SUMMIT speakers

Due to current travel and availability restrictions, speakers will be a combination of in-person, virtual and pre-recorded.  Speaker format will be confirmed closer to the Summit date.

Pamela Melroy

United States Air Force / NASA Astronaut serving as the Deputy Administrator of NASA

Pam Melroy is an aerospace executive with government and industry experience across civil, commercial, and national security space. She is a retired Air Force test pilot and former NASA astronaut and Space Shuttle commander.

Colonel Melroy received a Bachelor’s degree in Physics and Astronomy from Wellesley College and a Master of Science degree in Earth and Planetary Sciences from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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She flew the KC-10 for six years at Barksdale Air Force Base as an Air Force co-pilot, aircraft commander and instructor pilot. Colonel Melroy is a veteran of Operation Just Cause and Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, with more than 200 combat and combat support hours. After attending the Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, California, Colonel Melroy was assigned to the C-17 Combined Test Force, where she served as a test pilot until her selection for the Astronaut Program. She has logged more than 6,000 hours flight time in more than 50 different aircraft. Colonel Melroy was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in March 1995.

After NASA, she served as Deputy Program manager for the Lockheed Martin Orion Space Exploration Initiatives program and as Director of Field Operations and acting Deputy Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation at the Federal Aviation Administration. She went on to serve as Deputy Director, Tactical Technology Office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) where she executed a large air and space technology development portfolio. Colonel Melroy is now an independent consultant.

Peter Beck

Founder & Chief Executive / Rocket Lab

Peter Beck is the Founder and Chief Executive of space systems company Rocket Lab, the world’s leading dedicated small satellite launch provider. Rocket Lab provides end-to-end mission services, including complete satellite build and launch solutions that provide rapid, frequent and reliable access to space.

Rocket Lab has been launching since May 2017, delivering satellites to orbit for commercial and government customers, including DARPA, NASA, the United States Air Force, and more.

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Since founding the business in 2006, Peter has grown Rocket Lab to become a globally recognised industry leader in space, and a billion-dollar company employing hundreds of world-class engineers.

In addition to creating Electron, the world’s first fully carbon-fibre, orbital launch vehicle, Peter also oversaw the development of the world’s first and only private orbital launch range, located on New Zealand’s Māhia Peninsula. He played a crucial role in establishing international treaties and legislation to enable orbital launch capability from New Zealand.

Under Peter’s guidance, Rocket Lab will launch thousands of small satellites to orbit, enabling vital science, research and services from orbit including weather monitoring, communications, technology demonstrations, and Earth-observation.

David Downs

Genetically Modified Optimist

David has had a successful career in the private and public sector, with senior roles at organisations such as Microsoft and New Zealand Trade & Enterprise. David is a published author on New Zealand Innovation, with two highly successful books – No.8 Re-wired, and No.8 Recharged.

He’s an ex-comedian, TV and Radio actor, semi-finalist for New Zealander of the Year, and a genetically modified organism who documented his battle with cancer in his book A Mild Touch of the Cancer.

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David co-founded SOS Business, a not-for-profit initiative to help cafes and other small businesses during COVID-19. It quickly became a huge hit and to date has sold over $2 million in vouchers for over 2,500 small businesses.

David released a new book, Silver Linings, in March 2021, and continues to act as a consultant for government and industry, as well as a director on a number of boards. David is now CEO of The New Zealand Story, an ambitious organisation marketing New Zealand to the world.

Andrew Johnson

Manager – Space Policy and Regulatory Systems / Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

Andrew Johnson is the manager of the Space Policy and Regulatory Systems team, which forms the core of the New Zealand Space Agency within the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment. The Space Agency was established in 2016 and is the front door for space activity in New Zealand – the lead government agency for space policy, regulation, strategic sector development, and outreach.

Andrew is an economist and policy professional with nearly 20 years’ experience in the public and private sectors in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

Anna Kominik

Independent Director/Advisor

Anna works at the intersection of business, technology, strategy and system thinking and has worked in organisations of all sizes and at all stages of the business cycle over her career, including in the aerospace sector.

Most recently, Anna was Asia Pacific Director of Wisk – sitting on the US executive and working with a multinational team to bring to market one of the world’s first self-flying electric air taxis.

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During her time at Wisk, the company expanded its international footprint and Anna was recognised as one of the eVTOL industry’s most influential people globally for her achievements and leadership in building cultural and business connections and learnings.

Prior to Wisk, Anna established her own businesses, worked in Government and advised and implemented go-to-market strategies, regulatory engagement, brand building and community-led development across a range of organisations.

 Anna is currently the independent Chair of the Electricity Retailers’ Association of New Zealand (ERANZ), Chair of the Edmund Hillary Fellowship and Hillary Institute, is on the board of Kea Aerospace, and advises companies in the New Zealand aerospace sector. Anna was a Commonwealth Foundation Emerging Pacific Leader and has a master’s degree from Northwestern University, Chicago.

Ashwath Sundaresan

Investment Manager / Pacific Channel

Dr. Ashwath Sundaresan, Ph.D., MBA (Investment Manager) leads Pacific Channel’s investments into cleantech/ advanced engineering opportunities and supports work in medical devices.

Ashwath joined Pacific Channel in July 2021 and has over 10 years’ experience across technology and deep IP based business. 

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Immediately before to joining Pacific Channel, Ashwath spent three years as a Senior Commercialisation Manager at Wellington UniVentures (the commercialisation company of Victoria University of Wellington) focussing on developing academic entrepreneurs and university spinouts. Prior to that, Ashwath was a strategy and technology advisor with Accenture and Google with significant expertise in the healthcare and energy industry.

