Meet our Judges

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.

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.

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.
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.

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.

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.
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.
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.