October 4, 2021

Meet the Top Diverse Emerging Board-Ready Directors 2021: Part 2

Sophia Sattar
I have lived in NZ for the last 15 years, I come from a pacifika background. I am a proud mother of two young girls. I believe in improving and promoting diversity and inclusion in workplace. I have recently signed up with women leaders Institute where I can learn more, promote and represent diversity &inclusion in the Moari and Pasifika community. I am a member of the CAANZ community and have been involved in mentoring CA’s and CPA’s to help them with their career pathways. I believe in empowering people to see them perform at their best potential. I have worked in manufacturing & construction industry throughout most of my accounting career and my recent role with Metroglass has been one, where I have gained wealth of knowledge working with a diverse and most talented bunch of leaders. I look forward to working with some more amazing leaders as part of the Diverse Board ready program.


Kayo Sakey
My passion is to create a collaborative environment where the team focuses on “actionable, fit for purpose” strategies to deliver sustainable business growth for NZ. This applies to both my governance and executive roles. My leadership style is built on cultural agility and Japanese values, coupled with Kiwi Can-do attitude. A diverse and successful leadership track record of over 20 years has been enabled by science and technology. It spans across the food, nutritional and the primary industries, including general management roles at Fonterra and its predecessors as well as a business transformation leadership in biosecurity and traceability for public/private partnerships.
My current focus is on leading business transformation for a start-up Agritech company to enable farms to be environmentally sustainable (water and climate change) and to help lift the value of NZ brands through sustainability credentials. As the Chair of NZ Asian Leaders Wellington, I promote the value of diversity for Aotearoa.

Keeha Oh
As a young Korean wāhine, Keeha offers an unconventional voice in the boardroom. In particular, she strives to introduce disruptive ideas which are conscious of the multi-faceted society New Zealanders live in. In 2020, Keeha founded University of Auckland Women in Business (UAWB), a society which aims to empower the next generation of women in business. After serving the Executive Committee as President in 2020, Keeha now leads the UAWB Advisory Board. Keeha holds a LLB (First Class Honours) and BCom (Accounting, Finance) degree from University of Auckland. Additionally, Keeha is an ADR ODR International accredited mediator. She has previous experience in the Legal and Governance teams at Tower Insurance and is currently employed in the Litigation practice at Russell McVeagh

Melanie Smith
I currently work for Kāinga Ora (previously Housing NZ) as a Policy Manager. Prior to my career as a Manager in government, I worked as a lawyer in the public sector for around 15 years. I have served on several Boards, including as the previous Chair of a nationwide education provider for gifted children (NZCGE). I have gained extensive policy and strategic experience across the whole machinery of government working for a range of government department and Crown entities in both New Zealand and the UK. I gained my LLB(Hons) First Class and BCA from Victoria University of Wellington and completed an LLM on a Fulbright scholarship at the University of Michigan

Michelle Huang
Michelle Huang is a 1.5 generation Chinese-New Zealander from Tāmaki Makaurau, with experience working across both private and public sectors. She is a D&I professional, consultant, researcher, App founder, activist and remote educator of children in rural China. Michelle has lived and worked in NYC, Shanghai, Sydney and Auckland, allowing her to offer a truly global perspective and network to decision making in today’s deeply interconnected business environment. Michelle has previously served on a number of nonprofit and for profit boards. She is currently the Chair of Multiethnic Young Leaders New Zealand (MYLN), Aotearoa’s fastest-growing network of ethnically-diverse young leaders in the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion space. She was also recently appointed as the youngest person ever to sit on the Ministry for Ethnic Communities’ ECDF Advisory Panel. As a director, Michelle is committed to maintaining authentic leadership, holding space for marginalised voices, and boldly challenging group think.

Nirupa George
A seasoned communications professional with expertise in the political and public sector, Nirupa joined SkyCity as Chief Corporate Affairs Officer in June 2021. She is responsible for leading SkyCity’s corporate affairs activities, including government, community and industry stakeholder relations and SkyCity’s public policy and advocacy. Before joining Skycity, Nirupa was Chief of Staff to the Mayor of Auckland, responsible for running his office and executing the Mayor’s political priorities. Prior to this, she ran the successful mayoral campaign in 2016 and worked in Parliament as a Political and Media Advisor. Early in her career, Nirupa was a Senior Solicitor specialising in refugee and humanitarian law. Nirupa is currently a board member of Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand and holds a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Health Science from the University of Auckland.

