Emerging Director Award

The Auckland Branch of the Institute of Directors Emerging Director Award is open to Auckland Branch members in the very early stages of their governance career.

Our 2019 Emerging Director Award winner

Jaya PrasannanAuckland lawyer Jaya Prasannan has been announced as the Institute of Directors' Auckland branch Emerging Director 2019.

Jaya is currently general manager of corporate services and general counsel at two Auckland-based digital disruptors, NZ Compare and S.L.I.C.E. Digital. She leads a team responsible for legal affairs, finance and human resources functions. Prior to joining NZ Compare and S.L.I.C.E. Digital, Jaya was in-house counsel for a number of large New Zealand businesses. Originally from the UK, Jaya also spent five years in private practice and in-house in counsel London. 

In addition, Jaya is the deputy chair of the Youth Hostel Association of New Zealand Inc. She holds a BA (Hons) in Natural Sciences & Psychology from the University of Cambridge and subsequently attended Nottingham Law School to complete her postgraduate legal studies. She is currently studying towards an MBA from the University of Auckland. Read more

About the 2019 Emerging Director Award

Application criteria

  • Must be a Member of the Auckland Branch
  • Must be in the very early stages of their governance career i.e. with fewer than five years’ governance experience, no independent directorships on a commercial board.  To be the successful recipient of the branch Emerging Director Award, applicants must not be a current mentee participating in IoD’s Mentoring for Diversity programme, and/or an appointed  Future Director currently observing on a Host Board. This does not restrict applicants from applying for programmes concurrently but only one opportunity can be awarded.
  • Submit an application form to provide the following information:
    • Your resume with details of any governance, leadership and executive experience
    • Details of two referees
    • A written submission addressing each of the following subjects (no more than 500 words per subject):
    • What motivates you to aspire to pursue a career in governance
    • What value you believe you will bring to a board
    • What steps you have taken towards a career in governance

Award prize

  • Complimentary membership with IoD for 12 months
  • Complimentary attendance at all branch functions for 12 months
  • Mentoring with experienced director for 12 months
  •  $2,000 (GST excl) towards IoD professional development (must be used in the award year)

Judging criteria

  • Demonstrates commitment to developing a career in governance
  • Has skills and experience that would be useful to a board
  • Has had either senior executive, leadership or governance experience
  • Demonstrates an understanding of the importance of sound governance

2019 key dates

  • 3 June – Applications open
  • 26 July – Applications close
  • 27 August – Cocktail event to present certificate to Emerging Director Award winner

Past winners

Our 2018 Emerging Director Award winner
Nagaja SanatkumarNagaja Sanatkumar is a digital technology executive, with over 20 years’ professional experience in global eCommerce commercial business management and operations, technical product design and development, and customer-centric digital marketing. Her expertise spans industries such as retail, travel, financial services and management consulting. With a lens that views new challenges as opportunities for disruption, her passion is to harness the power of digital technology for greater social and environmental good, and help businesses, governments and non-profit organisations thrive in an ever-changing digital landscape. She enjoys motivating and inspiring people to continuously raise their standards for collaboration, execution and learning.

Prior to moving to New Zealand in 2015, Nagaja lived in the US, and held senior leadership roles at Amazon and Expedia. She is currently the General Manager of Global eCommerce at Icebreaker, and a Future Director at Spark. She has a Bachelor of Technology in Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, an MBA from University of Washington, Seattle, and is a Member of the Institute of Directors.

Read more

2017 Emerging Director Award announced

Carol ChengCarol Cheng, founder of Hong Consulting Limited, is an experienced business advisor and China business specialist. Carol has almost 20 years of accounting, auditing and advisory experience in New Zealand, Hong Kong and China. She has focused on cross-border advisory work covering China strategy, market entry, business compliance and due diligence for mergers and acquisitions since 2007.

Prior to founding Hong Consulting in 2015, Carol held leadership roles in New Zealand and China including executive director of PwC New Zealand and partner at Grant Thornton in China. She is an Executive Member of New Zealand China Trade Association (NZCTA).

Carol speaks fluent English and Mandarin. She has a BCom in Accounting and Finance from the University of Auckland. Carol is a Member of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, and a Member of the Institute of Directors.

Read more. 

The Auckland Branch Committee is pleased to announce Rachel Hopkins as winner of the 2016 Emerging Director Award.

Rachel Hopkins

Rachel has spent twenty years working in professional services marketing and tertiary education. She has owned her own business in Sydney, worked for a global law firm in London and led marketing teams and initiatives in Wellington and Auckland, including three years as marketing director at The ICEHOUSE.

Rachel is part of the senior leadership team at industry training organisation (ITO) Competenz. In 2015, she was the founding chair of social marketing collaboration Got a Trade? Got it Made! to promote trades and services careers to young people, particularly young women.

She recently completed the Customer Innovation Programme at Stanford D.School and spent a year with the board of public company AWF Madison Group, as part of the IoD’s Future Directors’ Programme. Rachel is a Member of the IoD, has BA and LLB degrees, and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of International Marketing. Read more.

The Auckland Branch Committee is pleased to announce Paul Adams as winner of the 2015 Emerging Director Award.

Paul Adams is the CEO of EverEdge IP, a global intangible asset advisory and transaction specialist. EverEdgeIP assists senior management, boards and investors to identify, manage and generate value from intangible assets.

Since embarking upon his technology commercialisation career in the late 1990s, Paul has worked with some of the world’s leading technology companies.

Paul holds degrees in Law (Honours) specialising in software licensing law and Arts (major: Economics and History) from the University of Auckland.

The Auckland Branch Committee is pleased to announce Shane McMahon as winner of the 2014 Emerging Director Award.

Shane is an experienced leader with a strong background in infrastructure and technology. He was involved with the New Zealand success story, Navman, for five years in senior international sales and marketing roles. Shane has been with NZ Bus (Infratil) for the last five years, where he is currently the Chief Operating Officer Northern, leading a team of 1200 focused on excellence in a complex operating environment. He is an executive director with NZ Bus and a non-executive director of Auckland's CBD business association, Heart of the City.

Shane has a BCom in Economics from Canterbury University and is a Member of the IoD. He and his wife spend most of their spare time with their two boys playing sport or enjoying the great outdoors.

As winner of the Award, Shane will receive:

  • $2000 (GST excl) towards an IoD professional development course of his choice
  • A year's complimentary membership of the IoD
  • Complimentary attendance at all branch functions for 12 months
  • Access to a senior director as mentor during the coming year

Please do join us in congratulating Shane!


Nicky Duggan and Warren DalzellThe Institute of Directors (IoD) Auckland Branch has announced Nicola Duggan as the recipient of its inaugural Emerging Director Study Award (pictured with Warren Dalzell after receiving her award at a special cocktail function earlier this month, 4 November).

Nicky is Executive Director and a shareholder in Evolution of Surfaces Ltd, and has already made contributions in sports, community and commercial governance.

Her background combines a blue chip career path with exposure to best-practice strategy, sales, marketing and commercial processes, complimented by a range of entrepreneurial business experiences. She is currently a board director of Auckland Rugby Union and her own businesses, and a former director of Surf Life Saving New Zealand, Lifeline NZ and Hell Pizza.