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Workshop 4

The Big Debate: Will Future Business Success be Derived More From the University of Life or From Academic Training?

7.30am - 9.30am, Wednesday 9 November 2011, Ballroom, Stamford Plaza, Auckland.

Valuable Advice from Workshop 4

New Zealand’s future wealth and security will be driven by the young business people now entering positions of influence. What are the key drivers of business success? Are they taught in an academic setting or are they learned from life?

  • Does academic training provide the necessary skills/platform for business success?
  • If not, where can business people learn the necessary skills?
  • With globalisation, is more academic training essential to increase business productivity?
  • How do we work smarter, not harder?
  • Is the only way to learn about business success (and failure) “on the job”?
  • Is there a gap between what is taught and what is necessary to succeed in business?
  • Do graduates receive a good return on their investment in education?

AFFIRMATIVE TEAM (arguing for the “University of Life”)

Sir Peter Maire
Tahia Investments

Peter is best known as the founder of Navman, a company involved in the development of marine navigation, car navigation, fleet tracking and GPS based products. Navman became one of NZ's fastest growing and largest technology companies with sales exceeding $450m and employing more than 850 staff globally. Navman was acquired by USA Brunswick Corp in 2005.

Today Peter is a technology company investor and is a shareholder and director of Rakon NZ Ltd, a board member of Orion Health NZ Ltd and the owner of Fusion Electronics (marine and automotive entertainment systems) and Fusion Transactive (retail technology systems for the petroleum industry).

Trevor Johnston
Chief Executive Officer, Taranaki Bio Extracts Ltd

After starting out as the office boy at a meat processing plant at the age of 17, Trevor worked his way up and was running the plant by the time he was 28. Trevor has 40 years management experience, including 10 years as Chief Executive Officer of Riverlands Limited, a company employing over 750 staff and turning over in excess of $300 million per year. Trevor is currently the CEO of Taranaki Bio Extracts Ltd, a food processing company which make edible extracts for domestic and international markets along with other technical and manufacturing grade feed stocks. Trevor is also a director of Port Taranaki and IcePak Limited.

Outside of work Trevor is chairman of the Taranaki CEO Forum which has created the Business & Education Partnership, has written a book on leadership in clubs, and regularly gives presentations to businesses, clubs and organisations on leadership and management. 

View the interview with Trevor Johnston & Sir Peter Maire of the Affirmative Team here.

THE NEGATIVE TEAM (arguing for academic training)

Dr. Sean Simpson
Chief Scientific Officer & Co-Founder of LanzaTech

Dr. Sean Simpson is Chief Scientific Officer and co-founder of LanzaTech where he has spent the last 6 years developing and commercialising a biotechnology-based process that will provide low cost, low carbon fuel and high value chemicals from industrial waste gases. Since its inception in 2005 the company has grown under Dr Simpson’s leadership to include scientists from around the world working together in New Zealand. Dr Simpson has encouraged the collaboration between biologists, fermentation specialists and engineers to develop the technology and the company to become a global leader in gas fermentation.

Dr Simpson has several years experience in bio-products development and through his career he has worked at Hoffmann La-Roche in Basel, Switzerland, at the Sandoz Forschungsinstitute, Vienna, Austria, and at the Japan International Research Centre for Agricultural Sciences, Tsukuba, Japan. Dr Simpson holds a PhD from York University, UK, and a Masters degree from Nottingham University. He is the author of over 20 publications and over 60 patents.

Derek McCormack
Trustee, AUT Foundation, Vice-Chancellor, AUT University

Derek was appointed Vice Chancellor of Auckland University of Technology in April 2004. He was previously a Deputy Vice Chancellor at AUT, and was General Manager for Auckland Institute of Technology (the precursor to AUT).

He has led a wide range of key areas during a decade and a half of extensive development and growth for the organisation - from major campus developments, to academic structures, processes and programmes, and the advancement of AUT’s university profile.

Derek started out teaching Biochemistry at the University of Otago and Otago Polytechnic, but his career quickly took an early turn into tertiary education policy and management. He has held national roles in a range of authorities, professional bodies, and ministerial and government working parties related to tertiary education, and is the current chair of the New Zealand Vice Chancellors’ Committee (NZVCC).

In other fields, Derek has been a Chair of the NZ Academy of Sport network, and is President of the NZ Stroke Foundation, as well as a member of various service and community clubs and societies.

View the interview with Dr Sean Simpson & Derek McCormack of the Negative Team here.