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2017 International Leadership Award recipients

Hon Nikki Kaye
Minister for Youth
23 August 2017

2017 International Leadership Award recipients

Four recipients of the 2017 Minister for Youth’s International Leadership Award were announced today by Youth Minister Nikki Kaye.

“This award supports outstanding young New Zealanders to access an international opportunity to develop their own leadership skills, and in turn support the development of other young people,” says Ms Kaye.

The 2017 award recipients are:

• April McLennan (Christchurch)

• Ashutosh Sharma (Auckland)

• Stephanie Benseman (Wellington)

• Rees Vinsen (Auckland).

“These are young people who’ve been recognised for their leadership, entrepreneurism and innovative thinking. They are talented young New Zealanders who have great vision, fortitude and a real sense of social responsibility,” says Ms Kaye.

“As part of the award, the recipients will travel to China from 16 to 23 September, where they will take part in the Follow the Footsteps of Rewi Alley Programme in Shenzhen.

“This programme will enable participants to take part in discussions on topics such as innovation, cultural creativity and social enterprise, and meet with leading Chinese technology companies to learn more about the latest innovations, trends and technology developments in China.

“In addition to the Rewi Alley programme, the award recipients will visit Shanghai to network and develop connections with Chinese and New Zealand entrepreneurs.

“China is one of our largest and most important trading partners, and this will contribute to growing the level of engagement and understanding between our two countries.

“Following their return to New Zealand, the award recipients will attend the New Zealand-China Youth Forum in Auckland on 5 November, where they will share their international experience with other attendees.

“A big focus of the International Leadership Award is the sharing of insights gained overseas with local young people. The award recipients will use their international experience to inspire, mentor and foster ongoing leadership opportunities for other young New Zealanders in their communities.

“Recipients of the inaugural International Leadership Award visited China as part of a Ministerial delegation last year, and returned with a deeper understanding of innovation, technology and entrepreneurship in a country with a burgeoning start-up scene.

“I congratulate the four new recipients this year, and encourage them to immerse themselves in the experiences that lie ahead of them. I’m sure they will grow personally and come home brimming with ideas for new business and social initiatives.”


Biographies of 2017 Award recipients

April McLennan, Founder, Limitless

April founded Limitless, an organisation that aims to help young New Zealanders pursue and excel in work that they’re passionate about, and which connects with their strengths and values, in 2016.

Limitless offers an online portal that connects young people to opportunities, as well as an interactive conference that focuses on developing awareness and confidence. April works full-time on Limitless’ growth and development.

Ashutosh Sharma, CEO, ARCOM NZ

Ashutosh built a maths Q&A app called Extreme Math before starting up ARCOM NZ, which makes new technology accessible to people, develops holographic software for business and has also been developing a social good app for people who are deaf and mute. Ashutosh also recently relaunched his first website, Sell My Good, an online classified ads platform which has since experienced rapid growth.

Stephanie Benseman, Communications and Marketing Manager, Young Enterprise

Stephanie works as Communications and Marketing Manager at Young Enterprise, a charity that develops business-oriented programmes and educates students on becoming financially capable.

Currently in her final year at Victoria University completing a Bachelor of Commerce in Information Systems, Commercial Law and Management, Stephanie was also the co-founding director of graduate recruiting platform Filtr and is a partner in youth-led investment fund First Cut Ventures.

Rees Vinsen, Founder, Adduco Media Group

Rees is a tech entrepreneur who navigates the intersection where social media and business meet.

He founded Adduco Media Group, a millennial-led social media agency that grew to a team of 12 within 24 months, and which has worked with more than 120 brands in Australasia and Asia.

Rees also devotes time to other directorship roles and investment pursuits, as well as youth mentoring and speaking engagements.

Video of 2016 Award recipients outlining their experiences and learnings

View video at

Reflections of 2016 Award recipients on opportunities for young New Zealand entrepreneurs in China

View article at


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