Ashwath is passionate about early-stage deep technologies and businesses and is also a director of Vortex Power Systems (a Pacific Channel portfolio company). Ashwath holds a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering and PhD in mechanical engineering from University of Canterbury and an MBA from INSEAD.

Bronwyn Turley

Deputy Chief Executive, System and Regulatory Design / Te Manatū Waka Ministry of Transport

Bronwyn joined Te Manatū Waka, Ministry of Transport, to lead the System and Regulatory Design Group following leadership roles at WorkSafe NZ, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the previous Ministry of Economic Development.

Prior to joining the Ministry she led the Regulatory Effectiveness and Legal Groups at WorkSafe New Zealand, where she also had experience leading the policy, guidance and education functions.

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She has led significant pieces of regulatory reform and supported their effective implementation.

Bronwyn has a strong background in regulatory policy with a particular interest in regulatory stewardship and effective regulatory design.

Catherine MacGowan

Asia Pacific Region Director / Wisk

Catherine brings more than 23 years of experience to her role as Asia Pacific Region Director at Wisk. She is responsible for leading a multinational team focused on bringing Wisk’s first electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) air taxi to market.

Prior to joining Wisk, Catherine was a Group Captain in the Royal New Zealand Air Force and has held several leadership positions across the New Zealand Defence Force.

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Wisk was established in 2019 as a joint venture between The Boeing Company and Kitty Hawk Corporation, two leaders in aviation who are shaping the future of mobility. Headquartered in Mountain View, California with locations in Atlanta, Georgia and New Zealand, Wisk’s vision is for safe, sustainable, everyday flight for everyone.

Emily Blythe

CEO / Pyper Vision

Emily is the CEO and Founder of Pyper Vision, delivering the world’s first fog dispersal system to market. Her mission is to develop weather-controlled hubs, where visibility can be guaranteed to ensure the safe arrival of flights, on-time, every time.

Before founding Pyper Vision, Emily was the inventor and CEO of Flatpak and Researcher for Holmes Solutions.

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Emily comes from a long line of aviators, most notably is her great-great-grandfather, who contributed to one of the world’s first Commercial Flights in 1911 London. Emily herself has been flying since 12 years old, is an active inventor, and serial entrepreneur. Through all her work, Emily shows a strong commitment to lifting the standards for our environmental sustainability, working towards a mission to leave our world in a better place than we found it.

Emily is currently a Future Director on the board of Spidertracks, Committee Member at the National Aerospace Executive Committee and was nominated as a Semi-Finalist for the New Zealand Innovator of the Year.

Imche Fourie

CEO / Outset Ventures

Imche is the CEO of Outset Ventures, New Zealand’s Home of Deep Technology. Working on the intersection of deep technology and venture capital, she has built Outset Ventures to be the largest science and engineering venture incubator in the country.

Curiosity and community sit at the heart of everything she does and she is passionate about backing inquisitive people with big ideas.

James Powell

CFO / Dawn Aerospace

James Powell is passionate about building systems and epic machines. As the General Manager of Dawn Aerospace, James looks after finance and manages spaceplane certification.

Prior to Dawn, James spent ten years in aircraft design, manufacture and certification for a range of global customers, and quickly became one of the youngest Delegates of the Director of Civil Aviation, an authority he still holds.

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James also spent time building an investment portfolio to allow focus on growing Dawn, rather than year to year income. James’ engineering career began with Lego and garage-based projects, before studying Mechanical Engineering at The University of Canterbury. Outside of work, James spends his time with family, snowboarding, and travelling.

Jessica Tucker

Senior Associate, Systems Engineering / Beca

Jess is a senior associate in systems engineering at Beca Applied Technologies. She specialises in systems engineering and systems assurance for high-integrity, safety-critical and mission-critical applications across aerospace and other sectors.

Jess’ career in aerospace started over 20 years ago in the US in a role with an R&D company providing mission assurance support to the US government space missions.

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In her current role at Beca Applied Technologies, Jess helps organisations to understand and define their most critical problems, and to develop and deploy robust solutions to meet them.

Jess holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from University of California at Santa Barbara, and a Master of Science in Physics from California State University Long Beach.

Kate Breach

Head of Space Developments and Global Partnerships / Tāwhaki

Kate Breach is an aerospace engineer and technical specialist with the New Zealand Space Agency (a part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment).

Kate works with New Zealand space companies, universities, international space companies and other national space agencies to help further develop the New Zealand space sector, as well as providing technical advice to the New Zealand Space Agency for space policy development.

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Before her current role, Kate was the lead for regulation of space launch from New Zealand with the New Zealand Space Agency, and also regulated satellites launched from New Zealand.

Kate holds a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical) with First Class Honours and a Master of International Relations. Kate’s career background includes military aerospace engineering in both the Royal New Zealand Air Force and the Royal Air Force in the UK, where she worked on Eurofighter fighter jets. Kate has also held corporate project management roles in New Zealand, Australia and the UK, and foreign policy roles for New Zealand, including space policy.

Kate de Ridder

Program Manager / Bridgewest Ventures

Kate de Ridder, (BE(Hons) Elec Eng, PGDipBus, AdvDip Aeronautics, MSc Aerospace Vehicle Design), is responsible for pipeline management at Bridgewest Ventures NZ LP, a Deep Tech Incubator in partnership with Callaghan Innovation.

