Strategic Advisory Board

Learn more about the members of the NZAI Strategic Advisory Board below.

The Strategic Advisory Board supports the NZAI by acting as a central point of linkage between the NZAI and leaders outside the University sphere. Advisers bring expertise and connections from the private, social and public sector to a range of countries in Asia and different New Zealand stakeholders. Their achievements reflect a commitment to enhancing New Zealand-Asia relations through promoting increased knowledge of Asia and interest in Asia among New Zealanders. Working with the Director and NZAI staff, advisers provide advice and support that furthers the NZAI’s mission to enhance engagement and understanding between New Zealand and Asia.

Mitchell Pham, Chairperson

Mitchell Pham is a director of the Augen Software Group in New Zealand and Vietnam, and cofounder of the Kiwi Connection Tech Hub – a platform for NZ technology businesses to accelerate engagement with Southeast Asia. He is a cofounder of Smart Links Swiss – a tech company solving real world problems with blockchain technology, and – a global community-driven online review ecosystem for reviewers, professionals and businesses, powered and connected by blockchain.

In public, Mitchell serves as the chair of the NZ Technology Industry Association (NZTech) and the NZ Financial Technology Innovation Community (FinTechNZ). He is a cofounder of the NZ Health IT Cluster (NZHIT), InsurTechNZ and the Global InsurTech Alliance (GITA), and an adviser at the Asia New Zealand Foundation. Formerly, he was an adviser at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and a trustee of the Asia New Zealand Foundation.

In business, Mitchell is a New Zealand Trade & Enterprise (NZTE) Beachheads Adviser in technology business for Southeast Asia. He is also a member of the Ethnic People in Commerce (EPICNZ) network, the NZ Asian Leaders (NZAL) forum, and the NZ Superdiversity Council. Globally, he is a member of the Strategic Alliance Vietnamese Ventures International (SAVVi) network and an executive of the global Vietnamese diaspora business network (BAOOV). In 2018, Mitchell joined the University of Auckland Business School as its first 'Entrepreneur-in-Residence'.

Internationally, Mitchell is recognised in leadership as a World Class New Zealander by KEA Global, an Asia 21 Fellow by the Asia Society, and a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.

Chye Kiah Heng, Deputy Chairperson

Chye Heng has a wealth of experience in strategic, financial and risk management gained through his role as CFO of Beca for more than 30 years. He was instrumental in Beca’s international growth (particularly across the Asia-Pacific region), and drove the evolution of the firm’s corporate governance framework and its much-heralded employee ownership scheme. He currently leads Beca’s legal team globally, is a director and trustee of various Beca entities, oversees the Beca share scheme and chairs the Beca Superannuation Trust. Chye Heng is a fellow of both CPA Australia and of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand. At the University of Auckland, Chye Heng is an adjunct professor in the Graduate School of Management.

Amarit Charoenphan

Amarit, a.k.a, Aim, is a Thai angel investor, advisor, and founding board member of the Thailand Business Angel Network, the largest angel investment association in Thailand where he is the Vice President of Thailand Ecosystem Development. Through his Investment Holding and Innovation Advisory Company, Aim Ventures and various angel syndicates that he is a part of, he has invested in over 40 startups and funds combined, and bring with him over a decade of experience in the technology startup ecosystem as he works to support the next generation of startups and ecosystem initiatives in emerging industry verticals such as Climate tech, Health and Wellbeing, Food and Agriculture, Space Tech Web 3.0 as well as Web 2.0.

Currently, he is a Visiting Lecturer at and teaching a subject on Commercializing High Tech Entrepreneurship. He is also the Advisor to Omelet, an award winning innovation builder based in Bangkok, Thailand ( and Former ASEAN Director of Impact Collective (, a community-driven investment and acceleration project for impact-driven startups focusing on opportunities in Asia. IC invests in, supports, and connects impact tech companies that are solving global challenges to accelerate the positive impact in the world.

