A handful of talent: focus on five 40 under 40s

Engineers and artists, doctors and entrepreneurs, musicians and youth workers, the 2020 40 under 40 are an exceptional bunch. Ingenio magazine meets five.

Sara-Jane Elika is a young business leader.
Sara-Jane Elika is a young business leader. Photo: Elise Manahan

Business leader: Media consultant

Sara-Jane Elika’s consultancy ECG specialises in Indigenous leadership, the Pacific economy and media management. She draws on her practical and creative strengths in music, business, community, faith and leadership for all that she does.

With a foundation in music, Sara-Jane was able to give full expression to her passions while studying a law and arts conjoint degree, then postgraduate honours in ethnomusicology. She says it made her ‘the different one’, but she wanted to do what she enjoyed and the University was able to accommodate her when there were clashes. 

Sara-Jane won Best Pacific Island Album at the 2003 NZ Music Awards and also Best Pacific Female Artist at the inaugural Pacific Music Awards in 2005, with the first of her three solo albums, Sara-Jane. Other achievements include managing an international sports agency and a stint as production manager for TVNZ news and current affairs.

But it wasn’t just her career keeping her busy. “Being a mother to four children, including twins, certainly built my resilience,” she says.

As interim CEO of the Pacific Media Network, she negotiated to have the network’s Pacific Divas tour, the best of Pacific female artists, screen on mainstream Prime TV. She also led a team of 70 through lockdown.

“It was very, very intense, so I’m really glad I’ve had the opportunity to be able to come through that.”

She is chair of Community Law South Auckland and a director of charitable trusts Good Shepherd NZ and Failoa Famili, which both have a focus on women and girls. Her advice: “Put yourself out there and be prepared if opportunities come along.”

Sara-Jane says she would also like to have an Oprah-style TV show one day.

“I’d love to be involved with like-minded people discussing global thought leadership with those in Indigenous spaces.”

Tan Copsey

Disruptor/Innovator: Climate Nexus

Tan Copsey’s interest in the impact of climate change began at university, where he did his masters on New Zealand’s climate change policy.

“It was 2005 and I got a real sense that it was interesting, very vibrant and an area that would be absolutely essential and, frankly, full of lots of jobs for the next 20-30-40 years.”

Tan was right. Now he’s a senior director at Climate Nexus, a US organisation focused on communicating the effects of climate change. He has been in meetings with global leaders, CEOs, two former US secretaries of the Treasury, one former president, billionaire philanthropists and politicians.

After the Trump administration withdrew from the Paris Agreement, Climate Nexus created ‘We Are Still In’, signing up politicians and business leaders across the US. He says it’s possible to feel positive in the US because “what’s happening at the federal level isn’t always what’s happening at the state level”.

As head of communications for the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, he sat down with economists Jeremy Oppenheim, Michael Jacobs and Nicholas Stern to write the influential report Better Growth, Better Climate: The New Climate Economy.

Tan has also worked with former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, former US Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson and billionaire philanthropist Tom Steyer on the Risky Business Project, which examined the economic risks and opportunities of climate change in the US.

He says his masters research was a great foundation.

“Getting to know who thinks what and ringing them up or going to see them was crucial for everything I did afterwards.”

Shana Malio-Satele

Humanitarian: Youth well-being worker

Every weekend Shana Malio-Satele leaves Wellington, where she is a Partnered Delivery Manager with ACC, and returns to her home community in Auckland. There she works alongside a collective of Pacific youth who use their stories and experience to mobilise other rangatahi around pressing issues. 

When Covid-19 hit Auckland in August, she and South Seas Healthcare Pacific Youth created the ‘Bubblegum – Let’s Stick Together’ campaign. They set up a call centre in Ōtara, as well as a digital platform to support young people. Among the helpers were University of Auckland students packing up food parcels.

When Shana is out working in the community, she always has at least one of her family’s three grandchildren with her.

“I want them growing up knowing what is possible,” she says. “For them to understand that as Pacific children they can be trail-blazers in New Zealand.

“I know in my life I have benefited from having someone invest in and encourage me,” Shana says. “That’s why I do this work.”

As a first-generation Samoan New Zealander, Shana was encouraged to go to university. She remembers a critical moment at Auckland Law School when an aunt suggested she take time out every Wednesday, away from the library and lecture theatres, to go to Rosary Service at the Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Balmoral.

“She said I needed to keep my spiritual cup full if I was going to be successful.”

Shana completed her Arts and Law degrees and then masters in both Anthropology and Pacific Literature at the University in 2008. She was admitted to the Auckland High Court as a registered solicitor and barrister the same year.

“As much as learning at university is about using your head, it’s also about having the heart for it when things get challenging. It’s your heart and the unteachable things you grow up with that help you get through.”

In 2012, Shana joined the Great Potentials Foundation, a charity helping children, young people and families to realise potential, reduce disparities and break the cycle of disadvantage. She was appointed the Mentoring and Tutoring Education Scheme (MATES) programme manager. In 2015, she received a NZ Vodafone Foundation World of Difference Award, which was extended to 2016 and enabled her to lead the expansion of MATES nationally.

