Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search


HumanWare appoints new CEO

Press Release

HumanWare appoints new CEO

Christchurch, New Zealand, 3rd March 2006

For immediate release

HumanWare, the Christchurch based company that makes information access products for blind, visually impaired and learning disabled customers, today announced the appointment of Dr Richard Mander as its new CEO following the death of Dr Russell Smith and his wife Marian in a plane crash in August last year.

Dr Mander is a New Zealander with a strong background in technology, research and product development. He has a particular interest in the human interface with technology.

Dr Mander worked for 14 years in the United States, including seven years at Apple Computer. After leaving Apple, Dr Mander spent seven years as a consultant advising technology companies on customer-centred product design and methods for improving product development. He has advised New Zealand companies on these matters and in 2004 received the World Class New Zealander Award from New Zealand Trade and Enterprise. This is an annual award for expat New Zealanders who make an outstanding contribution to New Zealand’s economic development.

Dr Mander returned to New Zealand in 2004 and was appointed as Chief Technology Officer at Navman.

Dr Mander has a Ph.D in educational psychology from Stanford University in the United States. He is married with four children and lives in Christchurch.

“We are very pleased to be able to appoint a person of the calibre of Dr Mander”, said Tim Robinson, Chairman of the board of HumanWare. “His experience in research and development and understanding of how products can be better designed to meet customers’ needs will be invaluable for HumanWare.”

Dr Mander said, “I am very excited about this opportunity and the challenges that lie ahead. HumanWare has some clever technology and great products. I am looking forward to working with the team there to take the company to the next stage of its development.”

Gilles Pepin, the CEO of HumanWare Canada, has been Acting CEO of the group since the death of Dr Smith. Mr Robinson said that, while HumanWare has a significant presence in Canada and is a global business, Christchurch is still the centre for much of its research and product development and the board wishes to retain the head office of the company in Christchurch. Mr Pepin had advised the board that for family reasons he is unable to relocate to Christchurch.

“Gilles has done an outstanding job as Acting CEO over the last six months,” said Mr Robinson. “He has successfully led the company through a difficult period following Russell’s death. We are indebted to Gilles and on behalf of the board I express our thanks to him. Gilles will continue to play a major part in the further development and growth of HumanWare through his role in Canada and as a director of the company.”


Background – Richard Mander

Richard Mander earned a B.A. at the University of Canterbury, M. A. (Hons.) at the University of Auckland, and a Ph.D. at Stanford University.

He worked for seven years in Apple Computer's Advanced Technology and Interactive Media Groups where he developed methods for customer centred product design and rapid product development.

Richard holds patents in interface design, published papers on user interface design, and has conducted workshops on customer centred design process.

Over the last 15 years, Richard has gained experience with the business and technology of companies in a range of sectors including: Healthcare, Banking, Finance, Consumer electronics, Medical, Computer, Publishing, Telecommunications, and Research.

Richard has a reputation for making products highly acceptable to customers. His work covers a lot more than simply designing products - it's also about how to get the product built, how to make it a success for customers - not just making it a good design.

Work History/ Experience

Zanzara (November 2005) Principal

Richard resumed his consulting work at Zanzara.

Navman (2004-2005) Chief Technology Officer

Zanzara, Inc (1997-2004) Principal

Richard is a principal of Zanzara, Inc (, a consulting company that helps clients reduce development time and increase product sales by tightly targeting their product development efforts to meet core needs of specific user constituencies. Zanzara's clients have included:

IBM, Apple, and Sun in computers.

Microsoft, Adobe, Symantec and Siebel in software.

AT&T and Sprint in communications.

Boeing, Motorola, Xerox, Kodak, Microsoft WebTV, Flashpoint, Palm and Foveon in devices and manufacturing.

AOL, Netscape, Yahoo, Charles Schwab, Magical Desk and Openwave among online companies.
George Lucas Educational Foundation, Group Health Cooperative, Northwest Ecosystems Alliance among non-profits

Startups have included Ask Jeeves, Driveway, Flashpoint, Foveon, Magical Desk, Pivia, and Time Dance.

