Sam Johnson, Student Volunteer Army
Sam Johnson is one of New Zealand’s most inspiring young citizens. His relentless energy to mobilise people around ideas has a magic ability in building movements that matter! Farm boy turned social entrepreneur, Sam’s work is on the leading edge of using the collective to overcome the bureaucratic – shifting our belief system about what is possible when teams, organisations and communities authentically connect and build empathy.
Sam is founder and chief executive of the Student Volunteer Army and is well-known for his entrepreneurial ideas that continue to make significant differences to the lives of others. Sam leads the team to design and operate projects that impact over 65,000 volunteers each year in New Zealand. The Student Army partnered with New World supermarkets during COVID to design, develop and deploy an end-to-end shopping service for people most at–risk from the virus within a week. Sam oversaw his team scaling from a team of seven to 98 and building capacity to deliver contactless groceries for up to 10,000 households a week. Sam and the team are continuing to make the most of the crisis, as every organisation must do, by rapidly testing new initiatives, and evolving their business model to fit the challenging times we are in.
Susan Freeman-Greene, CEO at LGNZ
Susan leads Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) after nearly six years as Chief Executive of Engineering New Zealand where she led the transformation of the organisation into a modern inclusive outward-facing organisation dedicated to engineering better lives for New Zealanders. The LGNZ role excites her as local government is at the heart of our communities, and she’s clear that when local government is strong our communities thrive – and so does Aotearoa.
Before Engineering New Zealand, Susan was Chief Executive of the Broadcasting Standards Authority. She also held leadership positions at the Human Rights Commission, as Chief Mediator and Strategic Policy Manager. She has practised law and mediation in both New Zealand and the United Kingdom and sees them both informing her leadership style. She sees the harder-edged legal, compliance, analytical skills and softer-edged relationship, influencing and advocacy skills as two sides of the leadership coin. Susan is also on the Board of Vital and Tāwhiri, the creative force behind the New Zealand Festival of the Arts.
Outside work you can find her walking on the townbelt, on a yoga mat, behind a book or spending time with friends and family.
Jehan Casinader, journalist
Jehan Casinader is of New Zealand’s leading storytellers. He has spent 12 years reporting for TVNZ’s top current affairs programmes, including Sunday, Seven Sharp, Close Up and Breakfast. He was named “Broadcast Reporter of the Year” at the Voyager Media Awards in 2020.
As a survivor of depression, Jehan wants all Kiwis to be able to tell hopeful, helpful stories about their lives – stories that promote mental wellbeing.
He is the author of a moving and inspiring book called This Is Not How It Ends: How rewriting your story can save your life (HarperCollins).
Jarrod Kerr, Kiwibank Chief Economist
Jarrod Kerr is Kiwibank’s Chief Economist. Jarrod has a passion for the environment, financial markets, and everything economics. Although born and schooled in New Zealand, he cut his teeth in US, Swiss, and Australian banks, and has spent his entire career overseas. Jarrod started off as an economist at JP Morgan in Sydney. He then moved into financial markets as an interest rate strategist for the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, before moving to Credit Suisse in Singapore as Head of Australian and New Zealand fixed income and economic research. After 16 years abroad, Jarrod returned home to the mighty Kiwibank in 2018.
Ross Copland, CE at Infracom
Ross Copland has a background in the design, procurement, financing, and delivery of infrastructure as an engineer, an asset manager and a Chief Executive. He’s worked in commercial construction and property on both sides of the Tasman, finishing up as National Operations Manager for Westfield in 2013. He returned to New Zealand to pursue a career developing tourism infrastructure. Ross holds a Bachelor of Civil Engineering with First Class Honours, a Bachelor of Commerce and an MBA.
Vic Crone, CE of Callaghan Innovation
As the CEO of Callaghan Innovation (New Zealand’s Government-backed innovation agency), Vic Crone knows first-hand how innovation can change the trajectory of individual businesses AND of New Zealand.
While forestry, dairy and tourism have been stalwart industries in the past, it’s time to diversify and future-proof our economy and raise living standards for all – to do this, Vic says, we must turn ourselves into a hub for high-value, knowledge intensive businesses.
Her vision for innovation in Aotearoa is to encourage businesses to invest in research and development, build businesses’ confidence, and beef up the commercialisation of ideas to take overseas. We’re already doing some incredible stuff in our industry – now it’s time to amplify it and take it to the next level… and to the world. Robot lawn mowers, voice-activated household tools, 3D printers – Vic will share upcoming trends, and local and international examples of innovation, to inspire you and show you what is possible. Her challenge to us is to embrace the possibilities of technology and focus on nurturing your entrepreneurial and innovative potential to realise your ambitions. The future is coming – learn how to embrace it, rather than holding on to the past.
Dr Siouxsie Wiles
From ivory-towered academic to “that pink-haired science lady”. Dr Siouxsie Wiles MNZM is an award-winning scientist who has made a career of manipulating microbes. Her day job is university lecturer and head of the Bioluminescent Superbugs Lab where she and her team make nasty bacteria glow in the dark to find new medicines. Siouxsie also has a passion for demystifying science, and she was doing this long before the pandemic. So much so that in 2019 she was appointed a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to microbiology and science communication. When the pandemic arrived, Siouxsie joined forces with Spinoff cartoonist Toby Morris to make the science of the pandemic clear and understandable. Their graphics have been translated into multiple languages and adapted by various governments and organisations. In her talk, Siouxsie will reflect on what she’s learned about COVID-19, science communication, and leadership during this extraordinary time in our lives.