Her key goal is to take science out of the labs and into global markets, creating highly skilled New Zealand-based jobs and a more resilient New Zealand economy.

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Prior to working for BVNZ, Kate spent 17 years’ serving in the Royal New Zealand Air Force, where she had a varied engineering career, from managing the maintenance of aircraft flying Antarctic resupply missions, to leading a team of engineers developing the airborne mission system for surveillance and reconnaissance.

Keith Manch

Chief Executive & Director / Civil Aviation Authority

Keith joined the Civil Aviation Authority as the Chief Executive and Director of Civil Aviation in February 2021. Prior to this, Keith was the Chief Executive and Director of Maritime New Zealand for a 9 year period. 

Keith brings strong experience as a regulator to the Authority, along with considerable experience as a Chief Executive, and in leading culture change programmes. 

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He is also a leader in the Government Regulatory Practice Initiative which supports the professionalisation of regulators and regulatory practice in central and local government in New Zealand.  

Prior to Civil Aviation and Maritime NZ Keith was in NZ Police (1977-89), and has worked at senior levels in the Commerce Commission (competition and fair trading law enforcement), Ministry of Consumer Affairs (consumer policy, information and education; trade measurement; electricity and gas safety), Department of Internal Affairs (gambling, censorship, anti money laundering, anti spam, identity and civil defence), Ministry of Social Development (benefit fraud, debt collection and data matching), and the Real Estate Agents Authority (licensing and compliance).

Lisa Brown

General Surgeon

Lisa Brown, MBChB, PhD, FRACS, AFAsMA is a General Surgeon specializing in Hepatobiliary Surgery in Auckland, New Zealand.  Lisa has pursued training and research in Aerospace Medicine throughout her Surgical training. 

She was the Aerospace Medicine Research Fellow at The University of Oxford, has completed an internship at DLR and undertaken the UTMB Principles of Aerospace Medicine Short Course.

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Lisa currently sits on multiple Aviation and Aerospace Medicine councils internationally and in New Zealand and is in the early stages of the development of the New Zealand Space Health Research Center.

Linda Falwasser
(Waikato-Tainui, Ngāti Awa)

Chief Executive Officer / Tāwhaki

Linda is the CEO of Tāwhaki – a world-leading joint venture partnership in Wāitaha (Canterbury), Aotearoa (New Zealand) to promote aerospace and environmental initiatives that involve rangatahi and whānau from Te Taumutu Rūnanga and Wairewa Rūnanga.

A JV between the Rūnanga and New Zealand Government, Tāwhaki has two objectives: to heal and rejuvenate the land at Kaitōrete; and advance Aotearoa’s aerospace industry.
Linda brings a unique blend of governance, commercial and te ao Maori skills to the venture.

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She is an experienced director and senior executive, having worked for public and private sector, and Iwi organisations. Linda has also served as a strategic advisor to several boards and chief executives.

The diversity of Linda’s experience is evidence of the innovation and adaptability that she brings to everything she does. Linda has a values-led approach, an entrepreneurial spirit, a real knack for building enduring partnerships, and getting things done!

Malcolm Snowdon

CEO & CTO / Argo Navis Aerospace

Malcolm is passionate about cutting the complexity and cost out of rocket engines. In 2013, Malcolm began working on the Electron program at Rocket Lab as one of the earliest employees, developing many aspects of the vehicle including Electron’s navigation system.

After leaving Rocket Lab, he wondered whether there was a way to do propulsion differently.

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Argo Navis Aerospace grew from Malcolm’s experimental work on engines and belief that engine development times and hardware complexity can be significantly reduced. Argo Navis is now redefining rocket propulsion with technology that performs beautifully, scales gracefully, and can be manufactured more cost-effectively and reliably than anything else on the market.

Previously, Malcolm worked in the biomedical industry while completing a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Canterbury (UC). His experimental work in rocketry led to a PhD in rocket flight dynamics in the Electrical Engineering Department at UC. Outside the aerospace industry, Malcolm sails an R-Class skiff, develops hydrofoils and flight control systems, and experiments with precision target shooting.

Mark Rocket

CEO / Kea Aerospace

Mark Rocket was the seed investor and Co-Director of Rocket Lab from 2007 to 2011. Rocket Lab went from startup phase to New Zealand’s first space launch, going on to win contracts with international aerospace agencies. This established an entirely new space industry in New Zealand.

Mark has also been operating internet and data companies for over 22 years, and was a Founder of New Zealand Tourism Online, which became New Zealand’s leading commercial tourism directory, before being sold to Telecom Yellowpages in 2006.

Max Arshavsky

CEO & CTO / Zenno Astronautics

Max lives for change and making things better. Drastically. Accepted into Russia’s most prestigious physics university, at age 18 he instead decided to move to New Zealand (to his parent’s frustration).

He has dropped out of numerous degrees (Commerce, Engineering Science and Biomedical Engineering), managed multi-million-dollar property projects and is now building the company that will underpin the future of generating and controlling force in space.

He no longer paraglides, which is a relief to his family and co-workers.

Niamh Given

Investment Manager / WNT Ventures

In her role as Investment Manager with VC WNT Ventures, Niamh leads investments into early-stage, deep-tech companies across New Zealand. Niamh has a background in hardware startups and extensive experience driving strategic growth for businesses.

She spent over a decade in China, working in the product development and manufacturing industry, helping both Fortune 500 and early-stage startups bring their products to market. 

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Niamh relocated to New Zealand four years ago and is passionate about supporting founders and helping startups build sustainable businesses. 