In his Web 2.0 life, he was best known as the person who started Thailand's first coworking space in 2012 that became Thailand’s only Google for Startups Partner Hub and one of Southeast Asia's best and largest tech conferences with close to 20,000 attendees. His passion for the startup community and to help entrepreneurs grow has led him to angel invests in many of the top Thai startups and actively coaches over 1000+ different startups founders over the past decade. He is also a Techstars All-Stars Community Builder, Fellow of the Edmund Hillary Fellowship (EHF), Obama Leader: Asia Pacific and has been named as one of Forbes Asia 30 Under 30: Enterprise Technology, and Thailand Startup Enabler of The Year 2016.

Celia Caughey

Celia Caughey practised as a lawyer before serving as New Zealand Trade Commissioner to Vietnam and Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City, where she lived for seven years. For over 20 years, she has been the fundraising coordinator for the Ba Chieu Home, a home for disadvantaged girls in Vietnam. Celia has also been involved as former Deputy Chair and Vietnam Chapter Chair in running the ASEAN New Zealand Business Council. She currently serves on the board of several charities including Auckland City Mission, Caughey Preston Trust and NZ War Memorial Museum Le Quesnoy Strategic Advisory Group.  Celia is often involved in projects celebrating Vietnamese culture and speaks on understanding Vietnamese culture.

Read more about Celia.

Jerry He

Jerry is building his governance career in the public & private sector. He provides strategic governance, cross-cultural benefits, digital leadership and global connections for Kiwi businesses and beyond. Jerry's purpose is to ensure adequate efforts for diversity and inclusion are made at policy and strategic levels. 

His professional involvements include: founding Chairman of APAC MSMEs Trade Coalition. AMTC is Singapore based NPF trade facilitation that services 3000+ members across 27 countries; Independent Director of Open Polytechnic New Zealand and Board Advisor of New Zealand Shareholders Association.

Read more about Jerry.

Ian Kennedy

Ian Kennedy is Chair of the Japan New Zealand Business Council. As a former career diplomat, he was posted three times to Japan, most recently as Ambassador from 2007 to 2012. His other overseas postings were to the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu from 1992 to 1994, Turkey, Israel and Jordan (Ambassador) from 1996 to 1999, and Australia (Deputy High Commissioner) from 2004 to 2007. Ian Kennedy is a partner with I.S.K. Associates, a consultancy business specialising in Japan. He is also a board member of the Asia NZ Foundation and Honorary Chairman of the "Support-our-Kids" home stay programme, established in 2011 to support children following the Tohoku earthquake and the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

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Jo Kim

Jo Kim is a lawyer in Auckland. Her specialties include commercial property, subdivisions, overseas investment, construction, and immigration. Additionally, Josephine Kim advises on emission trading schemes. She is a committee member of the Korea New Zealand Business Council and is deeply involved in the New Zealand Korean community. She is a member of the International Korean Lawyers Association and is on the Board of the Korean Cinerama Trust, organising the bi-annual Korean Film Festival to promote co-production of movies by Korean and New Zealand film-makers.

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Indradi Soemardjan

Indradi "Indi ' Soemardjan is a GRI Certified Sustainability Professional based in Singapore and Indonesia. As a Managing Consultant at ERM, he has provided consultancy services to various multi-national companies and international development organizations with a focus in Sustainable Finance, Corporate Sustainability & Climate Change for various sectors in Asia Pacific. He has also worked for a leading private equity firm in Jakarta, handling business operations and turnaround management in various sectors. Indi served as the Treasurer of the Sustainable Coffee Platform of Indonesia (SCOPI), which is dedicated to supply-chain traceability, economic viability for farmers, environmental conservation and social responsibility, and is supported by the Global Coffee Platform. He is also a Global Advisory Board Member of AGREA, an agriculture-focused social enterprise. Indi is one of seven Indonesians who was awarded at the New Zealand ASEAN 40th Anniversary Awards in 2015 for contributing to New Zealand’s deepening relationship with ASEAN, notably through the ASEAN Young Business Leaders Initiatives. He also has participated in the 2nd Indonesia-New Zealand 15 + 15 Dialogue. Indi is currently treasurer of which has held joint ballet training with the New Zealand School of Dance in Indonesia. In 2018 Indi was appointed Council Chairman for the Indonesia-New Zealand Friendship Council.

Read more about Indradi.