Pro-bono business advisory group formed

Small to medium enterprises (SMEs) in New Zealand who are facing difficulties resulting from the Covid-19 global pandemic can now consult with a free advisory group made up of a team of experts from the University of Auckland Business School.

The group of academics who have many years of collective experience, between them have established a pro-bono service in response to the ongoing challenges many of the country’s SMEs are currently facing.

Professor Susan Watson, Acting Dean of the Business School says she fully supports the initiative.

“The Covid-19 pandemic is now a health and business emergency. While we can’t help with the former, I am really pleased that academics from the Business School can use their expertise and knowledge to help with the latter,” she says.

The advisory group are from a diverse range of business backgrounds, and can assist in various areas such as human resource management, marketing, and international business and finance.

If you need help and advice, please contact Antje Fiedler ( with some background about your business, and outline your current challenges. All information will be confidential within the pro-bono advisory group (listed below).

Name: Cristiano Bellavitis, PhD
Background: PhD from City, University of London. Corporate finance at CVS Partners. Former entrepreneur. Research on entrepreneurial finance and initial coin offerings.
Current roles: Senior Lecturer of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Auckland. Portfolio manager at Integer Investments.
Expertise: Finance and entrepreneurial finance. For his free cash flow projection tool adjusted for Covid-19 click here

Name: Brent Burmester, PhD
Background: PhD, University of Auckland, LLB Victoria University of Wellington.
Current roles: Lecturer of International Business, University of Auckland. Associate Editor critical perspectives on international business.
Expertise: International business in international politics, business-government relations.

Name: Jane (Jinyoung) Choi, PhD
Background: PhD in Marketing from the University of Auckland. Research on consumer brand confusion and colour. Worked in banking, retail, hospitality, social media marketing, and market research consultancy.
Current roles: Professional Teaching Fellow in the Graduate School of Management, University of Auckland. Teaching Marketing Management and supervising student consulting projects in their final capstone course.
Expertise: Marketing management and consumer behaviour.

Name: Antje Fiedler, PhD
Background: PhD, University of Auckland, Research on SME growth and internationalisation, with a focus on Asian markets.
Current roles: Senior Lecturer at the Graduate School of Management, University of Auckland, Director of the China Studies Centre (University of Auckland).
International business, SME growth.

Name: Deepika Jindal, PhD
PhD from University of Auckland. Research on work engagement, job crafting, and performance. Worked for 10 years in HRM at Trident Limited (a large Indian manufacturing conglomerate).
Current roles:
Professional Teaching Fellow at the University of Auckland.Vice-President (Auckland branch) at Human Resources New Zealand (HRNZ). Project Manager at New Zealand Asia Institute, for annual Asia Savvy conference.
Human Resource Management, work engagement and job crafting.

Name: Jon MacKay, PhD
Background: PhD from University of Waterloo. Analytics at Economical Insurance; IT systems & software development at BlackBerry. Research on small firm growth, business analytics.
Current roles:
 Lecturer of Business Analytics at the University of Auckland.
 Business analytics

Name: Jo Wright, MBA
15 years as a mid-tier ERP / financial / distribution / logistics / job costing/ project  manager and consultant (exo-net – now MYOB Exo, SAP Business One), Operations Manager / Technical Services Manager in a range of technical industries including datamining, cloud based infrastructure and ERP
Current roles:
Professional Teaching Fellow in International Business at the University of
Auckland, PhD Candidate in International Business
Systems, operations and International Business


Individual staff members within the University of Auckland Business School have offered to provide guidance, information and advice (guidance) on a pro bono basis to support businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the staff will provide guidance in good faith, and use reasonable endeavours to support businesses who approach them, the University and its staff make no representations regarding their knowledge of individual businesses or their experience in particular sectors.  Staff will base their guidance on information provided to them by the relevant business and their own knowledge and experience.  Businesses who seek guidance from the University staff accept responsibility for making an independent assessment of guidance provided, and may need to seek further advice from professional services firms in respect of legal, accounting and tax issues.

Any guidance offered will be provided by individual staff and will not be reviewed or approved by the University of Auckland. The University of Auckland does not endorse or recommend any specific commercial product, process, or service that may be recommended by members of its staff.  Neither the individual staff nor the University of Auckland will be liable (whether in contract, for negligence, in equity or otherwise) to any business (including its directors, employees and contractors) or to any third party for any information contained in or omitted from guidance that is provided, or for any direct or indirect losses of any kind arising from the use of or reliance on guidance provided.