As I See It: Divya Dhar

What’s the one big thing that today’s leaders could do to make real difference for tomorrow’s New Zealanders?
Simply, more R&D. New Zealand is small country but full of capable, smart and talented people. Best of all, we have an incredible attitude to innovation. I think we need to formalise this, and streamline science and business.
Since we are small I believe for us to keep pace with strong growth rate we need to get serious about research and development, and generate some niche markets.
We need to create R&D hub, where innovative, creative and scientific-minded people want to live, work and play. And then we need to pick some industries for them to do this in. I think we should be backing the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. With the rise of Asia, there is huge role these industries could be playing there.
I don’t believe this role will peak for another 10 to 15 years. But if we want to benefit from it, we need to be strategic, and start to develop the infrastructure and hubs for it now.

What needs to change for them to do this?

We need to start thinking collaboratively and strategically. We need to rethink our partners and areas of growth and realise if we are to engage with Asia old methods of interactions won’t work.
This requires competencies in collaborative leadership style which can manage cross-sector and trans-national conversations.
We need serious funding in creating this hub which brings in key players from overseas to New Zealand and uses this to attract our highly educated and talented recent graduates to stay in New Zealand. 

How hopeful are you that you will see such changes in your lifetime?

Very hopeful. I certainly believe if we don’t make these changes, we will continue to fall down on our OECD rankings and lose our best talent overseas. M

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