Entrepreneurs and innovators in line for awards

A banker-turned-airline manager-turned-banker, a tech wizard, magnets, plant DNA, marketing know-how and a shot of vodka are part of the mix for the World Class New Zealand awards.

Announced today by expat association Kea and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) the awards recognise successful New Zealanders who give their time, knowledge and skills to help New Zealand companies and industries succeed internationally.

The supreme award winner will be kept under wraps until a black-tie event in March and receive a Tall Poppy statuette designed by Oscar-winning Weta Workshop's Richard Taylor.

The category award winners for 2007 are Dr John Bedbrook, Dr Paul Callaghan, Ralph Norris, Brian Peace, Kevin Roberts and Geoff Ross.

NZTE Chief Executive Tim Gibson says, "The awards are an exciting opportunity to recognise people reflecting, and actively promoting, a world-class New Zealand to the world."

WHO ARE THEY?

Dr John Bedbrook

Winner Biotechnology

Bedbrook is vice president of research and development - DuPont Agriculture and Nutrition.

Bedbrook joined DuPont in July 2004 through the acquisition of Verdia Inc.

He had served as president and chief executive officer of Verdia, a wholly owned subsidiary of Maxygen Inc since its formation in March 2002.

Bedbrook formerly served as president of Maxygen's agricultural business since November 1999.

Prior to joining Maxygen, Bedbrook was chief executive officer of Plant Science Ventures, a private equity fund, and chief technology officer of Savia from 1997-1999.

Bedbrook also served as co-president of DNA Plant Technologies Inc as well as founder and vice president of research at Advanced Genetic Sciences Inc.

Bedbrook currently serves as a director for Plant Biosciences Limited and on the advisory board for the College of Natural Resources at UC Berkeley.

Bedbrook received his Ph.D. in molecular biology from the University of Auckland. He was a Fulbright Scholar to Harvard Medical School and held a Jane Coffin Childs Fellowship to Harvard University. He was also a Cabot Fellow at Harvard University and an EMBO Fellow to the Plant Breeding Institute in Cambridge, England.


Dr Paul Callaghan

Winner Research, Science Technology and Academia

Paul Callaghan was born in Wanganui, New Zealand and took his first degree in physics at Victoria University of Wellington.

He then completed DPhil degree at Oxford University, working in low temperature physics.

On his return to New Zealand in 1974, he took up a lecturing position at Massey University where he began researching the applications of magnetic resonance to the study of soft matter.

He was made professor of physics in 1984, and in 2001 was appointed Alan MacDiarmid professor of physical sciences at Victoria University of Wellington.

He also heads the multi-university MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology.

Callaghan has been awarded doctorates in philosophy and science from Oxford University.

He is a founding director of Magritek, a small spin-off company based in Wellington, which sells nuclear magnetic resonance instruments and a director of HTS-110 which produces a wide range of magnets, current leads, and coils using firs and second generation high-temperature superconductor wire.

In 2001, Callaghan became the 36th New Zealander to be made a Fellow of the Royal Society of London. He was awarded the Rutherford medal in 2005 and in 2006 was appointed a Principal Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.


Ralph Norris

Winner Finance, Investment and Business Services

Ralph Norris joined the Commonwealth Bank as managing director and chief executive officer in September 2005.

He started his working career with Mobil Oil New Zealand in 1967, before joining the Auckland Savings Bank (ASB) in 1969, which subsequently became a subsidiary of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

He was appointed managing director and chief executive officer of ASB Bank in 1991, retiring from that position in September 2001.

He joined Air New Zealand Limited as managing director and chief executive officer in February 2002, having served on the companys board of directors for three years.

Norris left Air New Zealand to take up his appointment as chief executive at the Commonwealth Bank.

During his tenure as chief executive of ASB, it expanded nationally, grew its profitability six-fold and increased market share by 60 per cent whilst being consistently rated the best financial services provider in New Zealand.

Norris was credited with leading a turnaround at Air New Zealand by returning the company to profitability and introducing a more customer-focused culture, for which he was honoured with New Zealands Executive of the Year Award in 2004.

