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Speaker bios

in alphabetical order

Jacinda Ardern

Since being elected Prime Minister of New Zealand in 2017, Jacinda Ardern has placed wellbeing at heart of her Government’s work. Along with holding the Child Poverty Reduction portfolio, she has championed efforts to tackle long-term challenges like climate change, social inequality, and housing unaffordability. She entered Parliament in 2008 as a list MP, and was later elected to represent the Mount Albert electorate. During this time, she was responsible for a wide range of policy areas, including Social Development, Arts, Culture and Heritage, Children, Justice, and Small Business. Throughout her career, she has been a strong advocate for children, women, and the right to meaningful work.

Raelene Castle

Raelene is the Group Chief Executive of Sport New Zealand and High Performance Sport New Zealand. She joined the organisation at the end of 2020 after seven years in Australia. There she held Chief Executive roles at Rugby Australia and Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs Rugby League Club. Raelene was honoured for her contribution to business and sport in 2015 with an ONZM.


Greg Foran

Greg Foran started as Chief Executive Officer of Air New Zealand on 3 February 2020. He has since been navigating the airline through the difficulties of the Covid-19 pandemic, with a plan for Air New Zealand to survive, revive and then thrive. He is also a member of the China Business Council.

Greg joined the airline from Walmart U.S where he was Chief Executive Officer from 2014 to 2019.  He was responsible for the strategic direction and performance of the company’s 4,600 stores and more than 1 million staff. In 2019, Walmart U.S. served more than 140 million customers a week and had revenues of $307 billion.

Greg joined Walmart International in 2011 and served in several capacities, including President and Chief Executive Officer of Walmart China. Prior to joining Walmart International he held several senior positions with Woolworths, the leading retailer in Australia and New Zealand. 

Greg has attended Advanced Management Programs at Harvard University and the University of Virginia. He also holds a Diploma in Management from the New Zealand Institute of Management.


Alexia Hilbertidou

Described by the NZ Herald as the Headmistress of Gen Z,  Alexia is the founder of GirlBoss NZ - NZ's largest organisation for young women. Founded when Alexia was just 16, GirlBoss now has 13 and a half thousand members. 

Alexia’s mission is to get women to the table - the boardroom table that is, and she believes the decisions made while young are crucial in paving the way.

Alexia has received over 30 awards for her work, including being named Pacific Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Semi-Finalist for Young New Zealander of the Year, the Most Influential NZ Woman under 25 at the Westpac Women of Influence Award, Forbes 30 under 30, a National Geographic Explorer, and Finalist for World Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

Alexia was also awarded a Queen's Young Leader Award for Services to the Commonwealth by Her Majesty, The Queen, at Buckingham Palace. She was selected from over 20,000 nominations and is the youngest Commonwealth Citizen to hold this honour.

Through her jaw-dropping stories, Alexia proves that you are never too young (or too short) to create change.

Dr Lucy Hone

Dr Lucy Hone is an Adjunct Senior Professor at the University of Canterbury, a co-director of the New Zealand Institute of Wellbeing & Resilience, an award winning academic researcher, best-selling author and blogger for Psychology Today.

Having been trained by the thought-leaders in resilience at the University of Pennsylvania, Lucy went on to attain her PhD at AUT. She now assists organisations globally – from the UN and government agencies, to Fortune 100 companies and schools – distilling the best of resilience science into actionable tools.

Her research has been published in leading academic journals and her TED talk went viral during the Covid pandemic, putting it in the Top 20 of 2020 and the most watched by any New Zealander.

She says, “if all your mindfulness apps, yoga retreats, and gratitude practices aren’t working, you need a better understanding of resilience!”


Miles Hurrell

Miles was appointed Chief Executive in 2019. He is responsible for leading the organisation, delivering strategy and financial performance, and engaging with our farmer owners, employees, customers and shareholders. 

As Chief Executive, Miles has led the Co-operative through strategic reviews into a new growth phase focused on New Zealand’s pasture-based milk, dairy innovation and science and sustainability. 

Previously, Miles held the role of Chief Operating Officer, Farm Source, with responsibility for farmer services and engagement, milk sourcing and the operation of New Zealand’s 70 Farm Source™ retail stores. 

Miles has also held a number of leadership roles across our Co-operative, including Group Co-operative Affairs Director and General Manager Middle East, Africa, Russia and Eastern Europe where he led a period of sustained growth across the region. Earlier in his career, Miles worked as the General Manager of Global Sourcing and oversaw the streamlining of our Co-operative’s European operations. 

Rangimarie Hunia

Rangimarie Hunia was appointed an alternate director of Te Ohu Kaimoana at the beginning of 2015 before being appointed a full director in November 2015, and Chair in July 2019. The first wahine Chair in the history of Te Ohu Kaimoana. In December 2021 she was appointed a Director of Moana New Zealand.

From 2016 to September 2022, Rangimarie was Chief Executive of Ngāti Whātua Ōrakei Whai Māia. Whai Māia is responsible for the well-being of its 5,000 tribal members and focuses on education, health, employment and environmental areas.

