Frances Valintine wants all New Zealanders to be ready for a digital future.
"For over 20 years I felt that I was a bit of a lone wolf, slowly trying to change the conversation, looking at the future of work and the future of capability and skills," says Valintine, who today has been appointed a companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to both education and technology.
"But now, there's been an increase in awareness in the importance of technology - not in the thinking of people as coders and programmers, but actually understanding that technology underpins every industry."
The education futurist has established three successful education organisations fronting a digital procession and is an advocate for getting women into tech.
"I have a drive to change the way we think about the future, making sure that we have a generation that is prepared for what's coming and making education is fit for purpose."
The 46 year-old says the accolade came as a "complete surprise" but puts it down to constantly challenging the status quo.
"I've contributed a lot of my time into initiatives that slowly turn the dial so that we can get everybody on the same journey about why things need to change and the importance of not leaving anyone behind," she says.
Valintine grew up on a farm in Taranaki. She started her corporate career as general manager of the Media Design School in 1998, and later chief executive.
Prior to that, and after finishing school, she travelled to London as a photographer before working in fashion production in Turkey. Upon her return to New Zealand, Valintine began working for the government, recruiting international students.
In 2013 she founded The Mind Lab, which partnered with education provider Unitec a year later in 2014 and later founded Tech Futures Lab in 2016.
Valintine didn't go to university - until she was 40, where she completed a Masters in Education Leadership from the University of Melbourne.
"I'm one of those people who diverted in a zigzag line through my career."
Earlier this year she fronted the 'no degree, no problem' campaign, an open letter signed by more than 100 New Zealand companies acknowledging the demand for contemporary skills, often learned outside formal education.
"What I realised was that there were a number of people just like myself that worked our way through without going to university at all," she says.
"People assume I went the traditional route but actually I'm very much of the view that sometimes life takes you off in different directions, and you can follow that - it doesn't necessarily have to come in an organised line or linear fashion."
Valintine says she got her entrepreneurial spirit from her mother.
"I grew up on a farm and I always wanted to make the best of every situation. I'm a problem-solver at heart - I like to solve problems," she says.
"If you're not driven by an end goal and you say 'I'm just going to keep following the problem I'm trying to solve', you naturally become entrepreneurial because you're not thinking about business or how much money you can make - you're actually thinking about how much impact you can make, and that takes you on quite a different entrepreneurial journey."
I have a drive to change the way we think about the future, making sure we have a generation prepared for what's coming and that education is fit for purpose.
Valintine's education organisations have taught one in 18 teachers in New Zealand. While that sounds significant, she says it only tallies 3500 teachers out of 50,000.
"Our view is that it's great, but we need a lot more teachers to be taught this," she says. "We want to increase that dramatically in this coming year."
Valintine has won many awards for her efforts to get society ready for a digital future, including the HiTech New Zealand Flying Kiwi Award, Sir Peter Blake Leadership Award in 2016, New Zealand Diversity Award, the Top 50 Global EdTech Leaders Award, the Next Woman of the Year Award for education and the Westpac Women of Influence for innovation in 2015.
Looking ahead, Valintine says next year she will be focused on upskilling teachers and executives, making sure New Zealand is on the same page, digitally.
In the past few years she has taught more than 150,000 students, and often catches herself thinking about where these students would have gone if she hadn't woken up one day and decided to create The Mind Lab.
"I have these moments where I feel really proud that I started something that other people have gravitated towards, and also join my team and my vision," she says. "Change can often come from one simple idea but then it comes from all the people who back you."