Why a returning Kiwi should be positive about NZ’s tech landscape

A meeting this week got me thinking. I met a senior technology leader who has returned to NZ after being in the UK for the past 28 years. Her experiences led her to providing executive and board level technical strategy and governance to implement large scale business improvement via digital transformation.

Initially in finance, she has instigated enterprise level change for world renowned banks, set up the IT Transformation practice for a Big 4 consultancy and has been the Head of Tech Strategy for a leading Broadcast and Media organisation.

It’s an incredibly rich and diverse CV and she has no intention of paring back her skill set to live out an idyllic lifestyle on Waiheke Island. No, she is fired with ambition and wants to bring all her operational excellence to bear in NZ.

Our conversation veered towards what is out there for her type of role. It’s one where a large enterprise’s main agenda is digital innovation and transformation, and the requirement is not just board level strategy but in-depth technical acumen.

We discussed some obvious disadvantages in the scale of NZ’s economy compared to larger one’s overseas, but also some major positives. And, on the eve of the 2023 Rugby World Cup I am inspired by the All Blacks and their dominance that transcends rugby, as the world’s most consistently successful team across any sport*.

What could New Zealand’s IT industry possibly have in common with rugby, you ask? Well, let’s explore!


Now it’s fair to say that with an election looming, high inflation and corresponding interest rates, global instability, and a bloody long wet winter it just doesn’t feel that great at the moment. But do New Zealand’s sporting professionals ever waver in their confidence and enthusiasm? Of course not. Our IT industry boasts a highly educated and skilled workforce with a strong focus on digital transformation initiatives.

Let’s not forget the quality of life and natural beauty make NZ an attractive country for talent from around the world. We should not be in fear of a brain drain but realise that we are a destination of choice for many.

The All Blacks are known for their winning culture, and this mindset extends beyond the rugby field. It’s a commitment to excellence and continuous improvement that is shared by our best enterprises. They’re not just looking to get the job done; they’re aiming for IT greatness. We have a great deal to feel confident about.


Rugby is a game that requires quick thinking and adaptability, and the All Blacks excel in this area. Similarly, New Zealand’s IT professionals are known for their resourcefulness. For many organisations the “number 8 wire” mentality has been a virtue but as we move into a new era of IT, embracing amongst other things the world of AI, it’s no longer about just making it work. The emphasis is on implementing the platforms, the strategy, roadmap, operating models, and enterprise architecture to embrace constant change.

Rugby is often played in unpredictable weather conditions, and the All Blacks have learned to adapt. The last few years have highlighted how important it is to manage unexpected challenges.

New Zealand’s size and geographic isolation can make it an ideal testbed for new digital technologies and products. Enterprises can pilot projects in a controlled environment before scaling up globally.

The positivity at the recent CIO conference, where we heard many examples of industry leaders embracing enterprise-wide digital transformation and fostering a culture of innovation and agility, showed that we are not just in it to participate. Like the All Blacks, they want to deliver a world-class solution that stands out in the global IT arena. It’s the pursuit of excellence that drives them forward.

New Zealand

There is something intrinsically good about being from New Zealand. I once played rugby for Harlow’s 5th team (I’m a footballer not a rugby player). A new guy came into the club, his name was Dave, and Dave said he was from NZ. He got a trial that week in the 2nd team. He was rubbish and played with me in the 5ths the following week. Apart from Dave almost ruining it, the reputation of NZ is world renowned.

Our focus on sustainability and commitment to renewable energy sources aligns with the global trend toward environmentally responsible business practices. This can enhance an enterprise’s reputation and competitiveness in the digital era.

We have seen New Zealand’s data centre market boom with both Amazon and Microsoft looking to have local facilities and take advantage of NZs natural advantages, political stability, and ease of doing business. This infrastructure is crucial for enabling advanced digital technologies such as IoT, AI, and cloud computing.

So, there you have it! New Zealand might be a small country in terms of population, but when it comes to IT projects, we’re punching above our weight class. Just like the mighty All Blacks, Kiwi IT professionals bring a winning attitude, adaptability, and teamwork to every project they tackle.

I’m looking forward to reaching out to our industry leaders to discuss their thoughts because, if they are keen on a returning kiwi, similar to Sir Graham Henry after leading Wales and the Lions, bringing all that experience back to a motivated New Zealand team and leading them to world dominance, I know just the person.

* If we lose to France in the morning or I don’t get this blog out this afternoon I’ll look pretty silly.

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