Ryan Archibald oversees business innovation at Auckland Unlimited, the council body responsible for enriching Auckland’s cultural and economic life. He is also a former Black Stick and has represented New Zealand at three Olympic Games.
Ryan Archibald is New Zealand’s second most capped Black Stick. Following in the footsteps of his Olympic gold-medalist father Jeff Archibald, Ryan was “born with a hockey stick in his hand” and represented New Zealand for an incredible 19 years.
He holds a silver Commonwealth medal and has proudly worn the silver fern at three Olympic Games and three world cups. He has given back to the sport he loves through coaching and governance - he sits on numerous boards and is the current Chair of the New Zealand Hockey Players Association. This year, he was named a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to hockey.
But there’s so much more to Ryan to than just hockey. Alongside a legendary sporting career, he has earned the respect of the business community for his part in driving innovation and diversification in Auckland’s economy.
As Business Innovation Manager at Auckland Unlimited, he represents the economic side of Auckland Council’s efforts to support high-value industries and the growth of the high-tech sector in Tāmaki Makaurau.
“We support and promote innovation across sectors of importance in Auckland, so for instance that could be anything from food and beverage manufacturing or aerospace engineering.”
Since joining Auckland Unlimited (formerly ATEED) in 2015, he has had a hand in attracting private sector investment into the Tripartite Economic Alliance, Techweek and council recreational infrastructure, and facilitated the launch of the XLabs circular economy accelerator and working groups supporting the growth of the aerospace and advanced manufacturing sectors in Auckland. Ryan continues to work collaboratively with the private sector, central government and the tertiary sector to design Auckland’s future roadmap as a city of innovation.
“Innovation is an enabler of productivity, competitiveness and resilience, which are all really important in a post-Covid climate. Auckland is a fantastic city to live and work in and we want to make sure we attract and support those high-value industries to invest in Auckland and create jobs in this city.”
Ryan holds a conjoint Bachelor of Arts and Commerce degree from the University, completed over six years rather than the usual four as he juggled study and career with sporting commitments – something he’s become accustomed to since he was selected for the national men’s hockey side in his last year of Auckland Grammar School. In recent years he’s also added an MBA to his education.
“There's a lot of downtime when you are touring overseas so I actually spent quite a lot of time in hotel rooms doing assignments and reading textbooks. The majority of the other players were studying and playing as well.”
Long term, this gave Ryan better work options when he retired from the national squad. He held roles in logistics to waste and resource recovery before joining the public sector.
“My study at the University of Auckland gave me a good foundation for entering the workforce, in particular my history major. It's where I learned how to think critically, how to structure an argument, and it developed my writing skills - all attributes relevant to being successful in any profession,” Ryan says.
“I still engage with the University as it’s an important contributor to Auckland’s economy. There's some incredible knowledge and expertise and the entrepreneurship programmes are excellent.”
Ryan shared his most important learning so far - to trust your instincts and prepare thoroughly.
“That has served me well both in sport and in business,” Ryan says, adding he is also driven by helping his two daughters be the best they can be, just as his parents did for him.
“I’m fortunate to have grown up in a really supportive family, had some great bosses, smart colleagues and a close group of mates. I try to soak up the good from all of the interactions I have.”