COVER STORY : 35 BELOW – Young leaders to watch

They represent cultural smorgasbord running the full gamut of leadership styles: From unassuming, consultative, introspection to dynamic, full-frontal assault. Some lead through quiet action. Others dream audacious dreams and magnetise those around them to their cause.
To select these young leaders we went out to organisations that have robust mechanisms in place to spot, assess, nurture or reward our nation’s emerging leaders: The Sir Peter Blake Trust, Leadership New Zealand, the New Zealand Institute of Management, the Aspiring Leaders Forum, Creative New Zealand and Excelerator. It’s our part in the inaugural New Zealand Leadership Week www.nzleadershipweek.org which kicks off later this month.
The final selection of these leaders remains ours. While there is strong tilt towards business, their involvement spans every niche: from working with at-risk youth, to the environment, politics, education, cross-cultural communications, design, sport, law, art and even aeronautics.
Most remain refreshingly open and receptive. They are keenly aware they’ve still got lots to learn. Some are being nurtured, stretched and challenged on formal leadership programmes. Others are going it alone, shoulder tapping people they admire to mentor and guide them.
They are all aged below 35. We present them here in gloriously random order.

KIM ACLAND
As its general manager, Kim Acland heads up the “fervently New Zealand and artistically adventurous” Auckland Theatre Company.
Admirers say she is not afraid to confront challenges, address them and move on. In testing environment she focuses on the long-term good of the organisation and has the courage to make important and difficult decisions. All this on an ego the size of pinhead.
In her few years in the role she’s already placed the company on much firmer financial footing. She has managed the company’s recovery and ensured its survival. Importantly for the company’s long-term prospects, observers say that she works in genuine partnership with the Auckland Theatre Company’s artistic director Colin McColl.

EMELINE AFEAKI-MAFILEO
Described by one observer as compassionate and woman of stature, Emeline Afeaki-Mafileo sees need and gears up for action. People who know her say her humble and unassuming approach belies her strong convictions and ability to get things done. Afeaki-Mafileo’s forte is her ability to gather people around her, encourage, train and then mobilise them for action.
She’s making significant contribution to the economic transformation and development of young people in South Auckland through her company Affirming Works, Pacific youth mentoring and training organisation.
Afeaki-Mafileo, who now has Master of Philosophy majoring in social science from Massey University, first hit the streets as youth worker when she was 19.
Her work has also led to the establishment of the Fofola Consultancy which contributes to policy development and played vital part towards the Pacific Youth Development Strategy for Auckland which Prime Minister Helen Clark launched last year. Afeaki-Mafileo is now being asked to help write policy internationally for Pacific Island nations and is said to be highly esteemed by our current Government.
Afeaki-Mafileo also takes leadership role in the Pacific community by serving as an advisor to number of community organisations: Community advisor to the Minister of Pacific Island Affairs Phil Goff; member of the National Advisory Committee to the Ministry of Social Development, Family and Community Services; Youth Court and Youth Court Pacific Community Liaison Service; and Pacific representative on the Youth Mentoring Association.
Most recently she’s been working as “youth collaborator” as part of government-funded response to growing gang problems in South Auckland’s Mangere, Otara and Flat Bush, where man was killed last November.

MARCUS AKUHATA-BROWN
Renowned for his compelling speeches and great motivational skills, Marcus Akuhata-Brown has spent much of his working life addressing the needs of young people.
He has travelled extensively internationally as both national and international representative and delegate on youth-related concerns. He was director on the international board of the World Alliance for Citizen Partnership (Civicus), an international organisation which focuses on strengthening citizen action and civil society throughout the world.
From 1998 to 2001 he headed the Commonwealth Youth Caucus whose programmes help young people play greater part in economic and social development. And he has led number of other innovative alternative education programmes addressing the learning needs of youth at risk and young offenders.
People who know him praise his uncanny ability to connect with, and motivate, people from varied backgrounds. qualified teacher, he is seen by some as strong role model with highly developed social conscience. He has the ability to think strategically and is creative problem solver.
Akuhata-Brown grew up on the East Coast. His father is Ngati Porou (Tuwhakairiora) from Te Araroa on the East Cape and his mother has English and Welsh ancestry.
Now back in New Zealand, Akuhata-Brown founded Tukaha Global Consultancy in 2000 and is currently involved in speaking and consultancy work, land development in Te Araroa and personal studies through Te Wananga-o-Raukawa.

ANUSHIYA AYINGARAN
Openly and refreshingly ambitious, Anushiya Ayingaran’s leadership style is empathetic and inclusive. She’s already made big impact at the not-for-profit Nurse Maude Association where she’s general manager corporate services. Ayingaran has cut through cocktail of conservative attitudes and funding and political pressures to re-energise staff and win respect.
Notable achievements include process improvement project within the association’s Homecare Service and the development of the association’s strategic plan.
People who know her say she’s got outstanding training, staff mentoring and communication skills. Her positive and action-oriented approach won Ayingaran the NZIM Young Executive of the Year Award two years ago. Since then, in move that will ensure her place in Nurse Maude’s annals, she’s broken free of 110 years of history and launched the association’s first ever branch outside its home territory of Canterbury.
After three years in her current job she’s now making no secret of her desire to take on more senior role. Ayingaran has just been elected to the board of NZIM Canterbury.
She’s on the record as stating that she wants to become CEO or GM of an innovative organisation and in 20 years’ time is aiming for directorships in organisations where she can serve the community.

PRIVAHINI BRADOO
Privahini Bradoo has packed lot into her eight years in New Zealand. She quickly notched up biomedical science degree from Auckland University and topped it with PhD in neuroscience. She also cottoned on to the yawning gap between the worlds of business and science and has spearheaded two initiatives to help bridge the divide.
In 2003, despite her lack of business knowledge at that stage, she was chosen to become the inaugural CEO of spark*, University of Auckland venture aimed at encouraging entrepreneurship. Bradoo also co-founded and led the establishment of biotech innovation network Chiasma.
Her reputation as hard worker means that Bradoo leads by example. She is said to engage people with her enthusiasm and modesty, and her leadership is genuine, natural and authentic. Her enthusiasm helps her build momentum for ideas in an atmosphere of possibility and success.
She won the inaugural Dean’s Excellence Award in 2004 for outstanding leadership and innovation in the development of an entrepreneurial culture amongst staff and students.
That same year North & South magazine profiled her as one of eight promising young New Zeal

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