Meet the members of the University of Auckland Business School Advisory Board.
Rob McDonald, Chair
Rob McDonald’s finance career spans over 35 years, having worked overseas before joining Coopers and Lybrand in the corporate advisory and valuations practice in 1985. He joined Air New Zealand in 1993 and left in 2018 after 13 years as CFO.Rob is Chair of Contact Energy Limited and is a director of Fletcher Building, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand and Sovereign Assurance Company Limited. He is a former board member of the Institute of Finance Professionals New Zealand Inc. and former vice chairman of the IATA Financial Committee.Rob has a Bachelor of Commerce from Auckland University and in 1999 completed the Program of Management Development at Harvard Business School. He is a Fellow of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand.
Michele Embling, Deputy Chair
Michele Embling was appointed Chair of the PwC Board New Zealand in October 2016. Prior to her appointment, Michele led PwC's National Assurance practice for three years and was a member of the NZ PwC Executive Leadership Team. Michele previously held positions as Auckland Managing Partner and the National People and Culture Leader.
Michele is Deputy Chair of the External Reporting Board and was the inaugural Chair of the New Zealand Accounting Standards Board. In addition, Michele is an independent member of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand's Nominations and Governance Committee.
Up until 2018 Michele was the Deputy Chair of Global Women and was the inaugural Chair of Global Women, Women in Leadership Programme. In 2018 she was appointed Vice Co-Chair of Champions for Change – a group of New Zealand’s most senior private and public sector leaders committed to enabling a new generation of diverse leaders driving New Zealand’s future economic growth and social prosperity.
Bruce Aitken was President and Chief Executive Officer of Vancouver-based Methanex Corporation, a publicly listed company and the world’s largest producer of methanol, from May 2004 until December 2012. He is a global business leader and continues to serve on the board of directors for Methanex.
Prior to his appointment in 2004, he was Chief Operating Officer of the company from 2003. Previously, he was Senior Vice President, Asia Pacific, based in New Zealand, from 1997. He was an employee of Methanex and its predecessor companies for 19 years.
Bruce is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Australia and New Zealand.
Danny Chan holds a number of directorships in New Zealand. He is the Deputy Chairman of Academic Colleges Group Limited, the largest private education group in New Zealand. In 2009, Danny was appointed to the Board of Abano Healthcare Limited, an NZX listed healthcare provider. His other directorships including Flowerzone International Limited, Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development Limited and Farmers Mutual Group.
Danny was a former director of Everbright Pacific Limited, a subsidiary of one of the largest Chinese government owned conglomerates, China Everbright Limited. He was also a director of Airways Corporation Limited, a state owned air traffic management company and AgResearch Limited, a crown owned scientific research company that specializes in agricultural and biotechnology developments.
Katherine Corich is founder and Chair of Sysdoc - Business Transformation and Digital Consultancy with operations in four regions, and Associate Fellow at the University of Oxford Saïd Business School. Her expertise is in business transformation, stakeholder engagement, leadership of change, process engineering, simulation based learning and cross border working.
Katherine served on the boards of the Liverpool Mayoral Development Corporation, University of Canterbury International Advisory Board and Global Women. She is currently a non-exec director of Women in Leadership Europe and MyWave Liimited.
Katherine is Chair of the global It’s a Penalty Child Protection charity and an ambassador/advisor for: CEISMIC – Earthquake Stories, Aviva Families and Global Angels. A recipient of several awards, Katherine has been twice awarded the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. She was named UK New Zealander of the Year in 2015 and was inducted into the Hi-Tech Hall of Fame. Katherine won Aveeno Business Women of the Year and was a finalist in the UK National Business Awards.
Whaimutu Dewes, of Ngāti Porou and Ngāti Rangitihi descent, is a professional director currently involved in the energy, seafood and agribusiness sectors aligning with an intense interest in the role of economics and governance in New Zealand and Māori economic development.
Prior roles include working as a lawyer in the public service as well as senior management roles in the private and public sectors.
A strong advocate of the revitalisation of te reo Māori, Whaimutu regards the fact he and his wife Judy have raised their children to be fluent in the Māori and English languages to be one of the highlights.
Roger France is a professional, non-executive director and chartered accountant with more than 17 years governance experience in a wide range of organisations.
He is currently Chairman of private investment company Tappenden Holdings and the Deep South National Science Challenge, a Director of the Southern Cross Medical Care Society, a Trustee of the University of Auckland Foundation, and a member of the Advisory Panel for Next Foundation.
Roger’s past Board appointments include Fonterra, Air New Zealand, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, Blue Star Group, Orion Health Group and Team New Zealand. He was member of the Council of The University of Auckland for twelve years and Chancellor between 2009 and 2012.
Before taking up a governance career, Roger was the CFO of two listed New Zealand companies and a corporate advisory partner at PwC.
Mr France is a Fellow of both the New Zealand Institute of Directors and Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand.
