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Thrive Wellington - Speaker Profiles

19 August 2004, Westpac St JamesTheatre

Speaker Profiles

Graham Lowe, Rugby League Coach and Author:

Graham Lowe has forged a reputation that transcends his position as a football coach and rugby league icon. He is admired for his honesty, integrity and loyalty to this country; and he enjoys enormous respect for his achievements as a coach in the toughest rugby league competitions in the world. This latter aspect of Graham's ability has captured the attention of many in the New Zealand business community.

They readily recognise the parallels between business and sport, and understand there are many lessons for the corporate world to learn from top sporting endeavour.

Many would value the opportunity to learn how a down-to-earth Kiwi, armed with the attributes of energy, dedication and innovation, reached the top in such a competitive world. Graham's personal tribulations have added a further dimension to his remarkable story. The major health problems Graham has suffered, and the way he has dealt with them, have stamped him as a special individual at a personal and emotional level.

Graham incorporates aspects of both personal and professional experiences into his presentations. They reflect the very nature of this man – hard-hitting, down-to-earth, yet compassionate, realistic and results driven. Relevant messages for people involved with people!

Sam Morgan, Entrepreneur, Trade Me:

Sam Morgan took a simple e-business idea and turned it into a reality. His auction site,, has grown from a simple project on his father's laptop to a vast enterprise that services nearly a million traders every month. Trade Me has grown over 1000% in the past year, making it this nation's second-fastest growing company. There has been little to no advertising; the growth has been almost exclusively thanks to word of mouth, and a brilliant product idea.

At only 28 years of age, Morgan is a sterling example of a successful Kiwi entrepreneur.

Lindah Lepou, Pacific Designer:

Lindah Lepou is an individual excelling in the fashion and music industries. She is an award winning fashion designer who has worked on international projects for Robert Labertta, Creative Director of “Sebastian Intl”, whose clients include Mick Jagger and Paula Abdul. Lindah has her own womenswear label, “denciumcompri” based in Auckland and is setting up her own website where people worldwide can gather to discuss a range of issues. She has been offered a record deal with International producer, Alan Jannson (“How Bizarre”, Pauly Fuemana and “In the Neighbourhood”, Sisters Underground) and has been travelling internationally with the “Pasifika Divas”.

Michael (Mikee) Tucker, Loop Recordings Aot(ear)oa:

Michael (Mikee) Tucker, Loop Recordings Aot(ear)oa - Loop Recordings Aot(ear)oa are the driving force behind the Urban Music Collective; The Black Seeds; Fat Freddy's Drop; Trinity Roots; Twinset; and Rhian Sheehan.

Emily Loughnan, Director, Click Suite

As the director of innovative media solutions experts Click Suite, Emily has helped a wide range of New Zealand's largest organisations with complex technical difficulties. Their work has won awards from around the world, including numerous Interactive New Zealand ICON Awards and three medals in the New York Festival's new media competition.

John Barnett, Producer, ‘Whale Rider’

John Barnett first read the novel called ‘Whale Rider’ a decade ago. Since then he has driven it from page to screen, receiving accolades from the world’s brightest critics in the process. John has produced numerous New Zealand classics including ‘Jubilee’, ‘Middle Age Spread’, ‘Footrot Flats’ and ‘What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?’ John’s myriad achievements include founding New Zealand’s industry magazine, ‘OnFilm’, developing multiplex cinemas and co-owning New Zealand’s largest film and TV production company. John also established Sundance Channel (NZ), the first Sundance affiliated channel outside the US. He was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2003 Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to the film industry.

John Shewan, Chair, PricewaterhouseCoopers New Zealand:

As Chairman for PricewaterhouseCoopers New Zealand, John Shewan rides the wave of knowledge when it comes to tax policy and practice. He joined the Firm in 1978 and was admitted as a Partner in 1984, and is responsible for the Firm's overall market position, governance and Partnership matters. John is a regular media commentator on tax policy and practice. From 1988 to 1998 he chaired the Government's Tax Education Office. He is currently Chair of the Government's Private Sector Research & Development Liaison Group, and is extensively involved in tax policy reforms. In his client-servicing role at PricewaterhouseCoopers, John advises a number of New Zealand-based
and multinational corporates, with a particular focus on trans-Tasman tax. His experience also encompasses banks, insurance companies, the electricity industry and government agencies.

Tony Marks, CEO, Pacific Blue:

Tony Marks came to New Zealand in 1978 with an honours degree from Harvard, the associated "all American soccer player" extracurricular experience, and 10 years history in the food industry principally with Kraft in both the UK and Venezuela.

He subsequently worked for Alex Harvey Industries / Carter Holt Harvey and Carters Building Supplies in general management positions. His current role as the first CEO of Pacific Blue Airlines, a sister company and wholly owned subsidiary of Virgin Blue Australia, had its origins in his experience with Air New Zealand.

As GM Sales and Marketing for Air New Zealand, he oversaw the creation of the Airpoints loyalty scheme, Asian and USA route development, and the alliance strategy which resulted in membership of the Star Alliance network.

Tony was recently CEO of Zespri during an exciting period that saw the introduction of the Gold kiwifruit variety and establishment of contract growing in Europe and the US.

Murray Thom:

Murray Thom left school at 15 with no qualifications. By the age of 23 he
was Managing Director of CBS Records New Zealand, the youngest Managing Director of that group in the world. With a strong desire to be self-employedhe left the corporate life to strike out on his own. He won the government tender in 1987 to introduce personalised number plates in New Zealand.In 1997 he sold that company to return to his real passion - the music business. Oprah Winfrey named his most recent production, the 'Together' 10 CD Collection, her ‘Favorite Thing’ of the year. Murray was recently namedas one of the Top 10 Entrepreneurs of the Decade.

Dave Dobbyn:

Dave Dobbyn is regarded as a national icon in New Zealand. After 25 years as a musician and songwriter, Dobbyn was awarded the lifetime achievement award by the New Zealand recording industry. Instead of a speech, the managing director of Sony New Zealand just read out a list of song titles. These were songs written by Dobbyn that had moved people throughout the country right from childhood. Dobbyn is an integral part of NZ music - he has made a business out of his passion and is regarded as one of the leading contributors to the growth and popularity of kiwi music at home and abroad.

Raybon Kan, Master of Ceremonies:

Raybon is one of New Zealand's highest-profile comedians and a true multimedia star. He has appeared on television (appearing in many shows, including Pulp Comedy, 60 Minutes, and as a film reviewer for TV3's Nightline), radio (a weekly show on Newstalk ZB), film (I'll Make You Happy, Spooked and the upcoming Tongan Ninja); print and much, much more.

On top of that, he is also a lawyer (graduated with honours from Victoria University) and one of the smartest people in the country according to last year's Test the Nation. He also recently released his third book (An Asian at My Table) and will be touring the country later this year with a stage show.

Raybon will chair Thrive Wellington with his typical wit and humour. Edgy, entertaining and insightful, Raybon is the perfect choice to host this conference.

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