Nicholas Borroz

Principal / Rotoiti

Dr. Nicholas Borroz founded Rotoiti, an Auckland-based consultancy that supports clients in the space industry with market research, strategic advisory, and business development services.

Nicholas is a member of Aerospace Auckland’s steering committee and hosts fortnightly space kōrero that introduce foreign space actors to New Zealand’s space ecosystem. 

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He previously worked in business intelligence in Washington, DC, focusing on risk management, due diligence, and compliance. Nicholas has a PhD in international business from Auckland University, an MA in international economics from Johns Hopkins SAIS, and a BA in international studies from Macalester College. 

Peter Johnson

Aerospace Director / Nova Systems  

Peter Johnson was commissioned into the RAF in 1986 as an Engineering Officer and served in a variety of Command and Staff appointments in the UK and Germany including as No 7 Sqn, operating the Chinook HC Mk II and 28(AC) Sqn operating the Merlin HC Mk III. He served operational tours in Bosnia/Croatia under a NATO mandate and Iraq as part of UK’s contribution of coalition operations and in the UK in various locations in support of “customs led” operations.

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Following his time on No 28(AC) Sqn he was awarded the MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2006, in part for leading the logistics and engineering effort for the 1st Merlin rotary wing deployment to Iraq.

He emigrated with his family to NZ in 2007 and joined the RNZAF again as an Engineering Officer and has completed a number of Command, Leadership and Management roles including Project Engineering and Certification Manager for the Agusta 109 LUH(NZ), NZ Joint Command and Staff College, Director of Aeronautical Engineering, HQJFNZ and finally as the Chief Engineer and Technical Airworthiness Authority. During the COVID pandemic he was General Manager National Operations Delivery – Managed Isolation and Quarantine, MBIE, responsible for the day-to-day operations of all 32 NZ’s MIQF facilities, staff and contractors whilst seeing 60,000 returning New Zealanders into the country. He finished his NZ military service with a 4-month secondment to the NZ Space Agency.

After leaving the RNZAF, he joined Nova Systems (NZ) as the Aerospace Director, working with Defence and industry across different sectors of the country’s Aerospace sector.

Philipp Sueltrop

CTO / Kea Aerospace  

Philipp’s passion is to explore and stretch the boundaries of unmanned aircraft systems, which perfectly fits Kea Aerospace’s mission of becoming a world leader in stratospheric flight operations.

Priyanka Dhopade

Researcher and Lecturer / University of Auckland 

Dr Priyanka Dhopade is a lecturer in thermofluids at the University of Auckland and a founding member of the Women in Space Aotearoa New Zealand network (WISANZ). Her research expertise is in aerospace thermodynamics and fluid mechanics.

Priyanka’s current research focuses on sustainable engineering across space, environmental engineering and te ao Māori: quantifying the environmental impact of space infrastructure; thermal measurement techniques for atmospheric re-entry to enable rocket re-usability; working with iwi and hapū on renewable energy options for Māori housing; and understanding systemic barriers to recruitment, promotion and retention of minorities in engineering

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Previously, she held a senior research position at the University of Oxford from 2013-2020, where she developed computational models for cooling systems in modern jet engines, in collaboration with industry and academia, to reduce the environmental impact of aviation.

Richard Adams

Regional Manager Oceania / Swoop Aero 

Richard Adams is Swoop Aero’s Regional Manager for Oceania, overseeing drone logistics flight operations and commercial engagement in the region. Prior to joining Swoop Aero in November 2020, Richard was a National Director with Disaster Relief Australia, a veteran-led disaster relief NGO.

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He also spent five years in a number of emergency management leadership positions with the Victorian state government, including in aviation, and flew as an aerial observer throughout the 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires. Although born and raised in New Zealand, Richard began his career as an Officer in the British Army, with roles including leading unmanned aviation operations over Afghanistan and managing specialist aviation training in the UK, Germany, Canada and the Middle East. 

Sarah Blyde

Project Engineer / Rocket Lab 

Sarah is a project engineer at Rocket Lab. She is also a Rocket Lab Space Ambassador visiting schools to encourage interest in STEM careers.

Sarah graduated with BE(Hons)/BCom from the University of Auckland and started her career as a petroleum engineer in Western Australia before completing a MSc in Space Studies and transitioning into the space sector.

Sarah is a founding member of the Women in Space Aotearoa New Zealand network and part of the Aerospace Auckland steering group.

Shaun Johnson

CEO / Merlin Labs NZ Limited 

CEO of Merlin Labs NZ Limited, Shaun is a senior aerospace professional, who has held a number of technical and leadership roles across the New Zealand Defence and civil aviation sectors over the past 32 years.

Shaun served as an Engineering Officer with the Royal New Zealand Air Force for 27 years. During this time he filled numerous technical and programme engineering and leadership roles, including secondment to the Ministry of Defence in support of major capital acquisition projects.

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After retirement from the RNZAF, Shaun led the aircraft, product and organisational certification teams at the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand.

In 2005, Shaun was appointed as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and current President of the New Zealand branch.

Stefan Powell

CEO & CTO / Dawn Aerospace

Stefan Powell has been building rockets since his early student years, and has spent his entire career in both rocket and satellite start-ups that push the envelope, including being on the Rocket Lab team testing the first firings of the electron rocket.

CTO of Dawn Aerospace, Stefan now heads various technical teams building reusable launch vehicles and new space transportation technologies. 