Pete Jones is the Principal of Manurewa High School, the largest decile 1 high school in New Zealand with about 2000 students made up of over 50% Pasifika, 25% Maori and a mix of more than 50 nationalities. He is originally from the UK and has a BA from Liverpool University, a PGCE from Birmingham University and an MSc from Manchester Metropolitan University. In 2017 he also completed the University of Auckland Business School NZLI Executive Leadership course.
Pete came to NZ in 2006 and restarted his teaching career at Manurewa High School as a Health and PE teacher. In 2009 he was appointed Deputy Principal and then Principal in 2016.
Jeanette is the Executive General Manager of People for ASB Bank Limited. Jeanette joined the ASB in July 2018 after heading up the Agile Academy at Spark New Zealand.
Prior to that she was the Global HR Director at Mayborn Group Limited and has held several Board and Non-Executive Director positions in the UK. Jeanette has also held senior Global HR and Director roles at Novartis, Priceline.com, Liz Claiborne, Cargill and Ford Motor Co.
Jeanette has an extensive background in people experience, transformation & talent strategies and managing major change & international growth programs. She is also an Advisory Board member for Global Angels and the University of Liverpool Management School.
Jeanette holds a Bachelor of Science, with Hons from Loughborough University of Technology.
Jodie is Vodafone New Zealand’s Chief People Officer, having joined the digital services provider in May 2020 from Air New Zealand where she spent seven years playing a key role in further building the company’s iconic culture and customer focus, four of those as Chief People Officer.
Jodie is a people leader with a wealth of knowledge in developing a customer centric culture, proven expertise in talent development, and strong commercial acumen.
She is passionate about helping organisations, teams and individuals to reach their full potential in a technology-focused environment, and enabling a better digital future for all New Zealanders.
Prior to returning to Auckland, Jodie worked at KPMG in London for 16 years in both management consulting and in HR leadership roles. She holds a double degree in Commerce (Human Resource Management) and Arts (History) from the University of Otago, holds an Executive Management Qualification from INSEAD and is a member of Global Women. Jodie’s whakapapa is Ngai Tahu and has 3 children.
Fady is an inspirational leader, globally successful business creator and one of our alumni. He studied at The University of Auckland and graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce and a Bachelor of Engineering. He later went on to found PowerbyProxi as a spin-out from the University of Auckland’s world leading wireless power department. The company was acquired by Apple in 2017.
He is an active and involved alumnus of the University of Auckland and regularly participates in the life of the University. With countless hours of advising, mentoring and speaking engagements, Fady has supported the development of the next generation of leaders.
Fady was awarded the University of Auckland’s Distinguished Alumni Award and also The Velocity (formerly Spark) Entrepreneur of the Decade Award.
Roger Partridge is chairman and a Senior Fellow of The New Zealand Initiative, the think tank supported by CEOs of a majority of New Zealand’s largest companies.
He led law firm Bell Gully as executive chairman from 2007 to 2014 and was a partner of the firm for 24 years. He was executive director of the Legal Research Foundation, a charitable foundation associated with the University of Auckland, from 2001 to 2009, a member of the Council of the New Zealand Law Society, the governing body of the legal profession in New Zealand, from 2011 to 2015 and is a chartered member of the Institute of Directors.
David Skilling is the founding Director of Landfall Strategy Group, a Singapore-based economic advisory firm that provides insights on global economic, political, and policy developments to governments, firms and financial institutions.
David has recently served as Senior Advisor to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in New Zealand. Prior to founding Landfall Strategy Group in 2011, David was an Associate Principal with McKinsey & Company in Singapore, as well as being a Senior Fellow with the McKinsey Global Institute. Before joining McKinsey, David was the founding Chief Executive of the New Zealand Institute, a privately-funded, non-partisan think-tank. Until 2003, David was a Principal Advisor at the New Zealand Treasury, advising on various strategic economic policy issues.
David has a PhD in Public Policy, and a Master in Public Policy degree, from Harvard University, as well as a Master of Commerce degree in Economics from the University of Auckland. David was named as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2008, and was the University of Auckland’s inaugural Young Alumnus of the Year in 2006.
Vanessa Sorenson was appointed GM of Microsoft New Zealand in February 2020. A passionate advocate for Aotearoa, Vanessa is responsible for ensuring Microsoft empowers all its customers and partners to achieve more. Vanessa joined Microsoft in October 2017, after more than two decades at Spark, New Zealand’s largest telco. In her first role at Microsoft as Director of Enterprise, Sorenson was tasked with driving business growth, forging strong relationships, managing Microsoft’s large Enterprise sales team and working closely with partners and key stakeholders.Even with decades of tech experience, Vanessa doesn’t consider herself a ‘classic techie’ – rather she is driven by what technology can do for all New Zealanders. She is a noted champion of diversity and inclusion across the ICT industry, encouraging change, fostering diversity and inclusion, driven by the belief that D&I is not optional but essential.Having carved out an extraordinary career that has included both wins and losses, Sorenson has committed herself to a lifetime of actively mentoring other businesswomen to become the best they can be.Outside of work, Vanessa is passionate about education, championing equal access to technology for all children and encouraging girls to embrace STEM.