Mark Weldon's leadership of the New Zealand stock exchange through a period of immense change brought him to the attention of the Sir Peter Blake Trust.

It was in 2005 that Mr Weldon, who represented New Zealand in swimming at the Olympics and Commonwealth Games, was announced as one of the inaugural Blake Leaders.

The then 38-year-old came to the NZX four years earlier from New York, where he had lived for 10 years while at law school, a law firm and a strategy consulting company. He was headhunted by New Zealand investment banker Lloyd Morrison.

Under Mr Weldon's direction the stock exchange went through a demutualisation and a sharemarket listing.


"Change is difficult and does require leadership," Mr Weldon said.

He believes being prepared to stand up and take a view counted toward his selection.

"That's something that is quite difficult to do and does become easier the more people do it, the less people are afraid to stand up and put their head above the parapet and take the risk of being in the public domain."

Mr Weldon said the connections made through being a Blake Leader were inspirational and included people from all backgrounds.

"And with Blake leadership you don't just get an award and disappear. It can become quite a meaningful part of your life."

Since his award Mr Weldon has given time to public policy.

In March he hosted 40 Blake award winners at his home and vineyard in Queenstown where there were some "serious conversations about matters of national interest".

"That's just the sort of network that other countries have had through things like the Harvard alumni which are very powerful and supportive and we've never really had that. So this is not just a prize that you win ... you become a part of it."