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This CEO role is equivalent to getting an MBA on the job: NZTech chair

This CEO role is equivalent to getting an MBA on the job: NZTech chair

“You can’t work for any business and get this level of opportunity, whether it is in public service or the private sector,” says Bennett Medary, on the NZTech CEO role that will be vacated end of this month

The chair of NZTech, Bennett Medary, is calling on his colleagues in ICT to help in the search for the next CEO of the industry association.

“We want our industry to put forward some of their very best talents selflessly,” says Medary, who is the founder and chair of Kiwi tech company, SimplHealth.

He points out getting the right person to lead the organisation is important “in order to advance things that are important to us all".

Current NZTech CEO Candace Kinser is leaving at the end of October, and the organisation is accepting applications for the role until the end of this month.

Medary says the next NZTech CEO would be like getting an MBA on the job and an "experience that no one else can have".

“After three years, you can choose any career outcome in government and board roles, and companies.”

The CEO role involves acting as spokesperson for the sector at events and in media, leading business mission trips overseas, creating opportunities for members to network and connect, working with businesses and educational institutions to help increase interest in technology and to grow the talent for sector, and working with government officials to influence positive policy outcomes for the industry.

“You can’t work for any business and get this level of opportunity, whether it is in public service or the private sector,” says Medary.

You can’t work for any business and get this level of opportunity, whether it is in public service or the private sector.

Bennett Medary, SimplHealth

So what type of applicants is NZTech looking for?

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“Builders, integrators and collaborators,” says Medary.

The role will not be one of an administrator. “They can’t just go and focus on one thing,” he states. “They need to bring people together to pursue a powerful vision and deliver those incremental gains, execute and deliver progress, month on month, quarter per quarter, year on year.

“They will be contributing hugely to the advance of the industry. It is quite well paid, and their reward is the opportunities they will be presented along the way.

“What it is not is a retirement job,” he says.

Read more: Ex-NZ Tech CEO Candace Kinser becomes NZ lead of analytics company Palantir

He foresees it as a three-year job, but this is not legislated or is a fixed contract.

NZTech has produced a video explaining the role.

Medary says the video has been sent to their contacts across the globe, as Kiwis overseas may also be interested in the role.

NZTech was established six years ago, and is now entering its “third phase”, says Medary.

The first was the “founding phase” with Brett O’Riley, who as inaugural CEO had “established the brand out there as NZICT”. O’Riley is now Chief Executive at Auckland Tourism, Events & Economic Development (ATEED).

Candace Kinser was hired for the next phase, says Medary, which was around “establishing breadth and depth through the programs of work". It was also during this time that the organisation was renamed NZTech.

During this phase, NZTech worked with NZ Trade and Enterprise and with Cabinet ministers in offshore delegates that provided opportunities for Kiwi technology firms. There were also meetings with the venture capitalist community, and visits to universities and hi-tech companies like Google. “It was important to understand what the talent pool is like over there,” says Medary.

NZTech also “reached more deeply” in the industry through start-ups and smaller members during this phase. The organisation worked with the education sector, particularly polytechs and universities, “collaborating better on helping people to become more work ready and more relevant” when they exit university, and helping parents “appreciate the opportunity that the technology sector offers”.

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“We now have more people on our board and membership that relate [to] something other than ICT vendors.”

The third phase of the organisation, he says, is “where we need critical mass and develop anidea of a sustained collaboration with government and other parts of the economy.

“It will be around collaboration openly and in partnership with a number of stakeholders to design a program of impacts that represents outstanding business cases, in terms of accelerating the economic and social advance of New Zealand enabled by technology.

“That is the end game.”

Read more: From anthropology to information technology

He says NZTech is now at the stage where government is inviting business leaders to sit down and talk, and looking at “how to make that sustained collaboration real”.

"But we also need to bring our industry together," he says. “We have by nature an industry full of independent, very clever and very creative people; that is part of our beauty and part of our strength. But it does make it more challenging to come together as an industry and understand what collectively makes sense and what we need to identify and what we need to resource that we can only do on a shared service.

“It is a bit like taxation, how does every single person put a little bit on the pot so we can have stuff done that we all want done but none of us do individually? How can we be smarter in aligning all of our individual efforts and capabilities so we have less replication, everyone running around trying to do the same thing, and a little bit of sharing? We will keep specific things that are unique and aggregate that up so we gain a composite understanding of the industry at large.

"By being strong together, we can represent and understand and come to identify the most powerful things we can do that are beneficial to our country. Then government is keen to support an industry that knows where it is going and what it can offer."

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