Young New Zealand leaders heading to Hanoi

Fourteen members of the Foundation’s Leadership Network will be travelling to Hanoi this month to learn about Vietnam and make connections.

The Hanoi Hui aims to strengthen connections between New Zealand and Vietnam, with a particular focus on the growing innovation and technology sector.

 Launched in 2005, the Foundation's Leadership Network now numbers over 430 talented young leaders, with members living in New Zealand, Asia and around the world.  

Network members come from diverse backgrounds and professions, including business, science, medicine, media and aid organisations. Notably, for many Asia has played a significant role in their educational, professional, or personal journeys. 

The Hanoi Hui will provide participants with firsthand experience in Vietnam through briefings, meetings, field visits, cultural activities and leadership-building exercises. 

The Foundation’s deputy chief executive Adele Mason says the network is designed to foster a group of motivated young people with an interest in advancing New Zealand’s links with Asia. 

"We expect this hui to significantly enhance their knowledge and confidence when engaging with Asia," adds Mason. "Participants will gain up-to-date experience of Vietnam in a post-pandemic environment." 

Vietnam is a significant strategic partner for New Zealand in Southeast Asia with a strong diplomatic relationship dating back to 1975. The hui aims to highlight these connections and offer insights into Vietnam’s diverse culture and developing economy. 

Foundation Trustee Mitchell Pham will join the group in Vietnam and share his expertise and insights with the group. Pham, a Vietnamese-New Zealander, is a successful technology entrepreneur and social advocate. 

The trip is taking place between 20 and 27 April 2024.    

The Hanoi Hui participants are: 

Aditya Edekar is a University of Auckland alumni with a background in finance and accounting, transitioned to a successful cricket career before becoming CEO at Media Gurus New Zealand, where he drives business growth and supports startups while passionately nurturing innovative ideas. 

Ben O’Brien embarked on his professional journey in Ho Chi Minh City over 10 years ago with an internship and is now a qualified lawyer and chartered accountant. He is working in Hanoi as a consultant for an aviation recruitment company. 

Byron Sanders is the manager of Integrated Operations and Insights in Otago and Southland for the Ministry of Education. He has diverse experience as a primary school teacher, child psychologist and over eight years with the Ministry of Education and is a former chairperson of the Asia New Zealand Foundation’s leadership network. 

Daryn Govender is a corporate strategy manager at the Bank of New Zealand. He holds degrees in civil engineering and commerce from the University of Auckland and completed a Foundation internship at KPMG Vietnam in 2017. 

Emily Fan is an associate at the Boston Consulting Group specialising in energy transition, including work with IKEA and the United Nations. She has received awards such as the Zonta Young Women in Public Affairs and being named one of New Zealand's top influential women under 25. 

Ethan Laby is a management accountant at PGG Wrightson Seeds in Christchurch and a chartered accountant through CAANZ. His passion for Asia was ignited by his experience working at a children’s orphanage in Thailand through the Prime Minister’s Scholarship for Asia and furthered by his three-month internship at KPMG Vietnam through the Asia New Zealand Foundation internship programme. 

Jack Keeys intertwines business, science and technology to drive sustainability and innovation, notably in agriculture and food systems. He is active in mentoring and Rotary International, and he serves as president of the IFAMA International Young Board. Jack recently relocated to Toulouse, France, to embark on a new chapter in his career.

Jessica Chong is a dedicated senior technologist in Aotearoa’s food and beverage sector, chairs the Auckland branch of the New Zealand Institute of Food Science & Technology and serves on the Board of Directors for NZIFST, advocating fervently for industry engagement and diversity.  

Lucy Coghill is a senior policy officer at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade focusing on the Samoa desk. She has extensive experience including postings in Beijing, Canberra, and Taipei, where she studied Mandarin Chinese. Lucy is passionate about fostering bilateral, commercial and people-to-people relations with Vietnam. 

Peter McKenzie is a New Zealand journalist acclaimed for his coverage of the Pacific, including contributions to The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Guardian. In 2003, he was recognised as Reporter of the Year at the 2023 New Zealand Voyager Media Awards. He has also served as a judge’s clerk in the New Zealand High Court and as an infantry officer in the New Zealand Army Reserve. 

Rāniera Kaio is the general manager culture and people for Te Rūnanga o Whangaroa in Te Taitokerau. He holds director positions on various iwi governance and asset management boards. Rāniera aims to foster cultural understanding between Māori and Asia, drawing on longstanding personal connections, notably with China, and his involvement in the leadership network since 2017.  

Sam Fellows is the general counsel at Tauranga City Council with a diverse background in law, sports, governance and sustainability. He is credited for leading the implementation of a city-wide waste and recycling scheme. He previously managed sustainability and waste and balances his council role with directorships in sports, non-profit organisations and small businesses, alongside lecturing at university and refereeing rugby matches on weekends. 

Sinead Watson is head of community at Excellent and a global workplace innovator with a master's in health psychology. She leads employee experience (EX) design and contributes to the Global EX Council, leveraging her diverse background in startups, universities and government to excel in human-centered design and drive sustainable business scaling. 

Tim Marshall is an experienced commercial analyst with a startup and international business background. He transitioned from student leadership to research and internships in Asia before joining Air New Zealand's Asia commercial team, where he covers all Asia markets and joint ventures.  

For more information, contact:       
Graeme Acton   
Manager, Asia Media Centre