AUT alumnus Mitchell Pham has possibly done more to improve trade ties with Vietnam than any other New Zealander.
Mitchell was a finalist in the AUT Business School NZ Business Support Excellence Awards in October 2017, where he was recognised for his leadership. His links with South East Asia have been pivotal in helping Kiwi businesses accelerate presence and engagement in the region.
"New Zealand lacks capability and reach in South East Asia. There has been plenty of focus on China and India, but not enough in South East Asia. We provide that reach and operation capability with the Kiwi Connection Tech Hub." Mitchell says.
Technology hub Kiwi Connection was opened in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam in 2016 by Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce. The centre provides New Zealand tech companies with access to Vietnam’s largest software park and is funded by Mitchell's company Augen Software. The centre also hosts other New Zealand companies including Orion Health, insurance technology company HealTech and manufacturing technology company ShapeShifter.
Fast-growing Vietnam is one of New Zealand's biggest trade markets in South East Asia, and merchandise exports to the region have doubled since 2007. New Zealand and Vietnam are running events to strengthen bonds between the two countries.
Mitchell says, "The New Zealand tech sector is already physically present in Vietnam, and we are committed to engage with Vietnam for the long haul."
"Vietnam’s diverse range of industries have huge growth potential. It is well worth Kiwi tech companies being early movers in their respective target sectors, and speed-to-market is an important if not critical success factor."
Mitchell says there is an essential need for New Zealand’s stronger international growth.
"New Zealand faces global demand for tech innovation, while at the same time we also suffer from a shortage of tech talent and investment capital to support international growth."
"New Zealand faces global demand for tech innovation, while at the same time we also suffer from a shortage of tech talent and investment capital."
Mitchell is a business and social entrepreneur who co-founded the Augen Software Group. He is also a trustee of the Asia New Zealand Foundation, an advisor at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and holds advisory positions within the health, social services, and business sectors.
Mitchell came to New Zealand as a refugee from Vietnam in the 1980s. He spent time in four refugee camps in Indonesia and says he resettled in the 'best country on earth.'
"I received world-class education, established a life in New Zealand, built a technology business group and expanded back into Vietnam. I reconnected with my immediate family after 13 years apart and I now want to create opportunities for both countries."