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A Kiwi at heart, with a dash of Dutch eccentricity, Stefan is currently spending his spare time exploring all ways his green thrusters can be used to cook the company’s weekly BBQ, or dance the dance to classic music.

SUMMIT speakers

Due to current travel and availability restrictions, speakers will be a combination of in-person, virtual and pre-recorded.  Speaker format will be confirmed closer to the Summit date.

Pamela Melroy

United States Air Force / NASA Astronaut serving as the Deputy Administrator of NASA

Pam Melroy is an aerospace executive with government and industry experience across civil, commercial, and national security space. She is a retired Air Force test pilot and former NASA astronaut and Space Shuttle commander.

Colonel Melroy received a Bachelor’s degree in Physics and Astronomy from Wellesley College and a Master of Science degree in Earth and Planetary Sciences from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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She flew the KC-10 for six years at Barksdale Air Force Base as an Air Force co-pilot, aircraft commander and instructor pilot. Colonel Melroy is a veteran of Operation Just Cause and Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, with more than 200 combat and combat support hours. After attending the Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, California, Colonel Melroy was assigned to the C-17 Combined Test Force, where she served as a test pilot until her selection for the Astronaut Program. She has logged more than 6,000 hours flight time in more than 50 different aircraft. Colonel Melroy was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in March 1995.

After NASA, she served as Deputy Program manager for the Lockheed Martin Orion Space Exploration Initiatives program and as Director of Field Operations and acting Deputy Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation at the Federal Aviation Administration. She went on to serve as Deputy Director, Tactical Technology Office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) where she executed a large air and space technology development portfolio. Colonel Melroy is now an independent consultant.

Peter Beck

Founder & Chief Executive / Rocket Lab

Peter Beck is the Founder and Chief Executive of space systems company Rocket Lab, the world’s leading dedicated small satellite launch provider. Rocket Lab provides end-to-end mission services, including complete satellite build and launch solutions that provide rapid, frequent and reliable access to space.

Rocket Lab has been launching since May 2017, delivering satellites to orbit for commercial and government customers, including DARPA, NASA, the United States Air Force, and more.

Read More

Since founding the business in 2006, Peter has grown Rocket Lab to become a globally recognised industry leader in space, and a billion-dollar company employing hundreds of world-class engineers.

In addition to creating Electron, the world’s first fully carbon-fibre, orbital launch vehicle, Peter also oversaw the development of the world’s first and only private orbital launch range, located on New Zealand’s Māhia Peninsula. He played a crucial role in establishing international treaties and legislation to enable orbital launch capability from New Zealand.

Under Peter’s guidance, Rocket Lab will launch thousands of small satellites to orbit, enabling vital science, research and services from orbit including weather monitoring, communications, technology demonstrations, and Earth-observation.

David Downs

Genetically Modified Optimist

David has had a successful career in the private and public sector, with senior roles at organisations such as Microsoft and New Zealand Trade & Enterprise. David is a published author on New Zealand Innovation, with two highly successful books – No.8 Re-wired, and No.8 Recharged.

He’s an ex-comedian, TV and Radio actor, semi-finalist for New Zealander of the Year, and a genetically modified organism who documented his battle with cancer in his book A Mild Touch of the Cancer.

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David co-founded SOS Business, a not-for-profit initiative to help cafes and other small businesses during COVID-19. It quickly became a huge hit and to date has sold over $2 million in vouchers for over 2,500 small businesses.

David released a new book, Silver Linings, in March 2021, and continues to act as a consultant for government and industry, as well as a director on a number of boards. David is now CEO of The New Zealand Story, an ambitious organisation marketing New Zealand to the world.

Andrew Johnson

Manager – Space Policy and Regulatory Systems / Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

Andrew Johnson is the manager of the Space Policy and Regulatory Systems team, which forms the core of the New Zealand Space Agency within the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment. The Space Agency was established in 2016 and is the front door for space activity in New Zealand – the lead government agency for space policy, regulation, strategic sector development, and outreach.

Andrew is an economist and policy professional with nearly 20 years’ experience in the public and private sectors in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

Anna Kominik

Independent Director/Advisor

Anna works at the intersection of business, technology, strategy and system thinking and has worked in organisations of all sizes and at all stages of the business cycle over her career, including in the aerospace sector.

Most recently, Anna was Asia Pacific Director of Wisk – sitting on the US executive and working with a multinational team to bring to market one of the world’s first self-flying electric air taxis.

Read More

During her time at Wisk, the company expanded its international footprint and Anna was recognised as one of the eVTOL industry’s most influential people globally for her achievements and leadership in building cultural and business connections and learnings.

Prior to Wisk, Anna established her own businesses, worked in Government and advised and implemented go-to-market strategies, regulatory engagement, brand building and community-led development across a range of organisations.

 Anna is currently the independent Chair of the Electricity Retailers’ Association of New Zealand (ERANZ), Chair of the Edmund Hillary Fellowship and Hillary Institute, is on the board of Kea Aerospace, and advises companies in the New Zealand aerospace sector. Anna was a Commonwealth Foundation Emerging Pacific Leader and has a master’s degree from Northwestern University, Chicago.

Ashwath Sundaresan

Investment Manager / Pacific Channel

Dr. Ashwath Sundaresan, Ph.D., MBA (Investment Manager) leads Pacific Channel’s investments into cleantech/ advanced engineering opportunities and supports work in medical devices.

Ashwath joined Pacific Channel in July 2021 and has over 10 years’ experience across technology and deep IP based business. 

