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Former Vietnam refugee embraces 'most important opportunity' as NZTech chair

27 Oct 2016

NZTech is welcoming a former Vietnamese refugee to its ranks, as Mitchell Pham takes over as chair from Bennett Medary.

Pham, who escaped Vietnam as a 13-year-old in 1985, will be taking over NZTech governance at what the company says is a 'crucial stage' for New Zealand technology.

“This is the most important opportunity that I have been given to make a difference since New Zealand accepted me as a refugee from Vietnam in 1985 so I am not taking on this role lightly. NZTech is a national umbrella organisation that represents more than 400 tech firms and it is an exciting time of opportunity not just the technology sector but for our entire economy, domestically and internationally," Pham says.

Pham says that he and deputy chair Rachel Kelly are looking forward to working with NZTech members, including Graeme Muller, as well as partners, industry sectors and the economy to advance New Zealand's technological expertise on a global scale.

“From our Digital Nation report research, we recognise that technology doesn’t just make up a significant and fast-growing part of our economy, but pervades right across it, and impacts on not just productivity but also growth, advancement and internationalisation of all other sectors. As such, we need to increase the level of engagement between technology and the rest of the economy," Pham says.

He highlights the fact that New Zealand's tech sector is not well connected outside the main centres, and that will be a crucial development area.

“Being a small economy, many of our tech businesses innovate for the global market. It is vital that we continue working to increase and expand our connection with the rest of the world. Technology has traditionally been lacking as part of the Kiwi story that we have been projecting to the world, especially in but not limited to regions such as Asia, where large local and regional digital economies and technology consumption appetite have been growing exponentially in recent years," he says.

Pham also believes that the increasing internationalisation and growing those connections will bring a wealth of new opportunities, including new markets, customers, capital and talent.

Deputy chair Rachel Kelly aims to change understanding of technology and its importance.

“It is critically integrated and leveraged through everyday company operations and services. As we begin to accept tech as a broader tool, companies that had never thought themselves tech will realise they play a critical part of the ecosystem," she says.

"For a stronger NZ Technology sector and NZ Inc, we need to acknowledge the importance of regional collaboration and communication. Some of the best start-up ideas began in a garage and there are plenty of garages outside major cities. Assisting visibility platforms through events such as national Techweek next year will help our nation understand how important technology is to our future economy,” she concludes.

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