She played an active role as a member of the Iwi Working Group that was established to facilitate understanding and iwi decision making in response to the 11-year Review of Māori Fisheries Settlement entities. Rangimarie is also a member of Global Women and was a finalist in the Westpac Women of Influence Awards 2014.


Christopher Luxon

Christopher Luxon is the Leader of the Opposition and the MP for Botany. He entered Parliament at the 2020 election and was elected Leader of the National Party in November 2021.

Prior to entering Parliament, Christopher was Chief Executive Officer of Air New Zealand from 2013 to 2019. Under his leadership the airline delivered record profits and all time high customer satisfaction scores, and achieved its highest levels of staff engagement.

In addition Air New Zealand won numerous accolades, including several celebrating it as the best airline in the world and others recognising its commitment to key areas such as sustainability, innovation, corporate reputation, employee engagement and customer experience. During Christopher’s tenure, the company held the No. 1 Corporate Reputation & Trust Company in New Zealand 2015–2019 and No. 1 Corporate Reputation & Trust Company in Australia 2017–2019.

Prior to joining Air New Zealand, Christopher was President and Chief Executive Officer at Unilever Canada. This was one of several senior leadership roles he held during an 18 year career at the multinational that saw him work in roles in Europe, North America and Asia–Pacific. Christopher has a Master of Commerce in Business Administration from the University of Canterbury.

Christopher served as the inaugural Chair of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s Business Advisory Council and has received wide recognition for his leadership including a Blake Leader Award, Deloitte CEO of the Year, Orient Aviation Person of the Year, and Deloitte Company of the Year.

Catherine McGrath

Catherine was appointed Chief Executive Officer and Director of Westpac New Zealand in November 2021. She has more than 25 years’ experience working in financial services and prior to joining Westpac, Catherine led large-scale transformations at some of the world’s best known banks including Barclays Group and Lloyds TSB in the UK. Earlier in her career she worked at BNZ, ASB and the Prudential Group. Catherine was raised in New Zealand. She graduated from Canterbury University with a Bachelor of Law and a Bachelor of Commerce.

Sophie Moloney 

Sophie Moloney is an accomplished New Zealand media leader. She joined Sky UK’s commercial legal team in 2003 and subsequently undertook a range of legal and commercial secondment roles in the Middle East with Sky News Arabia, Abu Dhabi Media, and OSN. During this time she also held a range of executive directorships. 

Sophie returned to New Zealand with her family in 2018 to take up the role of General Counsel at Sky New Zealand, following which she enjoyed additional roles of Chief Legal, People and Partnerships Officer and Chief Commercial Officer before being was appointed as Chief Executive Officer in December 2020. 

Sophie has a deep love of sport, arts and culture. With an All Black grandfather and growing up surrounded by, and participating in, sports and the arts, she has a deep appreciation for the important role that entertainment and sport plays in New Zealand communities. Sophie is also passionate about leadership and development, particularly supporting young women leaders in the business. 


Ngapera Riley

Ngapera believes everybody should have access to good information, and that knowing how to find and use data is vital to solving our country’s biggest problems. She cares about everyone being able to take part in that, so we can collectively work towards a better future for Aotearoa.

Ngapera currently leads Figure.NZ, a charity that builds scalable technology to help democratise NZ’s public data and develops data literacy programs for charities and NGOs. In 2020 Ngapera helped launch a world-first Maori data platform, and has also versions of this to help open Pacific data, disability data and data for rangatahi (youth) in Aotearoa.

Ngapera works closely with Māori and Pacific business and education efforts across New Zealand. She currently holds board positions with the Simplicity Trust, InZone Education Foundation, supporting Maori and Pacific leaders into top New Zealand schools, Hyundai’s Pinnacle Programme alongside Sir Graeme Henry, helping advance talented NZers, and Te Ohu Whai Ao Trust, which connects Maori and indigenous business efforts from around the world.

She is also part of the working group Te Pokapu for the Maori Data Sovereignty Network advocating for Maori rights and interests in data, and has recently joined the working group, Tatauranga Umanga Maori for Stats NZ. #DataGeeksUnite

Formerly the Global Director of the World Class New Zealand Network for Kea, (Kiwi Expats Association)  Ngapera has also worked for New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, Ministry of Health, and the University of Auckland and MIT.

In her spare time LOL! Ngapera is a professional Motown vocalist, loves social media, cooking, gardening and spending time with her adopted dog Molly, and spending time with her massive extended Maori and Pacific family.

Hon Grant Robertson 

Minister of Finance, Minister for Infrastructure, Minister for Racing, Minister for Sport and Recreation MP for Wellington Central 

Grant Robertson was born in Palmerston North and lived in Hastings before his family settled in Dunedin. 

He studied politics at Otago, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in 1995. At university he was the President of the Otago University Students Association and became Co-President of the New Zealand University Students Association. 

