James (Hemi) David was named Eagle Technology Young Executive of the Year due to his "huge vision, passion and outstanding leadership potential".
The judges were impressed by David's dedication to his career and corporate leadership, achieved by following a less traditional career path and admire the example he sets "integrating and celebrating his Māori culture within the corporate world".
David's career began following his completion of a conjoint degree in commerce and arts with quadruple majors in history, politics, management and international business, whilst also working full time as a customer retention team manager in order to fund his post-graduate masters in history. His dedication and focus earned him a first-class masters in 2011.
Just eight years on and David is the enterprise portfolio manager of Datacom.
In this short time, he has been in the roles of client executive and New Zealand channel leader at MessageMedia as well as cloud client executive and associate director for sales at Datacom. In each of these positions David expanded his teams and repeatedly exceeded targets.
David has consistently maintained his position as the premier account director in the Datacom New Zealand commercial sales organisation and for the fourth year running has exceeded his own personal targets by 150 per cent.
His position within the company allows him to help define strategy, build capability and deliver results that make a material difference to the global-reaching New Zealand technology firm.
David shows clear ambition for both his personal accomplishments and that of his teams, stating that "enabling and empowering others is incredibly rewarding".
He has been instrumental in the installation of the design and delivery of a targeted account planning process to the wider sales organisation across the country which has seen an uplift in personal results for all team members across the country, as well as increased collaboration and enhanced team culture.
Aiding the team to grow from three to 30 over the past three years has enabled and contributed to the growth of contracts from $25m a year to over $150m.
Alongside this he has doubled the company's pipeline growth from $300m to $600m in the past 12 months which support many lines of business reaching 6500 employees across New Zealand.
Streamlining service processes to customers has been high on David's agenda, allowing the end user to receive a more consistent experience than historically provided.
Another initiative David had a hand in was their annual "hackathon" event — previously an insular event, he increased its customer involvement across Australia and New Zealand close to four-fold, resulting in a service offering not provided elsewhere in the market by the corporation's competitors.
Bringing cultural changes into the workplace has also been key to David over the course of his employment with Datacom, having established changes including creating a platform for difficult discussions, creating data to support metrics enabling the removal of "emotions" from the analysis.
On cultural shift throughout business in New Zealand, he says he'd "probably like to see more, to see diversity in all its forms," saying gender equality in the IT sector is improving: "it's not as good as it should be, but it's getting better.",
He says that getting Māori, Pacific Island and also other "diverse people of different ages" into different roles helps to "encourage different thoughts and ideas just to come to the fore." The principle of this is to allow for learning from failures and successes to be shared throughout the wider group.
David believes strongly in allowing individuals to create and exceed their own goals and has been a proponent of reverse mentoring, allowing everyone's voices to be heard, not just the top performers.
Family is an important catalyst to the way David perceives his role in the workplace and shows compassion to his team's own personal needs and family provisions outside of the business, noting "family and building a strong future for my children is central to my purpose.
"A big part of my own belief system is driving social equality both in the workplace and in the community more generally. I am incredibly passionate about helping minorities, including gender and cultural, have a voice and an opportunity to contribute."
He admits challenges within his role. At 31, he is the youngest in the team and one of a few with Māori heritage within the organisation, but says despite these factors — or maybe because — he feels ultimately they have served to allow him to "empower and encourage senior members in the team to deliver in a way that suits them but drives the outcomes that I want."
This passion for merging corporate and personal culture played a key part in the judges' decision: "Hemi provides a great example, integrating and celebrating his Māori culture within the corporate world. He is confident moving in both worlds and very focused on bridging that cultural divide to change the country for the better," said Liam Dann.
Finalist: James Magill, Genesis Energy
Executive general manager of retail markets for Genesis Energy, James Magill, joined the New Zealand-based energy firm nearly three years ago "setting off an extraordinary journey with many highs and lows," he says.
Successes include a 10 per cent lift in retail profit, a further reduction in customer turnover and the company's recent announcement it is investing in an electric car start-up.
McGill's graduated from Aston University in the UK in 2006 and was accepted into the general management graduate programme at Centrica, a global energy utility and parent of British Gas. This was a formative period covering sales, operations and mergers and acquisitions both in the UK and North America.