Nurain Janah
Nurain is a Senior Consultant at Ernst & Young New Zealand. Born in the Maldives, she grew up a proud Muslim Kiwi. Her lived experience of inequity inspired her mission to create a more equitable world through storytelling, mentoring and strategic decision making. She founded Authenticity Aotearoa, a social enterprise that empowers women from minority backgrounds to express their authentic selves and works to create culturally competent and inclusive workplaces. Her diverse governance portfolio includes being a Trustee of Belong Aotearoa, working on systems change for resettled communities, and Trustee of the New Zealand Junior Chamber Trust, working on grants and funding administration. Nurain represented Aotearoa at the 2017 UN Commission on the Status of Women. She was recognised as a Business Leader in the 2020 University of Auckland 40 Under 40 Honourees. She was a finalist in the 2021 Women in Governance Awards and the 2017 Women of Influence Awards.

Nuwanthie Samarakone
Nuwanthie is an experienced international business executive and emerging company director who stands for values based impact that creates better lives. Her founding business over a decade ago, ICE, is aconsultancy firm specialising in designing, delivering and developing schemes for organisations looking to build early talent pipelines . In 2020, she exited as Managing Partner at ICE, to focus on her governance career. The company continues to operate and scale successfully, continuing to make an impact. She remains the Founding Director. Around the board table, Nuwanthie brings youth, energy and passion and her capability is in building and scaling businesses, a People and Culture focus, the Customer journey, Business development, Sales, coupled with Marketing & Innovation through a Sustainability lens.

Pengbo Jiang
Tēnā koutou, my name is Pengbo Jiang. I am Chinese by birth and Kiwi by citizenship. I am an experienced Director, Board Member and Adviser in the private, public and not for profit sectors. Over the last 20 years, I have been an active volunteer and a passionate advocate for new migrants in the community. Roles have ranged from working sausage sizzles to raise a few hundred dollars, to serving on the boards of nationwide not-for-profit organisations with million-dollar fundraising campaigns. A highlight was being included in the Canadian New Year Honours List when I received the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers from the Her Majesty the Queen in recognition of my community service in New Zealand

Dr Kat Eghdamian
Kat is an Iranian-Kurdish New Zealander and former refugee with a passion for people and social change. With over a decade of experience as an advisor on international development, human rights, integration, and community development, Kat has consulted on a range of pressing contemporary challenges, including refugee protection and inclusion in Jordan, Turkey, and Germany (UNHCR; JLIFC; RSC), gender equality in Washington DC (CEDAW), and social cohesion policies in the UK (UCL; Oxford), to name a few.* While her maternal grandparents were illiterate, Kat entered university at the age of sixteen and later earned 6 degrees from 5 of the world’s top universities, including an MPhil from Oxford University and a PhD from UCL.** After living in 9 countries across 5 continents, Kat has returned home to Aotearoa New Zealand. Her mission is to bring a global vision to local needs through incisive analyses of social realities and strengthening partnerships across sectors.

Mahes Hettige
Professionally Mahes hold the position of Head of Balance Sheet Management for BNZ. A role that involves managing BNZ’s balance sheet strength, funding & liquidity strategy and interest rate risks. Mahes has extensive international & domestic market funding and funds management experience gained over 35 years in Corporate, Banking, Treasury and Risk management, holding senior management roles for a variety of organisations. Mahes has been  had an active role in building capital markets in New Zealand with establishment of first NZ covered bonds and many funding initiatives in international  &domestic capital markets for NZ organisations. Prior to his current role at BNZ Mahes worked at Westpac as the Senior Manager Funding and Capital Structure and at two State Owned Enterprises as Deputy Treasurer at Electricity Corporation of NZ, Deputy Treasurer at Housing NZ, and in Local Government as Funds Manager at Auckland City. Mahes is member of NZ Asian Leaders (NZAL) and is member of its Wellington management committee. Mahes is also the President of the largest Sri Lankan community group – United Sri Lanka Association (ULSA) Inc, Wellington.  Under the USLA banner Mahes has led the fundraising & cultural events, engagement with NZ members of Parliament and community projects to help grow the knowledge of its membership in areas of community and interest (via knowledge for thought talk series by young members of the community). Mahes is an old boy of Wellington College and married with 3 children – Mahes & his wife Roshanthi lives in Churton Park in Wellington. Mahes is a Fellow of the Institute of Finance Professionals of NZ (INFINZ), holds a Bachelor of Commerce and Administration with Honours from Victoria University, Wellington and is a Chartered Accountant of Chartered Accountants Australia and NZ.

Rebecca Ann Crawford
I am bright, curious and ask good questions. Since I have experienced the world differently to others these questions often test underlying assumptions. I believe more perspectives help you see things as they are; tough questions make better decisions. Throughout my international career I have worked with public and private sector organisations to define and connect with their audience. After over a decade in marketing and communications I chose to transition to law where I have advised and trained senior leadership in privacy, and health and safety compliance. My diverse professional experience and unique point of view provide a solid foundation to contribute meaningfully in a governance capacity and I am ready to apply that strategic expertise in organisations that align with my values.

