Mitchell Pham is a leader now synonymous with the growth of New Zealand’s tech sector, and he’s about to be awarded the Kea World Class New Zealand Award.
Pham, who is co-founder of the Kiwi Connection Tech Hub, NZTech chair, Augen Software Group director, and chair of FinTechNZ, will be recognised for his contribution to the tech sector and NZ-Asia relations tomorrow night.
NZTech chief Graeme Muller has taken the time to reflect on Pham’s passion and contribution to New Zealand’s fastest-growing sector.
Pham escaped 1980s Vietnam and several refugee camps in Indonesia before settling in New Zealand when he was 13 years old. Now, he is one of New Zealand’s top tech entrepreneurs.
“I feel honoured to win the World Class New Zealand award and would really like to see New Zealand technology promoted to the world as vigorously as we have made a huge effort over the past 20 years to globally feature tourism in this country,” Pham says.
He notes that Kiwi tech businesses are looking to Asia to grab opportunities across the consumer, commercial, agricultural, industrial, and government sectors.
But there is often resistance from Asian businesses because they don’t know about New Zealand’s tech ingenuity – something Pham finds frustrating.
“New Zealand has invested heavily in promoting education and tourism for decades, which is why we are so well known in Asia for these industries. It's time we make an ongoing investment into promoting our fastest growing sector of our economy. The sooner the better, as it will take time to build brand association between NZ and high-tech nation,” Pham continues.
Muller adds that the tech industry is now New Zealand’s third largest export sector, with overseas earnings netting $7 billion.
“Our entire country is now starting to build a reputation as being high tech. This is supported by the success of many of our world class New Zealanders including Greg Cross, Sir Ray Avery, Craig Nevil-Manning, Leigh Flounders, Gavin Lennox and Pham,” Muller says.
Muller reflects on the recent Upstarters campaign, organised by NZTech and NZTE and launched by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
“The UpStarters story was created to form a compelling, consistent and coherent way of sharing New Zealand’s tech and innovation capabilities internationally. Over time, this story will help build New Zealand’s reputation as a credible source of world-class innovation and technology solutions.”
“UpStarters has been designed to help New Zealand firms explain how they come from a country with a history of innovation, and to stand on the shoulders of those that have come before them - such as splitting the atom, inventing the electric fence and the plastic syringe,” Muller concludes.