Magill completed a corporate finance diploma and spent three years as a commercial analyst and business development manager at British Gas, leading to a role in Centrica as the corporate development manager. He travelled to Spain to complete his master of business administration, achieving the dean's list for his academic ranking.
He then moved to Australia where he transitioned from corporate finance and strategy to immerse himself in building businesses with a focus on lean product design and customer experience.
Magill says having the opportunity to study and work in other countries has been one of the most rewarding aspects of his career: "It's fun to get to know different customs, people and understand how the same thing can be achieved in different ways."
At Genesis, he leads the corporations product development, digital innovation and architecture, sales, brand and marketing teams with the aim of re-imagining energy for customers.
Magill's contributions at Genesis include aiding the development of Energy IQ (a web and mobile experience giving customers insights on their energy usage), the development of Genesis Power Shout (where blocks of energy are gifted to customers) taken up 150,000 customers, a reduction in customer churn in the last 18 months as well as seeing growth in market share of targeted B2B sectors.
Magill says the challenges in his role and industry are balancing the need for performance while transforming: "I think the energy industry, like others, is ripe for disruption and I want to ensure Genesis is doing all that it can to disrupt itself."
The judges praised Magill on his integration of his "bigger picture roles into his business role", with Theresa Gattung summarising: "He is an articulate advocate for his company and his industry playing a transformational role in New Zealand and the world."
Finalist: Amelia Rentzios, OMV
Graduating with a bachelor of chemical and materials engineering in Auckland, Amelia Rentzios' career began with a whistle-stop tour of the world, starting first in the US, then continuing in the Netherlands before she returned and settled into her role as plant manager for OMV's Maui Production Station in Taranaki.
Back in 2005 Rentzios was selected for the L'Oreal Graduate Programme and worked in the New York head office developing new products for the Maybelline brand. From there she became the conglomerate's production planner and scheduler in one of their manufacturing plants, which provided an opportunity to assess and optimise performance of the production lines.
In 2009 Rentzios joined the Shell Graduate Programme in the Netherlands and chose Production Operations as her future career path.
She overcame challenges that came with being the only foreigner, woman and one of the youngest in the 200-strong team, gaining credibility and trust by learning to speak and write in the local dialect which ultimately led to her having the opportunity to lead a team of her own. She said this was imperative to enabling her to build relationships and trust within her team: "because it was ops and because I was in leadership, I had to be able to build relationships, I had to be able to communicate and it helps learning the language."
By 2013 she had become Shell's senior operations team lead following a year in the role of production programmer.
In this new role she was responsible for the highest producing cluster of facilities in the asset which included five gas processing facilities and 15 satellites facilities.
Ten years after her career began, Rentzios was seconded into the business improvement team to develop and work on a portfolio of initiatives for the asset which contributed to significant cost savings.
Rentzios said working overseas in different cultures and environments helped shape her leadership style.
"To be able to lead effectively in different work environments and different cultures, you have to be able to communicate effectively and build relationships, be adaptable."
Now at OMV — New Zealand's second largest supplier of gas — she is accountable for the delivery of the plant, execution of maintenance and project work and the development of the team. She says her biggest challenge is "running the plant in in a safe and cost-efficient way".
Rentzios has overseen the company's backlog of safety-critical maintenance jobs reduced from 47 in January 2019 to zero by August 2019, established a maintenance and inspection co-ordinator role and implemented a new initiative around behavioural safety.
She is "committed to promoting a culture of care and our goal is zero harm to people or environment.
"The way I develop strategy for the longer term, the sustainability of Maui, that's defined by the environment around me."
She keeps the Māori proverb 'Whatungarongaro te tangata, toitū te whenua' at the fore: "it basically says 'if a man disappears from sight, the land remains': that's a perspective I absolutely have in life and career."
With few women in her industry, Rentzios created the Young Energy Professionals Network which enables like-minded women to share their experiences while supporting and encouraging one another.
The judges commend Rentzios on her passion "working within the industry to deal with demise of carbon-based energy while also advocating for her industry" as well as "working actively to broaden the role of women within the industry, maintaining internal networking group for female employees".
Rentzios says her primary goal is to "establish myself in the energy industry as a future leader and voice on our pathway in the energy transition" coining the term "energy influencer" and wants to "shape the energy transition in New Zealand."