Ritika Singh
After more than a decade of sales and business development roles in aviation, education, NFP and management consulting, Ritika founded sales consulting firm, Ri-Think Ltd in 2020, specialising in B2B sales strategy and customer growth for start ups and SMEs. In addition, Ritika heads the Corporate Division for Aims Global Immigration, one of the oldest immigration firms in New Zealand. Described as radically innovative, Ritika is constantly challenging the norm to enhance customer experience and build successful growth strategies. Alongside her business adventures, Ritika is the co-chair and trustee of The Period Place, a charity working towards achieving period equity in Aotearoa by 2030. She is also on the committee for 10×10 Philanthropy Auckland and LinkedinLocal Auckland, a circle leader for Lean In Auckland and a member of SuperDiverse Women.

Rosabel Tan
Rosabel Tan is a writer, strategist, and creative producer of Peranakan Chinese descent. She is the director of Satellites — a production house centred on the contemporary experience of the Asian diaspora in Aotearoa — and the founding editor of arts-andculture publication The Pantograph Punch. Rosabel has a background in research-led audience development strategy. She was previously Senior Research Analyst for Morris Hargreaves McIntyre, an international consultancy working across the arts and culture sector. Her more recent independent work has included working with Basement Theatre to redesign their recruitment process and with Te Taumata Toi-a-Iwi to imagine a post-covid arts sector. Rosabel sits on a number of boards and advisory groups, including Silo Theatre, the Public Art Advisory Panel for Auckland Council, the Asia Producers Platform planning group, and Te Rōpū Mana Toi, Creative New Zealand’s advocacy advisory group.

Roushan Nabi
Passionate for community, for community development, and for a progressed unified society. Roushan’s extensive academic background and lived-in experience has made her into the strong resilient woman she is today. Her end goal is to create and foster a new “role/space” around Diversity and Inclusion, to encourage the development around cultural awareness and cultural understanding. Advocating the path to create a new leader, post 15 March 2019.

Sam Fellows
Sam is a Tauranga local having been born a grown up there and moving back after studying and his early career. Sam is the Manager of Sustainability and Waste at Tauranga City Council. Away from work and spending time with his young family Sam enjoys refereeing rugby and using his skills from working in the legal field to sit on the boards of a number of not for profit organisations.

Tammy Auranen
Tammy is a digital technology leader with over 20 years’ experience in transformation across multiple industries (local government, retail, utilities, technology, and manufacturing) in New Zealand and Canada. She brings her passion and energy into solving problems creatively and collaboratively and takes pride in developing and leading teams through change and finding innovative ways to solve business challenges. Skilled in technology strategy and roadmaps,
solutions delivery, customer experience and process improvement to deliver a positive impact to the bottom line. Her most recent experience was in the utilities sector transitioning teams through a major capability and resiliency uplift whilst delivering several multi-million-dollar work programmes.

Tanya Johnson
With two decades of experience in software development and product management, Tanya Johnson specialises in bringing humane team leadership, scalable product practices, and sustainable culture into fast growing SaaS organisations. Tanya is the Director of Product at Auror, and the founder of NZ’s Tech Women Community.

Venus Sood Guy
My substantial commercial experience in FMCG, retail systems, applications and products has provided me with an excellent platform, gaining strength in analytics, compliance, risk and a focus on people. I believe in sustainable growth, continuous learning & improvement, and ongoing development of employees. Having a key role in the business has enabled me to focus on quality of products, service offering to customers, cultural diversity, stakeholder relationships, team culture, employee retention and their career development. As an independent director, my approach is to be thorough, pragmatic, ethical, balanced and bold. My authentic leadership, strategic thinking and interpersonal skills enable me to work through issues and to contribute to a positive organisational culture. I believe in sustainable growth, supporting, appreciating and nurturing our people, nature and businesses. I believe in being resilient and being confident in new & emerging technologies is a step forward to grab the opportunities.

Jay Louisson
Over the past 20 years I have helped public and private sector organisations in New Zealand, the United States and Thailand manage reputations through effective shareholder and stakeholder communications. I have always been attracted to workplaces that value clear thinking, are powered by collaboration, and provide opportunities to make a difference. These are the reasons I entered journalism early in my career. And they have remained central to the professional and governance roles I have held since. My public relations experience and networks span the finance, primary, infrastructure, iwi economic development and tertiary education sectors. I currently run my own strategic communications consultancy. I also chair a body corporate of a 34-unit property in Auckland. I am a Chartered Member of the Institute of Directors.

Audrey Cheng
Audrey is the Chief Product Officer at Snapcomms, An Everbridge Company where they are transforming the way organizations communicate and engage with employees. With over 15 years of experience in technology and 10+ years leading product teams, Audrey is passionate about building high performing cross functional teams. She is also x-VP of Product of hypergrowth company Pushpay where she helped to build world class Product and UX organizations and transformed donations and community engagement in the faith sector. Audrey was named product leader of the year 2019 by Leading Women in Product and actively works to build product and UX capability through coaching startups and emerging product leaders.