He was previously New Zealands Executive of the Year in his role at ASB Bank.

Norris was awarded a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to business in 2006 (an equivalent of a Knighthood under the old honours system).

He is a Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Management and the New Zealand Computer Society. He is Chair of the Commonwealth Bank Foundation and a member of the NSW Premiers Business Roundtable.

He is former Chairman of the New Zealand BankersAssociation and Business Roundtable. He was a member of the New Zealand Prime Ministers Enterprise Council and Y2K Taskforce. He is also a director of Team New Zealand.

Mr Norris is 56, was born in Auckland and educated at Lynfield College and is married with three adult children and two grandchildren.


Brian Peace

Winner Information and Communications Technology (ICT)

Brian Peace graduated with a BSc from Auckland University in computer science in 1982, and returned to the University to undertake an MPhil in management science and information systems, which he completed in 1990.

Only two years after first graduating from university, Peace founded Peace Software.

20 years later, Peace Software is recognised as a leading provider of software for deregulating energy utilities.

Peace Software employs more than 400 staff in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. In July 2006, Peace Software was sold to NASDAQ-listed global entity First Data.

In addition to running Peace Software, Peace has also worked as a lecturer in information systems at Auckland University, and as a consultant on system acquisition and implementation. He was named Ernst and Young Technology Entrepreneur of the Year in 1999, and New Zealand Technology Entrepreneur of the Year in 2002.

Originally from Kihikihi, near Te Awamutu, Peace received a Distinguished Alumni Award from Auckland University in 2001.


Kevin Roberts

Winner Creative Industries

Roberts is New York-based chief executive worldwide of Saatchi & Saatchi, one of the worlds top ten advertising agencies.

In October 2001 Roberts became the inaugural chief executive in Residence at Cambridge University's business school, the Judge Institute of Management.

In October 2003 Roberts was named as inaugural professor of sustainable enterprise at both the University of Limerick, Ireland, and Waikato Management School at the University of Waikato, New Zealand.

Roberts was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Waikato in 1998 in recognition of his achievements.

Roberts is a trustee of the Auckland charity, the Turn Your Life Around Trust and a director of the Team New Zealand sailing syndicate. For four years he served as a director of the New Zealand Rugby Football Union.

Roberts was born in Lancaster in the north of England and attended Lancaster Royal Grammar School.

He started his business career in the late 1960s with the influential London fashion house of Mary Quant. After working in senior management and marketing positions with Procter & Gamble in Europe and the Middle East, he became CEO of Pepsi-Cola Middle East at age 32. In 1987 he became CEO of Pepsi Canada.

In 1989 Roberts moved with his family to Auckland to become chief operating officer with Lion Nathan.

In 1997 Roberts took up his present position with Saatchi & Saatchi.

Roberts, who is married to Rowena Roberts, has two daughters and two sons. A New Zealand citizen, he has offices and homes in New Zealand, New York and St Tropez.


Geoff Ross

Winner Manufacturing

Geoff Ross started distilling his now famous vodka 42 Below, in his Wellington garage in 1996. He sold his first bottle in 1999.

42 Below won Gold in the World Spirits Awards and Gold at many other competitions. 42 Below is available in 10 countries worldwide, and the list continues to grow. The Ritz London, Beverly Hills Hotel, LA and more than 4,500 of the best bars worldwide now stock 42 Below.

Late last year Ross sold 42 Below to Bacardi for $138 million.

South Gin, 42 Belows stable mate, won Best in Show twice in a row at the Wines & Spirits awards. The latest addition to the 42 Below family, Seven Tiki is a white rum that's been aged in oak for two years.

Ross comes from an advertising background, having worked for DDB and with global giant, Saatchi & Saatchi for eight years.

Educated at Papakura High School, Auckland where he met wife Justine. Ross grew up on a farm in Paparimu also known as Happy Valley. He attended Lincoln University where he gained a Bachelor of Commerce degree.

Ross lives in Auckland with wife Justine and their sons.

- NZ HERALD STAFF

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