CIO

Movers and shakers: Elinor Swery, Sarah Bowden and Nona Pedersen

Meet the first recipient of the Kordia Women in Technology Scholarship

Elinor Swery is now a product manager at Nexar, a startup in Israel.

Before this, she was senior solutions architect at Soul Machines and also worked as senior consultant digital strategy at IBM, working on AI adoption and enablement.

Swery has a PhD in mechanical engineering from the University of Auckland. She remains on the industry advisory board of  the University of Canterbury School of Product Design.

Sarah Bowden
Sarah Bowden

Sarah Bowden is appointed director of commercial and partner business at Microsoft New Zealand, succeeding Phil Goldie who is returning to Australia.

Bowden has been with Microsoft since 2010, holding several roles within the team, including corporate accounts manager for public sector, partner sales executive and SMB lead. She previously spent 11 years at Fuji Xerox.

In her new role, Bowden will be responsible for helping forge new relationships with tech partners, manage existing relationships and act as a tech evangelist on Microsoft services and platforms such as Azure, Office 365 and Dynamics 365. Microsoft New Zealand’s OCP ecosystem already includes more than 1,200 major New Zealand partners.

“I’m so excited about where Microsoft is heading, particularly the opportunities opening up for our partners,” says Bowden. “I’m looking forward to seeing the impact our partner ecosystem, both local and global, will have on the future success of both our business and theirs.”

Bowden will be starting her new role in April. Recruitment is underway for a new SMB lead at Microsoft NZ.

Emily Sopers
Emily Sopers

Emily Sopers is the first recipient of the Kordia Women in Technology scholarship.

She will receive the $5000 scholarship as she enters her final year at the University of Waikato studying a Bachelor of Engineering (Environmental).

The scholarship was established by Kordia last year in a bid to address the gender imbalance in the information and communications technology sector.

Sopers says diversity in the workplace is an important factor for her and she was inspired by Kordia’s goal to increase the number of women working in technology.

“I read about Kordia and the work it does, which sparked my interest in the IT sector. Although it can be intimidating entering a workforce dominated by males, I also find it very empowering.

“I feel incredibly honoured and excited that Kordia saw my potential in the technology sector and am thankful for the support they have given me that will enable me to further my career aspirations,” says Sopers.

Anna Ferguson, Kordia’s executive general manager people and culture, says the company is excited to champion the role of women in the technology sector and is thrilled to find an outstanding candidate for the scholarship.

“Emily was clearly a stand out as the inaugural recipient for the Kordia Women in Technology scholarship. She not only demonstrated excellent academic merit and a passion for her chosen field in engineering, but importantly she displayed remarkable determination, a thirst for learning and solving complex problems, which align well with Kordia's vision and values,” says Ferguson.

Scholarship panel members Associate Professor Michael Mucalo and Dr Chaitanya Joshi were very impressed with the high calibre of the candidates they interviewed, making the final selection a difficult process.

“The quality, diversity and enthusiasm of the candidates was evident, and this scholarship, with Kordia’s instant brand recognition, will help attract more talented female students to STEM subjects,” Dr Joshi says. “We wish Emily well for her final year of study.”

Kordia’s Women in Technology Scholarship will be an annual prize awarded to up-and-coming female talent and future technology leaders.

Statistics New Zealand confirms that 80 per cent of the IT workforce is male – a statistic Kordia is determined to help rectify.

Kiwi women tech leaders: Alex Garkavenko of Dexibit, Amelia Gain of Preno, Alyona Medelyan of Thematic, Gemma Hurst of PageProof, Miriana Lowrie of 1Centre and Angie Judge of Dexibit
Kiwi women tech leaders: Alex Garkavenko of Dexibit, Amelia Gain of Preno, Alyona Medelyan of Thematic, Gemma Hurst of PageProof, Miriana Lowrie of 1Centre and Angie Judge of Dexibit

Ferguson notes that scholarships play an important role in promoting IT and technical subjects to women considering their study options. Kordia hopes its scholarship will encourage more women to consider a career in IT.   

Scholarship selection was made by a Selection Panel comprised of the University of Waikato’s Chair of the Scholarships Committee, as well as the Scholarships Committee representative from the Faculty of Computing and Mathematical Sciences and the Faculty of Science and Engineering, the General Manager of Aura Information Security, and the Executive General Manager People and Culture of Kordia.

Nona Pedersen
Nona Pedersen

Nona Pedersen is promoted to general manager of Oceanmax, a Kiwi firm behind marine products Propspeed and Lightspeed.

Pedersen, 26, joined the West Auckland company Oceanmax after graduating from Auckland University of Technology where she received her bachelor’s degree in business in 2014 majoring in marketing and management.

She was most recently been Oceanmax’s marketing manager for their portfolio of high-performance marine products that are exported to 30 countries. Some 95 per cent of Oceanmax’s product output is exported. Over 15,000 recreational boats in the US have their propellers and running gear treated with Propspeed. 

Her new role will include global product growth, the creation and implementation of new product strategies, team growth, and supply and manufacturing partner management.

“This is not the future I saw, but this is exactly where I am supposed to be,” says Pederson.  “In 2014 I applied for a coordinator role with Jacobsen Holdings to complete market research on a subsidiary company called Oceanmax. I knew nothing about boats at the time, but I dedicated myself to learn everything I could about propellers and the complex conditions inherent in the bio-chemistry of submerged surfaces, as well as the global market opportunity Oceanmax had ahead of them. 

“Working in a growing industry I was exposed to all areas of the business – marketing, sales, production, engineering, admin, finance, legal. This exposure has allowed me to grow into my role, and I am thrilled to work alongside my team in a new capacity as we take New Zealand’s marine expertise to the rest of the world.”

Oceanmax develops high-performance products that make marine craft more efficient and economical to run and maintain, with the intention of doing the least harm to humans and the marine environment. Oceanmax manufactures and distributes Propspeed, recognised globally as the leading product for preventing marine growth on underwater metals.