Read more

Immediately before to joining Pacific Channel, Ashwath spent three years as a Senior Commercialisation Manager at Wellington UniVentures (the commercialisation company of Victoria University of Wellington) focussing on developing academic entrepreneurs and university spinouts. Prior to that, Ashwath was a strategy and technology advisor with Accenture and Google with significant expertise in the healthcare and energy industry.

Ashwath is passionate about early-stage deep technologies and businesses and is also a director of Vortex Power Systems (a Pacific Channel portfolio company). Ashwath holds a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering and PhD in mechanical engineering from University of Canterbury and an MBA from INSEAD.

Bronwyn Turley

Deputy Chief Executive, System and Regulatory Design / Te Manatū Waka Ministry of Transport

Bronwyn joined Te Manatū Waka, Ministry of Transport, to lead the System and Regulatory Design Group following leadership roles at WorkSafe NZ, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the previous Ministry of Economic Development.

Prior to joining the Ministry she led the Regulatory Effectiveness and Legal Groups at WorkSafe New Zealand, where she also had experience leading the policy, guidance and education functions.

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She has led significant pieces of regulatory reform and supported their effective implementation.

Bronwyn has a strong background in regulatory policy with a particular interest in regulatory stewardship and effective regulatory design.

Catherine MacGowan

Asia Pacific Region Director / Wisk

Catherine brings more than 23 years of experience to her role as Asia Pacific Region Director at Wisk. She is responsible for leading a multinational team focused on bringing Wisk’s first electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) air taxi to market.

Prior to joining Wisk, Catherine was a Group Captain in the Royal New Zealand Air Force and has held several leadership positions across the New Zealand Defence Force.

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Wisk was established in 2019 as a joint venture between The Boeing Company and Kitty Hawk Corporation, two leaders in aviation who are shaping the future of mobility. Headquartered in Mountain View, California with locations in Atlanta, Georgia and New Zealand, Wisk’s vision is for safe, sustainable, everyday flight for everyone.

Emily Blythe

CEO / Pyper Vision

Emily is the CEO and Founder of Pyper Vision, delivering the world’s first fog dispersal system to market. Her mission is to develop weather-controlled hubs, where visibility can be guaranteed to ensure the safe arrival of flights, on-time, every time.

Before founding Pyper Vision, Emily was the inventor and CEO of Flatpak and Researcher for Holmes Solutions.

Read more

Emily comes from a long line of aviators, most notably is her great-great-grandfather, who contributed to one of the world’s first Commercial Flights in 1911 London. Emily herself has been flying since 12 years old, is an active inventor, and serial entrepreneur. Through all her work, Emily shows a strong commitment to lifting the standards for our environmental sustainability, working towards a mission to leave our world in a better place than we found it.

Emily is currently a Future Director on the board of Spidertracks, Committee Member at the National Aerospace Executive Committee and was nominated as a Semi-Finalist for the New Zealand Innovator of the Year.

Imche Fourie

CEO / Outset Ventures

Imche is the CEO of Outset Ventures, New Zealand’s Home of Deep Technology. Working on the intersection of deep technology and venture capital, she has built Outset Ventures to be the largest science and engineering venture incubator in the country.

Curiosity and community sit at the heart of everything she does and she is passionate about backing inquisitive people with big ideas.

James Powell

CFO / Dawn Aerospace

James Powell is passionate about building systems and epic machines. As the General Manager of Dawn Aerospace, James looks after finance and manages spaceplane certification.

Prior to Dawn, James spent ten years in aircraft design, manufacture and certification for a range of global customers, and quickly became one of the youngest Delegates of the Director of Civil Aviation, an authority he still holds.

Read more

James also spent time building an investment portfolio to allow focus on growing Dawn, rather than year to year income. James’ engineering career began with Lego and garage-based projects, before studying Mechanical Engineering at The University of Canterbury. Outside of work, James spends his time with family, snowboarding, and travelling.

Jessica Tucker

Senior Associate, Systems Engineering / Beca

Jess is a senior associate in systems engineering at Beca Applied Technologies. She specialises in systems engineering and systems assurance for high-integrity, safety-critical and mission-critical applications across aerospace and other sectors.

Jess’ career in aerospace started over 20 years ago in the US in a role with an R&D company providing mission assurance support to the US government space missions.

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In her current role at Beca Applied Technologies, Jess helps organisations to understand and define their most critical problems, and to develop and deploy robust solutions to meet them.

Jess holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from University of California at Santa Barbara, and a Master of Science in Physics from California State University Long Beach.

Kate Breach

Technical Specialist – Aerospace, Space Policy and Regulatory Systems / Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

Kate Breach is an aerospace engineer and technical specialist with the New Zealand Space Agency (a part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment).

Kate works with New Zealand space companies, universities, international space companies and other national space agencies to help further develop the New Zealand space sector, as well as providing technical advice to the New Zealand Space Agency for space policy development.

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Before her current role, Kate was the lead for regulation of space launch from New Zealand with the New Zealand Space Agency, and also regulated satellites launched from New Zealand.

Kate holds a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical) with First Class Honours and a Master of International Relations. Kate’s career background includes military aerospace engineering in both the Royal New Zealand Air Force and the Royal Air Force in the UK, where she worked on Eurofighter fighter jets. Kate has also held corporate project management roles in New Zealand, Australia and the UK, and foreign policy roles for New Zealand, including space policy.

