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45 youngsters join Asia New Zealand Foundation’s Leadership

45 young leaders join Asia New Zealand Foundation’s Leadership Network

The Asia New Zealand Foundation is welcoming 45 talented young people into its prestigious Leadership Network.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, the Leadership Network is an established global network of young professionals dedicated to the future of New Zealand-Asia relations.

The new members join more than 300 existing members and represent a wide range of professions, including education, the arts, engineering, business, law, media, government and the not-for-profit sector. They are all leaders in their fields and recognise that a strong understanding of Asia will be vital to their future careers and the future of New Zealand as a whole.

The Foundation gives Leadership Network members a range of professional development and leadership experiences to help equip them with the knowledge, skills, and connections to strengthen understanding between New Zealand and Asia.

This is the first year that applications to the network have been extended to participants of the Foundation’s ASEAN Young Business Leaders Initiative (ASEAN YBLI). ASEAN YBLI is a key part of the New Zealand Government’s ASEAN strategy and was created to strengthen links between entrepreneurs and business leaders in Southeast Asia and in New Zealand.

Ten top YBLI business leaders from Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines and Thailand have been accepted into the network, which will strengthen New Zealand’s links with Southeast Asia.

New Leadership Network members accepted in the 2016 intake include:

Claire Achmad (Melbourne), an international human rights law and policy specialist focusing on children’s rights. Achmad grew up in New Zealand to an Indonesian father and New Zealand mother, and has represented New Zealand in the Foundation’s 15+15 Dialogue with Indonesia’s Habibie Center. She has experience in a wide range of leadership and voluntary roles.

Zac Colborne (Auckland), executive director at ADC Microfinance, a New Zealand-based organisation that partners with local microfinance institutions in developing countries, with its major project in Myanmar.

Anjukan Kathirgamanathan (Auckland), aerospace engineer at AIMAltitude. Kathirgamanathan is ethnically Sri Lankan Tamil but moved to New Zealand at the age of five when his parents migrated due to the civil war. He has had a range of leadership experiences, including as past president of the Auckland Tamil Sports Club.

Hendy Setiono (Jakarta), founder and CEO of PT. Baba Rafi, the world’s biggest kebab franchise. Boasting over 1300 outlets across eight countries, Setiono is a past participant of the ASEAN Young Business Leaders Initiative programme and hosted Prime Minister John Key at one of his kebab shops during the Prime Minister’s visit to Indonesia in July.

Alex Smith (Wellington), graduate analyst at Treasury. Smith studied international relations at Victoria University of Wellington, and received a range of prizes and awards during her study, including the Korean Ambassador’s Prize for postgraduate research on Korea. A recipient of the China-New Zealand Scholarship, she spent a year studying intensive Chinese language at Fudan University in Shanghai.

Asia New Zealand Foundation deputy executive director Adele Mason says it is great to see strong interest in Asia from such a range of professionals. “These young leaders are an important investment in the future of New Zealand as they move into higher level leadership roles. They have helped build intercultural and international networks, supported each other in career development, and acted as role models for other New Zealanders engaging with Asia.”

Recent Leadership Network events include an “Agribusiness Hui” – focused on agricultural links between New Zealand and Asia – and a 15+15 Dialogue with the Habibie Centre in Indonesia. Later this month, 12 young leaders will leave New Zealand to participate in a week-long dialogue with Timor Leste.

The Asia New Zealand Foundation received 93 applications for the network this year, and the selection panel was impressed by the calibre of applicants.

The new members will attend an induction day in Wellington on Saturday, 20 August. Media are welcome to attend part of the day.

The Asia New Zealand Foundation is the leading non-government organisation on New Zealand-Asia relations, with a range of programmes designed to equip New Zealanders with first-hand experience of Asia and to forge valuable links to the region. Founded in 1994, the Foundation works in five main areas – business, arts and culture, education, media, and research. It also runs a Leadership Network and takes a lead role in track II (informal diplomacy) bilateral and multilateral dialogues in the Asia-Pacific region.

A link to this media release can be found here:


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