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NZTech CEO: 'We don't have enough big ICT companies'

Sathya Mithra Ashok | Feb. 4, 2014
Candace Kinser, CEO of NZ Technology Industry Association (NZTech), chats with ComputerWorld NZ on the important issues facing the country's ICT sector and how the association is working with both the government and the industry to enable faster, stronger growth in the future.

We fly into the radar in many areas and we come up with some interesting innovations in agriculture and cloud space and that sort of thing. On one hand it is very good and it provides us with a neat little collection of eclectic companies. But on the other hand it is also very difficult in many ways to scale those companies.

While scale is one area, the second area is that we are so used to playing in these niche, fixed little backyard areas that sometimes it is hard to get that niche idea to be a multi million dollar company. But if we start looking at other opportunities and competing with some of the bigger bolder ideas, we can go a long way.

That's a tricky balance to achieve. For every big company, there needs to be innumerable small firms. We need those. But we have got tonnes of small and niche companies. What we don't really have enough of are the big ones. We have got a few of them, but we need more of those. The ones that you name off they have become audacious companies in their own right and that was because the founders had the vision. I think we need a few more to be financially able to back those really big goals and dreams to create the next mobile phone or perhaps or the next Navman of the industry. We need more of them now and I don't see a lot of them coming through.

We are a small population, without a lot of money, without heavy deep skilled talent, we are far from our markets and we talk kind of funny to Americans. If you can think of all the things that work in your favour when you have an office in Silicon Valley, we are just the opposite of that.

But we still manage to have some amazing success stories and to win despite the odds, which is fantastic.

Q: Why do young Kiwis not see technology as a good career choice and how should this be addressed?

CK: Look at the education and kids. They are in these amazing little bubbles of creativity and imagination and they are encouraged to draw and finger paint and expand every ounce of their horizon. However, once they start down the path of traditional education, it rapidly becomes walking in a certain way, staying within the lines and listening to people talk about only certain possible solutions to problems. All of a sudden the creativity gets channelled into process. You need that, you need a baseline education, not everybody can be an artist all of their lives.

 

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