Kate de Ridder

Program Manager / Bridgewest Ventures

Kate de Ridder, (BE(Hons) Elec Eng, PGDipBus, AdvDip Aeronautics, MSc Aerospace Vehicle Design), is responsible for pipeline management at Bridgewest Ventures NZ LP, a Deep Tech Incubator in partnership with Callaghan Innovation.

Her key goal is to take science out of the labs and into global markets, creating highly skilled New Zealand-based jobs and a more resilient New Zealand economy.

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Prior to working for BVNZ, Kate spent 17 years’ serving in the Royal New Zealand Air Force, where she had a varied engineering career, from managing the maintenance of aircraft flying Antarctic resupply missions, to leading a team of engineers developing the airborne mission system for surveillance and reconnaissance.

Keith Manch

Chief Executive & Director / Civil Aviation Authority

Keith joined the Civil Aviation Authority as the Chief Executive and Director of Civil Aviation in February 2021. Prior to this, Keith was the Chief Executive and Director of Maritime New Zealand for a 9 year period. 

Keith brings strong experience as a regulator to the Authority, along with considerable experience as a Chief Executive, and in leading culture change programmes. 

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He is also a leader in the Government Regulatory Practice Initiative which supports the professionalisation of regulators and regulatory practice in central and local government in New Zealand.  

Prior to Civil Aviation and Maritime NZ Keith was in NZ Police (1977-89), and has worked at senior levels in the Commerce Commission (competition and fair trading law enforcement), Ministry of Consumer Affairs (consumer policy, information and education; trade measurement; electricity and gas safety), Department of Internal Affairs (gambling, censorship, anti money laundering, anti spam, identity and civil defence), Ministry of Social Development (benefit fraud, debt collection and data matching), and the Real Estate Agents Authority (licensing and compliance).

Lisa Brown

General Surgeon

Lisa Brown, MBChB, PhD, FRACS, AFAsMA is a General Surgeon specializing in Hepatobiliary Surgery in Auckland, New Zealand.  Lisa has pursued training and research in Aerospace Medicine throughout her Surgical training. 

She was the Aerospace Medicine Research Fellow at The University of Oxford, has completed an internship at DLR and undertaken the UTMB Principles of Aerospace Medicine Short Course.

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Lisa currently sits on multiple Aviation and Aerospace Medicine councils internationally and in New Zealand and is in the early stages of the development of the New Zealand Space Health Research Center.

Linda Falwasser
(Waikato-Tainui, Ngāti Awa)

Chief Executive Officer / Tāwhaki

Linda is the CEO of Tāwhaki – a world-leading joint venture partnership in Wāitaha (Canterbury), Aotearoa (New Zealand) to promote aerospace and environmental initiatives that involve rangatahi and whānau from Te Taumutu Rūnanga and Wairewa Rūnanga.

A JV between the Rūnanga and New Zealand Government, Tāwhaki has two objectives: to heal and rejuvenate the land at Kaitōrete; and advance Aotearoa’s aerospace industry.
Linda brings a unique blend of governance, commercial and te ao Maori skills to the venture.

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She is an experienced director and senior executive, having worked for public and private sector, and Iwi organisations. Linda has also served as a strategic advisor to several boards and chief executives.

The diversity of Linda’s experience is evidence of the innovation and adaptability that she brings to everything she does. Linda has a values-led approach, an entrepreneurial spirit, a real knack for building enduring partnerships, and getting things done!

Malcolm Snowdon

CEO & CTO / Argo Navis Aerospace

Malcolm is passionate about cutting the complexity and cost out of rocket engines. In 2013, Malcolm began working on the Electron program at Rocket Lab as one of the earliest employees, developing many aspects of the vehicle including Electron’s navigation system.

After leaving Rocket Lab, he wondered whether there was a way to do propulsion differently.

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Argo Navis Aerospace grew from Malcolm’s experimental work on engines and belief that engine development times and hardware complexity can be significantly reduced. Argo Navis is now redefining rocket propulsion with technology that performs beautifully, scales gracefully, and can be manufactured more cost-effectively and reliably than anything else on the market.

Previously, Malcolm worked in the biomedical industry while completing a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Canterbury (UC). His experimental work in rocketry led to a PhD in rocket flight dynamics in the Electrical Engineering Department at UC. Outside the aerospace industry, Malcolm sails an R-Class skiff, develops hydrofoils and flight control systems, and experiments with precision target shooting.

Mark Rocket

CEO / Kea Aerospace

Mark Rocket was the seed investor and Co-Director of Rocket Lab from 2007 to 2011. Rocket Lab went from startup phase to New Zealand’s first space launch, going on to win contracts with international aerospace agencies. This established an entirely new space industry in New Zealand.

Mark has also been operating internet and data companies for over 22 years, and was a Founder of New Zealand Tourism Online, which became New Zealand’s leading commercial tourism directory, before being sold to Telecom Yellowpages in 2006.

Max Arshavsky

CEO & CTO / Zenno Astronautics

Max lives for change and making things better. Drastically. Accepted into Russia’s most prestigious physics university, at age 18 he instead decided to move to New Zealand (to his parent’s frustration).

He has dropped out of numerous degrees (Commerce, Engineering Science and Biomedical Engineering), managed multi-million-dollar property projects and is now building the company that will underpin the future of generating and controlling force in space.

He no longer paraglides, which is a relief to his family and co-workers.

Niamh Given

Investment Manager / WNT Ventures

In her role as Investment Manager with VC WNT Ventures, Niamh leads investments into early-stage, deep-tech companies across New Zealand. Niamh has a background in hardware startups and extensive experience driving strategic growth for businesses.

