As I See It : Sue Watson

What’s New Zealand next major challenge?
New Zealand’s next major challenge is to transform the New Zealand economy. Historically, we have evolved as commodities-based, low-value economy with disproportionate income distribution. This is socially, environmentally and economically unsustainable and will result in New Zealand continuing to decline on all major international welfare indicators.
The challenge is to restore New Zealand to its place amongst OECD countries with the most equal societies and to do what we have never successfully achieved – to become highly productive economy through the internationalisation of innovation and intellectual capital. Like Sir Paul Callaghan, I aspire for New Zealand to be “the place where talent wants to live”.

What do we need to do about this?
My view on how we address this question is informed by my perspective as global CEO of Kea, the Kiwi Expat Association. In this role I’m privileged to be in daily contact with Kiwi expats and New Zealand-based business leaders who share similar aspirations for New Zealand and who have the connections, capability and capital to contribute to our country’s economic growth and development.
What’s more, these people want to help. Kea’s role is to leverage this expat network for the benefit of NZ Inc. It is not the complete solution but Kea is vital part of New Zealand’s innovation eco-system and pathway to the internationalisation of export-focused SMEs. As well as the ‘elders’ who have been leading New Zealand business for several decades, we are seeing new generation of Kiwi entrepreneurs emerge through the Kea network who are able to inspire the Kiwi business leaders of the future.

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