World Class Kiwi is already at home

Award winner takes CTO position at Navman

Richard Mander, this year's recipient of New Zealand Trade and Enterprise's World Class New Zealander award for expat New Zealanders, isn't actually an expat.

He's an ex-expat, who spent 17 years in the US before returning home earlier this year to take up the position of chief technology officer at Navman.

Asked what the award means to him, Mander says "It's nice to get some recognition for the things I've done and the fact [NZTE] has the award shows the government cares about what KEA [the Kiwi Expat Association] is doing and that it has some impact on New Zealand business."

The Kiwi Expat Association is a body of New Zealanders working overseas who share their knowledge and contacts and meet regularly to network.

Mander had been planning to move back to New Zealand and being offered the job of CTO at Navman was an added incentive to come home.

"I'd worked with Navman on previous visits to New Zealand and while talking to Peter Maire got quite excited about Navman," he says.

Mander has visited New Zealand regularly over the past few years, consulting to companies here for free.

Taking a fulltime position at Navman is a change from his work in the US, which involved consulting to companies on the user-friendliness of their products.

The chief technology officer's position at Navman "sounds very technical," he says, "but it's actually about ensuring we're maket-driven, not technology-driven."

That's not to say technology isn't important, but the role is to keep the company focused on its products.

The CTO post is a new one at Navman. "I'm responsible for product development and ensuring that we're investing in the right technology."

Mander says his job also involves an understanding of end-users and customers, a task for which his knowledge and experience from Zanzara, his and his wife Amanda's US company, will be an asset to Navman.

At Zanzara, he and Amanda consulted with many big name companies including IBM and Microsoft.

Amanda continues to run Zanzara from Christchurch, where the Manders are based, and Richard commutes regularly to Navman head office in Auckland.

The World Class New Zealander Award was started by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise last year and the first winner was Andy Lark, a Silicon Valley-based expat who is Sun's vice president for global communications and marketing.

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