Insurance boss Peter Harris has been crowned EY Entrepreneur Of The Year for 2017 and will represent New Zealand at a global competition in Monaco.
Harris, the founder of NZX-listed insurer CBL Corporation, beat four other category winners to take the top gong at tonight's awards.
Chair of the EY judging panel and co-founder of James Pascoe Group, Anne Norman, said Harris was a "true master entrepreneur".
"Within the corporate environment, Peter has been extremely innovative. We are particularly impressed with his social initiatives, such as the help he has given to under-privileged people in places like Mexico and Peru."
Fellow judge Tim Alpe said Harris had been innovative in an industry which sometimes can be seen as quite antiquated.
The judging panel - which also includes Diane Foreman and Dan Radcliffe - said Harris knew his business inside out and was "very modest but with a very good story to tell".
When Harris took the helm at CBL Corporation, the business had two workers and one office.
Over 17 years, managing director Harris has grown the company to become an international specialist insurer and reinsurer with almost 550 employees across 25 countries.
Harris began as an accountant for the Fletcher Group and moved into insurance in 1989 as an executive director of Boston Marks Group.
CBL has achieved an annual growth rate of 37 per cent and more than 98 per cent of revenue is derived from overseas markets.
Harris will represent New Zealand at EY's World Entrepreneur Of The Year event in Monaco next June, competing for the title with winners from more than 50 countries.
Other category winners vying for the top title tonight were:
• Turbo staff's Ihaka Rongonui
• Dairyworks' Peter Cross
• RedShield Security's Andy Prow
• Onguard Group's Will Lomax
Two other awards presented at tonight's event were the Family Business Award for Excellence, which went to the chocolate-making Whittaker family, and the Exceptional Services to Entrepreneurship Award, given to publisher Dame Wendy Pye.