New Year’s Honours for Business School alumni

Congratulations to our six business alumni who received New Year’s Honours in 2023.

Mitchell Pham
Alumnus and entrepreneur-in-residence Mitchell Pham, was one of the six business alumni named in the 2023 New Year Honours list.

To be a Companion of the Queen’s Service Order:

DOBSON, Mr John Robert

For services to people with disabilities

Mr John Dobson has been a driving force behind Life Unlimited, originally the Disabled Living Centre (Waikato) Trust, as a founding Trustee from 1979 and Chair since 1991.

Mr Dobson led the growth and change to Life Unlimited in 1997 to reflect the wider scope of services offered to the disability sector nationally. He has performed this role alongside his profession as an accountant. He brought together three charities providing various support services for people with disabilities to become one organisation with a comprehensive business framework. Contract opportunities were developed with government agencies to provide more consistent funding streams and he led the organisation from a $300,000 per annum revenue to a business of more than $6 million. He was instrumental to initiatives such as a ‘total mobility’ system around Hamilton with ramped vans as taxis, until local taxis took over this service, and the renting of a store where disabled people could sell their wares and learn skills. He led the acquisition of Hearing Therapy services, with Life Unlimited now providing free national Hearing Therapy, autism information and advice, Advocacy to Mobility and disability retail outlets, Waikato community programmes and needs assessment service coordination in the Hutt Valley and Gisborne. Mr Dobson has chaired Hamilton Gardens Development Trust since 2012, overseeing significant fundraising.

To be an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit:

DONNELLY, Mr Brian Patrick

For services to social housing

Mr Brian Donnelly was Executive Director of the inaugural New Zealand Housing Foundation from establishment in 2002 until 2019, since continuing to advise on housing.
Mr Donnelly guided trustees through the development of the Vision, Mission and Values of the organisation, which has seen the Housing Foundation focus on delivering real housing outcomes, empowering communities and create innovative affordable housing solutions while acknowledging Te Tiriti o Waitangi. He was primarily responsible for bringing into New Zealand a working model of shared ownership housing, which has been replicated by other organisations nationally and on which recent government shared housing schemes have been based. He has overseen growth in net assets from a few hundred thousand dollars in 2002 to more than $70 million. His partnering with others has resulted in many successful products and services now widely adopted by Community Housing Providers nationally. He was a member of the Shareholders Ministers Advisory Group on Housing in 2010/2011. He has been a director of BRANZ, a Trustee of Queenstown Lakes Community Housing Trust, Chair of the Wilson Home for housing those with disabilities, and inaugural Chair of the Tamaki Regeneration Company focused on the redevelopment of the Glen Innes community. More broadly, Mr Donnelly has been involved with rugby administration on the North Shore and with the New Zealand Rugby Union.

The Queen’s Service Medal:

HIGHAM, Mr James Richard Strachan (Richard)

For services to rugby and education

Mr Richard Higham teaches on the Graduate School of Business MBA at the University of Otago and has been a member of the Otago University Rugby Football Club (OURFC) since 1973, including time as Club Captain, Vice-President and President between 1978 and 1995.
Mr Higham coached several teams for OURFC in the 1970s. He has convened the Clubrooms subcommittee and helped organise the 125th Anniversary Celebrations in 2009. He has been a member and Secretary of the OURFC Rugby Foundation Trust since 2009. He was integral in fundraising for new clubrooms in the mid-2000s, travelling New Zealand to host events and encouraging peer-to-peer fundraising. Since 2016 he has created and self-published the OURFC ‘Blooz Nooz’ e-newsletter covering history and current events, with more than 245 editions to date. He has been on the management committee of the OURFC Light Blues Association for alumni since 1986 and was President in 2004/2005. He has been on the Executive of the University of the Third Age (U3A) Dunedin and has volunteered with the University Club since 2000, which facilitates business, city council and university relationships. Mr Higham has been active with the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra Friends, chairing the group from 2011 to 2019 and organising collaborations with other Dunedin arts organisations, presentations and successful fundraising.

To be an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit:

MAZZOLENI, Ms Anita Jane

For services to corporate governance

Ms Anita Mazzoleni has had an extensive career as a lawyer, chartered accountant, independent company director and corporate finance advisor specialising in the evaluation and funding of investments, particularly in infrastructure.
Ms Mazzoleni held significant roles as Director and Chair of Audit and Risk and Finance committees for major public companies, non-governmental organisations and iwi businesses. She was a Commerce Commissioner for nine years, focusing on telecommunications. She was Corporate Finance Manager for ECNZ and Acting Finance Director and General Counsel for Contact Energy Ltd following its separation from ECNZ. She was on the Board of Civil Aviation Authority and Aviation Security Services from 2010 to 2012 and a Director of ACC from 2014 to 2021. Ms Mazzoleni was a director on the Boards of Ngāti Whatua o Orakei Corporate Ltd, Ngāti Whatua o Orakei Whai Maia Ltd and chaired the commercial arm of Ngā Maunga Whakahii o Kaipara, also chairing the Audit Committees of these organisations.

To be an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit:

PHAM, Mr Khoa Dang (Mitchell)

For services to the technology sector and New Zealand-Asia relations

Mr Mitchell Pham has been contributing to the technology sector in New Zealand for 30 years and building New Zealand-Asia relationships for 20 years.

Mr Pham is a business and social entrepreneur in the technology industry. He serves as Director of CodeHQ in New Zealand and Vietnam, through which he has been innovating and leading in building New Zealand’s international capability and resource capacity for scalability and speed-to-market in the technology sector. He is a co-founder of the Kiwi Connection Tech Hub, a platform for technology businesses to accelerate presence and engagement in Southeast Asia. He chaired NZTech and co-founded and launched several industry networks and collaborations including New Zealand Digital Health Association (formerly New Zealand Health IT Cluster), various TechNZ collaborations across education, agriculture and insurance, and the New Zealand ASEAN Business Alliance. He champions the technology industry’s roles in Digital Inclusion and Environment-Social-Governance. As Chair of the Digital Council, he contributed to the government’s Digital Strategy for New Zealand. He is an honorary advisor to the Asia New Zealand Foundation and an Entrepreneur-In-Residence with the University of Auckland. Mr Pham is recognised internationally as a World Class New Zealander by KEA, a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, an Asia 21 Fellow and Global Council Member of the Asia Society.

To be a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit:

ROONEY, Mr Christopher Stephen

For services to education

Mr Christopher Rooney has worked at Liston College in Auckland for 45 years and has been Principal since 1999, overseeing growth and high achievement.
Mr Rooney has overseen increased academic success of Māori and Pacific students, with Māori the highest achieving group in the school, as well as significant expansion of facilities and upgrading of sports fields. He has introduced restorative justice practices and ensured staff were trained in their use, transforming student/staff relationships in the school community and making it a more inclusive and caring environment for learning. He was Chairman of Achievement at Waitakere (A@W) from 2013 to 2015, a group of West Auckland Principals, and has been a member since 1999. He was Chairman of the National Catholic Secondary Principal’s Association from 2016 to 2021 and of the Auckland Catholic Secondary Principal’s Association from 2017 to 2021. He is on the Liston College Foundation Fund Board, the Board of Learning Network New Zealand, and a committee member of the Ned Covich Trust. Mr Rooney has been active with the Auckland Secondary Schools Principal’s Association.

Read about the other alumni, staff and friends of the University who received New Year's Honours this year.