She spent over a decade in China, working in the product development and manufacturing industry, helping both Fortune 500 and early-stage startups bring their products to market. 

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Niamh relocated to New Zealand four years ago and is passionate about supporting founders and helping startups build sustainable businesses. 

Nicholas Borroz

Principal / Rotoiti

Dr. Nicholas Borroz founded Rotoiti, an Auckland-based consultancy that supports clients in the space industry with market research, strategic advisory, and business development services.

Nicholas is a member of Aerospace Auckland’s steering committee and hosts fortnightly space kōrero that introduce foreign space actors to New Zealand’s space ecosystem. 

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He previously worked in business intelligence in Washington, DC, focusing on risk management, due diligence, and compliance. Nicholas has a PhD in international business from Auckland University, an MA in international economics from Johns Hopkins SAIS, and a BA in international studies from Macalester College. 

Philipp Sueltrop

CTO / Kea Aerospace  

Philipp’s passion is to explore and stretch the boundaries of unmanned aircraft systems, which perfectly fits Kea Aerospace’s mission of becoming a world leader in stratospheric flight operations.

Priyanka Dhopade

Researcher and Lecturer / University of Auckland 

Dr Priyanka Dhopade is a lecturer in thermofluids at the University of Auckland and a founding member of the Women in Space Aotearoa New Zealand network (WISANZ). Her research expertise is in aerospace thermodynamics and fluid mechanics.

Priyanka’s current research focuses on sustainable engineering across space, environmental engineering and te ao Māori: quantifying the environmental impact of space infrastructure; thermal measurement techniques for atmospheric re-entry to enable rocket re-usability; working with iwi and hapū on renewable energy options for Māori housing; and understanding systemic barriers to recruitment, promotion and retention of minorities in engineering

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Previously, she held a senior research position at the University of Oxford from 2013-2020, where she developed computational models for cooling systems in modern jet engines, in collaboration with industry and academia, to reduce the environmental impact of aviation.

Sarah Blyde

Project Engineer / Rocket Lab 

Sarah is a project engineer at Rocket Lab. She is also a Rocket Lab Space Ambassador visiting schools to encourage interest in STEM careers.

Sarah graduated with BE(Hons)/BCom from the University of Auckland and started her career as a petroleum engineer in Western Australia before completing a MSc in Space Studies and transitioning into the space sector.

Sarah is a founding member of the Women in Space Aotearoa New Zealand network and part of the Aerospace Auckland steering group.

Shaun Johnson

CEO / Merlin Labs NZ Limited 

CEO of Merlin Labs NZ Limited, Shaun is a senior aerospace professional, who has held a number of technical and leadership roles across the New Zealand Defence and civil aviation sectors over the past 32 years.

Shaun served as an Engineering Officer with the Royal New Zealand Air Force for 27 years. During this time he filled numerous technical and programme engineering and leadership roles, including secondment to the Ministry of Defence in support of major capital acquisition projects.

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After retirement from the RNZAF, Shaun led the aircraft, product and organisational certification teams at the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand.

In 2005, Shaun was appointed as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and current President of the New Zealand branch.

Stefan Powell

CEO & CTO / Dawn Aerospace

Stefan Powell has been building rockets since his early student years, and has spent his entire career in both rocket and satellite start-ups that push the envelope, including being on the Rocket Lab team testing the first firings of the electron rocket.

CTO of Dawn Aerospace, Stefan now heads various technical teams building reusable launch vehicles and new space transportation technologies. 

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A Kiwi at heart, with a dash of Dutch eccentricity, Stefan is currently spending his spare time exploring all ways his green thrusters can be used to cook the company’s weekly BBQ, or dance the dance to classic music.

Troy McCann

Founder / Moonshot 

Troy is the founder of Moonshot, a company growing technology businesses that leverage and integrate frontier locations into our world, ranging from physical spaces to cyberspace.

Moonshot focuses on developing opportunities presented by space through broadening understanding, and cultivating investment and research in space technology through incubators, accelerators and investment funds. 

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With over 13 years’ experience in technology and entrepreneurship spanning multiple diverse businesses and industries, Troy has developed a framework for supporting the growth of commercial solutions to humanity’s most difficult challenges. Moonshot’s model represents the world’s first international network of prestigious partners and industry pioneers, including the Aldrin Space Institute and Axiom Space, the company behind the world’s first commercial space station. Troy was ranked the 13th most influential global new space business leader of the sector in the NewSpace People Global Ranking Report for 2020.

With a practical and approachable interpretation of what constitutes space, Troy is able to translate the intangible into very real opportunities that have clear commercial application across industries, from health to telecommunications and business functions, such as supply chain. Satellite imagery, zero gravity manufacturing, robotics, drones and Artificial Intelligence are all technologies that are innovating and maturing with application in the space industry.  JigSpace, a company involved in Moonshot’s accelerator program, was showcased by Apple in the recent launch of the iPhone 12, to demonstrate the capability of technology convergence in spatial computing for more accurate and immersive Augmented Reality.

Acknowledged for his differentiated expertise, Troy is sought after globally as a speaker and advisor by organizations and Government on the space industry and the emerging technologies that are enabling commercial optimization for both countries and businesses. 

Troy has an extensive background in computer science and holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical and electronic engineering from The University of Melbourne. He was invited to participate as an Engineer in Residence at The University of Melbourne, coordinating a practical, final semester Master of Engineering course and sharing industry experience with over 100 students to ensure industry readiness for Melbourne School of Engineering graduates.