Shana is also a committee member of the J. R. McKenzie Trust’s Peter McKenzie Project, which is working towards reducing the number of children and whānau living in poverty. As the recipient of a NEXT Foundation Scholarship, she’s working on more youth-led community initiatives.

“Young Pacific people know their potential and are mobilising themselves as a community,” Shana says. “They’re asking themselves: ‘what does collective success look like for my family?’ It’s a more informed outlook and with it they are empowered to succeed.”

Shana’s ACC role in Wellington is to lead the development of Child and Youth Wellbeing strategies in primary and injury prevention.

“The choice to take up a management role in a crown entity was to en-hance my knowledge so I could be of more value to the community, based on what I learn and experience. I hope that in a couple of years, I’ll be able to come back to serve in a community-based role again.”

Mike Moka

Entrepreneur: Indigenous Growth Ltd

When Michael Moka (Ngāpuhi, Te Rarawa, Ngāti Hine and Mangaia of Cook Islands) was 15, he and girlfriend Toria lived in their car, in garages and with relatives while working multiple jobs to put themselves through school.

Michael became head prefect at Kelston Boys’ High and was involved in kapa haka and sport. He and Toria are now married and have a baby son, Raukura o Te Huia.

Michael’s consultancy, Indigenous Growth Limited, brings Indigenous values into organisations to tap into the leadership potential of employees.

“Leadership consultancy is mainly a Pākehā area. I saw organisations that had Māori leadership, but they go, ‘here’s a leadership programme that works for everyone, let’s just put Māori words in and call it a Māori leadership programme’ and they would put in a Māori facilitator if you were lucky.”

Indigenous Growth starts with Indigenous principles and overlays relevant executive principles. “We just flipped it around. It did take a while to get the model, but now it’s there everyone’s going, ‘this is common sense’.”

Michael works with big clients such as SkyCity and Fletcher Building, which have both won diversity awards for the programme.

While studying at the Business School, he was involved with student association Ngā Tauira Māori. It’s what he values most about his time at the University of Auckland.

“This is what I keep telling our people. ‘If you didn’t go to university, you better be good networkers.’ The greatest thing I got in those four years of study was 50 lifelong friends.

"When we can help each other out, it’s a lot easier to ask because you have that connection.”

Rosalie Stephens
Rosalie Stephens

Humanitarian: oncologist, medical researcher

Oncologist Dr Rosalie Stephens pushed for immunotherapy drugs to be funded for melanoma patients and advocates for treatments in New Zealand that are widely available overseas.

The School of Medicine graduate (2004) has studied tumour biology and evolution, achieving a Doctor of Medicine from the University of London. She works with cancer patients at the Auckland DHB and in her private practice, and is a Melanoma NZ board member.

“We need to focus on what we can do about the numbers of melanoma patients in New Zealand,” she says. “Avoiding sunburn in childhood is key.”

She says medicine’s sense of vocation and lifelong learning appealed. She also fondly remembers her time at the University.

“They took great care of us as people, as 18-year-olds; they were really kind. It set an example to us of compassion and kindness.

“There were also top scientists, so the academic side of things was very strong. A sound academic learning experience gives you confidence when you go into jobs.”

Completing her MD through the University of London in 2015 is her proudest achievement, because by then she had returned home for a 50-hour per week consultant job.

“I didn’t think I’d finish. I’d lost motivation, but I persisted, so I’m proud of that.”

Another achievement is her private oncology practice, established with colleagues in 2017, which integrates services such as physiotherapy and exercise into patient care.

Rosalie was drawn to her career after observing oncologists with their patients and realising it would allow her to have enduring relationships and be part of something significant for an individual and their family.

“The privilege of being part of something so important, not fleeting, is what drew me to it, even though it’s the worst and hardest bit, too.”

2020 40 Under 40
Business Leaders
Sara-Jane Elika Tan Copsey
Hamish Elmslie
Nurain Janah Mahmood Hikmet Hannah Hong
Sean Molloy Natalia Palamo Lydia Hascott
Michael Quirke Jimmy Chih-Hsien Peng Alex Kendall
Ivan Ravlich Dmitry Selitskiy William Lockie
Bridget Snelling Arash Tayebi Mike Moka
Talapo Uivaa Kanaway Yusingco  
Humanitarians Influencers Performers
Carl Adams Melissa Ansell-Bridges
Jane Arthur
Edith Amituanai
Kate Boylan Emma Foy
Howard Hunt Anand Chordia Malcolm Lakatani
Rosalie Stephens Isuru Fernando Emil Mcavoy
Shana Malio-Satele Jessica Pearless Tyla Amy Vaeau
Shruthi Vijayakumar Tupe Solomon-Tanoa’i  Luke Versalko
  Ane Tonga  

The above stories are five of the 2020 40 Under 40 University of Auckland alumni as they featured in the Spring 2020 edition of Ingenio magazine

All the profiles of 40 Under 40s.  

You can now nominate alumni for the 2021 40 Under 40.