Education Tauranga regional manager Anne Young identified her future career path early in her life.

When she was growing up her father John Cronin - a long-serving Tauranga councillor - was involved with bringing overseas delegations into the Bay of Plenty. "That was what got me interested in the whole international thing and it just carried on from there," she said.

Since taking up her current role in early 2014, she has been a key figure in driving the growth in international student numbers to the Bay. Education Tauranga is part-funded by crown entity Education NZ, which has responsibility for international students, with a membership made up of the compulsory education sector schools plus the tertiary institutions.

Greg Simmonds, strategic projects manager at Priority One and a board member of Education Tauranga, said Ms Young had a collaborative style of leadership that had brought together 38 local institutions to collectively market and promote Tauranga and the Western Bay of Plenty as a high quality study destination for international students.

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"Through these efforts we have seen the value of international education almost double to approximately $40 million over the past couple of years," said Mr Simmonds.

"Anne has made an enormous contribution to international student growth in the subregion over the past couple of years. She is passionate about cultural diversity in schools and ensuring all students have the opportunity to learn other cultures and languages, so they can be true global learners."

Ms Young zeroed in on her key interests when she left Tauranga to study at Victoria University of Wellington. She completed a bachelor of arts with a double major in Japanese and international relations, with a minor in Mandarin, then got her Certificate in English Language Teaching and went to Japan to teach English for two years.

On her return she was hired as international marketing officer - Japan, for the Capital Language Academy in Wellington, then spent from 2002-05 as VUW's international services manager, at time when Chinese student numbers were booming .

"I was brought in, when the government was developing a new government code of practice for international students, to drive the services team and look at how the code would be enforced," she said.

Wanting further international experience, she moved to London, initially completing a short-term contract at the medical school of the Imperial College of London. She then became head of International Alumni Relations International Programmes at the University of London, where she stayed for almost three years.

"It was a very cool job," said Ms Young, whose role focused on increasing international student numbers in key markets by utilising the alumni network. "The University of London's networks were a big part of their marketing strategy. The UK and the US universities work their alumni connections really well."

When her first child was one, she returned to New Zealand and in 2010 joined the Ministry of Education as a senior adviser for the tertiary sector to help rewrite the guidelines for the new code of practice for international students.

Based out of Auckland, she and her husband Lawrence found themselves spending most of their weekends in the Bay. When the role of international director at the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic came up, she got the job, and the couple relocated in 2012. Her investment banking husband initially took on child care duties with their second baby, before landing a job at Craigs Investment Partners.

The BOP Poly was a member of Education Tauranga, at the time primarily an information-sharing network part-funded by Education NZ.

"We put together a strategy to build on the thinking that international education was making a significant economic contribution to the region," she said.

Tauranga economic agency Priority One became involved, and eventually partnership funding was found to create the new role, which she took up in 2014. Education Tauranga receives funding from Education NZ, its member institutions and Priority One, which provides office space and other support.

"My role is to build the profile of international education as a viable export sector that is making a significant contribution not just economically, but socially," she said.

"Yes international students help schools fund better resources. But what is even more important is that students are being exposed to people from other cultures. That's something I really feel passionate about and it's a key part of why I'm in this role."

Annette Roff, international director at Tauranga Boys College, said Ms Young had taken international education in Tauranga to another level.

"It wouldn't have been possible for us to have as many international students as we have in the BOP without the support from Anne," said Ms Roff.

"She has a real insight into international education, which is really valuable for us here as institutions. I don't think people in the Bay appreciate what she has contributed. Her knowledge of the industry is quite unbelievable."

Anne Young:

* Role: Regional manager, Education Tauranga

* Born: Tauranga, New Zealand

* Age: 39

* First job: English language teacher in Japan