New wave of business leaders helping companies manoeuvre through the digital world.

A Kiwi entrepreneur helping businesses embrace change in the face of digital disruption believes New Zealand can be a global leader in technology innovation.

Samuel Stadler, vice-president marketing for Parrot Analytics, a Los Angeles-based company which measures global television content demand, says New Zealand is a great place for technology companies to prosper - and to significantly contribute to the country's high-value exports.

A University of Auckland MBA graduate, Stadler is one of a new wave of business leaders being produced by the university who are helping people and organisations change and emerging tech start-ups embrace innovation and an entrepreneurial mindset.

"I started my career in a Paris-based technology start-up working alongside six MBA graduates in what turned out to be a very entrepreneurial work environment," he says.

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"This experience early on in my career provided me with a deep conviction that the environment and organisational culture I provide for my staff is one where every idea is considered, people are truly valued and leadership is expected at all levels."

His time with the start-up led to a successful career helping New Zealand brands increase their online performance and, he says "I believe New Zealand can be a global leader in technology innovation."

Now based at Parrot Analytics' Auckland office, Stadler and his team are responsible for growth initiatives to support the company's goal of becoming the standard for TV audience measurement globally.

Among the companies it is working with is TVNZ which is using Parrot Analytics' platform to assist with business decisions around marketing, acquisitions, scheduling and day-to-day audience tracking.

At the time the partnership was announced, TVNZ's digital content general manager Juliet Peterson said conventional ratings fell short of providing a holistic view of what content is resonating with audiences and they signed with Parrot Analytics to gain a better understanding of the New Zealand content landscape.

Stadler says he figured his MBA would be an ideal way to place his digital expertise in the greater global business context and, longer term, to provide a framework to create more value for New Zealand businesses.

The University of Auckland is launching a re-shaped MBA designed with a future-focus around three key themes – achieving excellence, driving change and thriving under complexity.

Stadler says the MBA has given him a fresh understanding of leadership and what it means to work in a high-performance team - and to do so continuously.

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"It teaches you to open yourself up to entirely new and unexpected perspectives and to deal with complex problems where a solution set is not necessarily defined.

"One of the cornerstone areas of value of the MBA programme is the learnings derived from other leaders in the room," he says. "There were senior leaders in my cohort who shared my entrepreneurial thinking associated with the tech sector.

"The relationships you build are invaluable and the MBA gives you a really strategic outlook on life. The cross-over learning from various disciplines and entire industry sectors is so valuable."

Stadler says his MBA experience has heightened his resilience and strengthened his tenacity.

"It is quite a challenge to balance home life, work commitments, study and external client project commitments. In many ways it is as much an academic experience as it is a life experience, and one I know I will benefit from for years to come."

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