Working to fully digitise the Open Polytechnic of New Zealand and make the system accessible to other educational organisations is just one reason why Kerikeri's Murray Bain was recognised in this year's Queen's Birthday honours.
Bain was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to tertiary education and digital learning on June 7.
The Kerikeri resident said it was "quite a surprise" and paid tribute to the team at Open Polytech, particularly the chief executive and senior management team who worked with him on the project.
"It was a real surprise and honour," Bain said.
"I'm sure a lot of people don't feel like they deserve it any more than other people do. It's a real privilege to have been offered this."
Bain chaired the governing council of the Open Polytechnic of New Zealand from 2013 to 2020.
During this time, he worked with the chief executive to transform the organisation from a paper-based institution to a fully digital organisation, resulting in both educational and commercial success.
He also drove investment into education technology and ensured Māori equity regarding access to online learning.
Now 30,000 learners each year are studying more than 1000 digital courses.
This proved invaluable during the response to Covid-19 in 2020, as Open Polytechnic was able to support other educational organisations through free access to its iQualify platform to support digital learning.
Bain said he enjoyed making the contribution.
"It was great to have during Covid.
"We provided the system free to people across the country so a lot of businesses and learning organisations used it. It was the right time to be part of the community."
Bain is the founder and principal of Bain & Associates, a specialist consultancy providing governance and strategic management advice.
He is currently deputy chair of TSB Bank, deputy chairman NorthTec, and chairman of the Central DHB Technology Advisory Services Board.
He is also a board member of Ara Institute of Canterbury and Southern Institute of Technology.
Bain said online learning is important for Northland.
"We have a lot of distance which makes it difficult for people to travel to centres and we've got a real need for upskilling and making it easy for people in Northland to learn.
"The important thing about digital learning is it can be used alongside face-to-face learning to create more flexibility. You don't have to go to the classroom all the time, you can learn while working, out of hours, or remotely. You can learn at your own pace.
"But it's not a replacement for face-to-face learning, it's an add-on which provides more flexibility."