Projects have included:

PDAs, digital cameras, mobile phones, personal computers, websites, web applications, application programs, medical devices, intelligent agents, Internet search, hand writing recognition, and speech recognition.

AdessoSoft, Inc (1997-99) Founder/President

Richard founded this company with three colleagues who worked with him at Apple (a senior engineer, marketer, and computer vision scientist) to develop image manipulation tools. Richard undertook customer research and proof of concept technology demonstrations for:

Rotoscoping film and video using QuickTime within Photoshop's plugin architecture.

Stitching together digital images in-camera using Flashpoint's Digita OS plugin architecture.

Developed and shipped 'PanoTouch' a Photoshop plugin allowing cylindrical panoramic images to be imported to Photoshop, where they could be retouched, then exported back into the cylindrical image.

Apple Computer, Inc (1995-97) Program Manager

Part of original six-member team that developed QuickTime VR, a cross-platform photographic virtual reality system. MacUser Magazine cited QuickTime VR as 'Breakthrough technology 1994'. DRI for QuickTime VR program from 1.0 to 2.0 - SDK, API, cross platform runtime, authoring tools (QuickTime VR Authoring Studio), and technology for QuickTime VR 3.0. Strategically moved technology into QuickTime 3.0. Developed external relationships. Grew integrated group from 10 to 35 people over one year to include Engineering, Quality Assurance, Science/research, and Human Interface teams.

DRI for Interactive Media Group websites.

Company wide task force for Apple New Product Process, Advanced Technology Group Direction.

Apple Computer, Inc (1990-95) Senior Usability Engineer, Advanced Technology Group

User studies, customer visits, workshops, participatory design, rapid prototyping, user testing and interface design on the following projects:

Sybil - Desktop computer for year 2000 - plain paper and tool metaphor, stylus, touch, gesture, speech recognition, high bandwidth network, video conferencing, large flat screen display, and peripheral devices (camera, PDAs, etc).

Ansel - Digital camera with touch screen and stylus input, review/preview modes, docking with desktop computers.

Sweetpea - Complete OS design for portable CD-ROM hypermedia player with stylus and touch screen interface, PCMCIA/CD media. Extensive customer research.

Magic Wand - Remote control interfaces for high-end consumer interactive television.

Starfish - Software and hardware interface for integrated LCD projector display device - remote controls, projector hardware controls, firmware driven on-screen control panels, and Macintosh Windows host software. Developed advanced prototyping methods and developed customer centered approach to human interface design.

QuickTime VR - Runtime interface for immersive photographic virtual reality system.


Stanford University Ph.D. Educational Psychology (1997). Dissertation 'Spatial ability, latency, and accuracy of performance in computerized three-dimensional object manipulation'.

University of Auckland, M.A. First class honors, Educational Psychology (1987). Thesis 'Personal computers and process writing: a written language intervention for deaf children'. Habens Prize (1985) for highest grades in Education Dept graduate classes. New Zealand University Grants Committee postgraduate scholarship.

University of Canterbury, B.A. Educational Psychology (1983).

Christchurch Teacher's College, Teaching Diploma (1981).


Family, Sailing, Skiing, Youth coaching, Art and Film.

© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


CO2 And Water: Fonterra's Environment Plans

Federated Farmers support Fonterra’s bold push to get to zero emissions of CO2 on the manufacturing side of the Co-operative, both in New Zealand and across its global network. More>>


Fisheries: Decision To Delay Monitoring ‘Fatally Flawed’

Conservation group representatives say a decision by the new Minister of Fisheries, Stuart Nash, to delay implementation of camera monitoring of fishing efforts in New Zealand is ‘fatally flawed’. More>>


Kaikōura Quakes: One Year On

State Highway One and the railway were blocked by damage and slips and the Inland Road suffered significant damage. Farms, homes and businesses suffered building and land damage. Power and internet went down, drinking water systems, sewage systems and local roads were all badly affected... More>>