zealand businesses in overseas markets, for the good of New Zealand.


Close up of Michael Whitehead
Michael Whitehead

Michael Whitehead is the Co-Founder and Director of WhereScape Software and NOW Consulting, and Founder and Principal at Tap In Ventures. He is a Prime Minister’s Business Scholarship winner and a category winner in the New Zealand EY Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.

Under Michael’s tenure as CEO of WhereScape, the company was a New Zealand International Business Awards finalist in 2015 before going on to receive both the Best Medium Business Award and the Judges’ Supreme Award for International Business in 2016.
During this time, WhereScape also received an Excellence in International Trade Award at the 2016 Westpac Auckland Business Best of the Best Awards, and was highly commended at the 2016 AmCham Success and Innovation Awards. It was most recently awarded Services Exporter of the Year (export revenue over $10 million) at the 2017 ExportNZ Awards for Auckland and Waikato.
Close up of Miranda Burdon
Miranda Burdon

Miranda Burdon is the CEO of NZ Global Women, a not-for-profit initiative focused on driving New Zealand’s social and economic prosperity through creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace.

Miranda’s executive career has primarily focused on the commercial side of agri-based businesses spanning wine, dairy and mushrooms. She has over eighteen years of governance experience and is currently Chair of Meadow Mushrooms Limited, one of the largest horticultural businesses in the South Island and the second-largest mushroom grower in Australasia.

The mother of three sons, Miranda lives with her husband Andrew in Auckland.
Headshot of Noel Blackwell
Noel Blackwell 

Managing Director, Group Head of Strategy at Designworks with overall responsibility for the studio with the designworks leadership team, Noels practice involves the ultimate overview of the strategic thinking and clarity of insight that sits behind designworks creative excellence.
Blending the business and commercial disciplines into powerful design drivers is my focus, always in a way that clarifies, simplifies and serves to power the design work.

I joined Designworks in January 2006 after various sales and marketing roles in the tourism, telecommunications and media industries across New Zealand and the U.K. I love leveraging my wide range of experiences to help clients plan initiatives across the areas of brand positioning, design strategy and orchestration of the wider brand experience.

Since joining the company Noel has worked across the studios key clients including: Auckland International Airport, Coca-Cola, Comvita, DB Breweries, Heineken, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, New Zealand Story Group, Tourisim New Zealand, New Zealand Film Commission, Manaaki Whenua, Fonterra and Fonterra brands, Silver Fern Farms, BNZ, Spark and Les Mills. Noel also has extensive experience with place branding from a local and regional agency perspective.

Active in both the design community and wider New Zealand international business scene Noel is a champion of the positive power of design to take our New Zealand stories to the world.
“I’m passionate about creating reactions, about moving people with new connections. For me Design works to make things better, to make a real difference, to make our stories more memorable and more meaningful.

Rebecca Smith

Rebecca Smith is the driving force behind New Zealand Story; an initiative set up to help exporters get a competitive advantage by sharing a strong, consistent story about what New Zealand has to offer in international markets.

With more than 20 years’ experience in marketing and communications, Rebecca has worked in a variety of New Zealand businesses. As General Manager Brand & Communications for Fonterra’s NZ Milk Products division, Rebecca led the development of the dairy giant’s global B2B brand and spearheaded a new approach to global communications for the business. Prior to Fonterra she worked at BNZ and Telecom.

Tina Wilson

Tina is the convenor of the He Kai Kei Aku Ringa  - Māori Excellence in Export award.

She leads Te Taurapa Tūhono | NZTE‘s Māori Strategy and overseeing Te Pora Māori  - a specialist team of 12 across the organisation, focused on growing Maori companies internationally, bigger, better, faster for the good of New Zealand.

Tina is a Māori business specialist working with Maori Business for the last 25 years.  She has extensive business and investment experience and deep connections within Māoridom.  She is responsible for Te Taurapa Tūhono | New Zealand Trade and Enterprises’ response for the growth and development through internationalising Māori Business and investment opportunities for Māori – including Māori knowledge and capability across the workforce in the 50 NZTE global offices.

Tina has vast governance experience on Māori and non-Māori entities, currently sitting on the boards for Massey University, Tupu Toa and Iwi entities.  Prior to joining NZTE’s commercial team in March 2015, Tina was CEO of the Taupo Moana Group / IWIinvestor – specialist investment advisory firm for Māori (pan-tribal entities) providing portfolio construction, investment policy development, portfolio Management for wholesale clients and retail product development.  She was also a founding member of Pareaarau Group – the first Māori Chartered Accountancy firm.

Close up of Sam Witters
Sam Witters 

Sam Witters is a US-based New Zealander and the CEO of SW&Partners US, which advises and invests in automated technology and leads sales, distribution and production finance for tech media and entertainment production companies.

Sam specialises in building revenue pathways for Fortune 500 entertainment companies and their subsidiary tech, content and creative media divisions, as well as supporting media-related start-ups looking to move into the United States. She previously launched one of the first independent streaming video on demand (VOD) film services in the US, and has worked with and for Viacom, NBC Universal, Lionsgate Studios, Tribeca Enterprises, and Aardman Animations.

Sam is a board director and investor, a Beachheads Advisor for New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, an Associate of the BAFTA VR Council, and a recipient of the Berlin School of Creative Leadership EMBA ‘Women in Media’ Scholarship. Her mission is to bring capital and business acumen to creative collaboration, to get the best content and best talent to the widest possible audience.
View the 2018 winners