Grant joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in 1997 where he managed the New Zealand Overseas Aid Programme to Samoa. He was then posted to the United Nations in New York, working on global environment and development issues. 

On his return to New Zealand, Grant became an advisor to former Prime Minister Helen Clark. Following this, he took a business development role with the University of Otago, working with researchers, investors and businesses to develop and commercialise the university’s world-leading research. 

Grant’s belief in social justice and a desire to see every New Zealander achieve their potential led him to politics, and he has been the Member of Parliament for Wellington Central since November 2008. In Opposition, Grant held a range of portfolios, including Finance from 2014 to 2017. 

After the 2017 election, Grant was appointed Minister of Finance, Minister for Sport and Recreation, and Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage. Additionally, in June 2019 he was appointed as the Minister Responsible for the Earthquake Commission. 

After the 2020 election, Grant became Deputy Prime Minister and retained the Finance and Sport and Recreation portfolios. He was also appointed Minister for Infrastructure and Minister for Racing. 

He met his partner Alf in 1998 playing rugby and their family now includes four grandchildren. In 2009 they were joined in a civil union. 

Commodore Melissa Ross

Commodore Melissa Ross is currently the Deputy Chief of the Navy. Joining the Royal New Zealand in 1993 as a Marine Engineering Officer, Commodore Ross has served in HMNZ Ships Manawanui, Southland, Waikato, Wellington, Te Kaha and the Logistics Ship, Canterbury. Operationally, Commodore Ross has deployed to the Arabian Gulf, Timor Leste and Israel/Lebanon.

Commodore Ross has held a number of staff positions prior to her current position in both Headquarters Joint Forces New Zealand and Defence Headquarters. She is of Ngā Puhi descent and grew up under the Maunga Pūtauaki in Kawerau.

Vittoria Shortt

Vittoria has been the CEO of ASB Bank since February 2018, leading a team of more than 5,900 people focused on accelerating the financial future of all New Zealanders to support a more resilient and sustainable New Zealand.

With 20 years’ experience in Banking in Australia and New Zealand, Vittoria’s career began in corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions with Deloitte and Carter Holt Harvey after graduating from Waikato University with a Bachelor of Management Studies, majoring in Accounting and Finance.

Vittoria is currently Chair of the New Zealand Bankers’ Association. She is also a member of Global Women in New Zealand and Chief Executive Women in Australia.

Prof Paul Spoonley

Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley was, until 2019, Pro Vice-Chancellor at Massey University. He is the author or editor of 28 books, the most recent being The New New Zealand. Facing demographic disruption (2021). He was a Programme Leader of a research programme on the impacts of immigration and diversity on Aotearoa New Zealand (2014–2021). He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 2011 and was a Fulbright Senior Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, in 2010. He is on the Board of the Auckland Museum and is a Research Affiliate of Koi Tū: The Centre for Informed Futures at the University of Auckland. He is Chair of Metropolis International.

Ross Taylor

Ross Taylor has been CEO of Fletcher Building since November 2017. Fletcher Building is a significant manufacturer, retailer, home builder and partner on major construction and infrastructure projects. Spanning the full value chain, the company operates diversified businesses across its core markets of New Zealand and Australia, from resource extraction, product manufacturing and distribution through to property development and infrastructure construction.

Mr. Taylor’s career spans the Real Estate, Construction, Engineering and Building Products sectors. He has direct experience across much of the sector value chain, having led businesses with activities in investment, development, construction, product manufacturing, and resources extraction and operations. He has lived and worked extensively across New Zealand, Australia, Asia, Europe and the USA.

Nicola Willis

Nicola Willis is a List MP based in Wellington, having entered Parliament in April 2018, and being re-elected in October 2020. She is currently National’s Deputy Leader, Spokesperson for Finance, and Social Investment. She is a member of Parliament’s Finance and Expenditure Select Committee and  the Intelligence and Security Select Committee, and has previously served on the Environment Select Committee, the Education and Workforce Select Committee, and the Regulations Review Select Committee.

Prior to becoming an MP Nicola held a number of senior management roles at New Zealand dairy co-operative Fonterra, and served on the boards of Export NZ and policy think-tank the New Zealand Initiative.

Nicola was a senior advisor to Prime Minister John Key during his first term in Government, having been a member of his winning 2008 campaign team, a senior advisor during his time as Leader of the Opposition and a researcher for then opposition education spokesperson Bill English.

Nicola is a proud graduate of Victoria University of Wellington with a first-class honours degree in English literature. She was a successful university debater, captaining teams and competing around the world. She grew up in Wellington, and today she lives there with her husband Duncan and their four children aged 7, 9, 11, 12.

Raelene Castle
Greg Foran
Dr Lucy Hone
Miles Hurrell
Christopher Luxon
Catherine McGrath
Sophie Moloney
Ngapera Riey
Hon Grant Robertson
Commodore Melissa Ross
Vittoria Shortt
Ross Taylor
Nicola Willis
Rangimarie Hunia
Alexia Hilbertidou
Jacinda Ardern
Paul Spoonley
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