Our people

Board of Directors

David Smol

David Smol

Chairman

David was appointed as chief executive of Ministry of Economic Development in 2008. He was the inaugural chief executive of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) from 2012 to 2017.
Since finishing at MBIE, David has undertaken a number of governance and consulting roles, including in energy, health, land transport, housing, commercialisation and economic development.
David has an M-Phil in economics from Cambridge University and was made a Companion of the Queen’s Service Order in 2018.

Annabel Cotton

Annabel Cotton

Director

Annabel Cotton - BMS, ACA, CFInstD, FACA, FAIRA, INFINZ (Fellow)
Annabel is an experienced governor with knowledge of working on public sector boards. Her skills and experience include governance, investor relations, risk and assurance, finance, and accounting.
She is the owner and Managing Director of Merlin Consulting and a professional director with over three decades’ experience advising NZX and ASX listed companies.
Annabel is a director and Audit and Risk Assurance Committee chair of Waikato Regional Airport Limited and Trust Investments Management Limited. She chairs Hamilton & Waikato Tourism Limited. Annabel is also a trustee of several large charitable trusts including Global Women and the Donny Charitable Trust. She is an independent member of the investment committee for private equity fund, NZ Equity Partners, and has chaired the investment committee of several charitable trusts. Her governance experience includes directorships and audit committee membership at Genesis Energy Limited, the Securities Commission, the External Reporting Board and several NZX listed companies.
She has strong knowledge of the financial services industry, and good connections with angel investors, fund managers and funding entities. Annabel has a genuine interest in seeing small business succeed, and a firm understanding of the stakeholder perspective and the challenges faced by start-up companies.

Guy Royal

Guy Royal

Director

Guy is a corporate commercial lawyer with over 20 years of experience who has advised many public and private sector organisations in New Zealand, Hong Kong, Vietnam, and the United Kingdom. He specialises in joint venture arrangements and mergers and acquisitions, particularly with indigenous groups, and has experience advising government and public sector bodies on economic and regulatory issues.
Guy brings specific experience in Iwi and indigenous development models and engagement relationships and networks to the Board. He has strong networks in the Māori community, cares about the success of the Māori economy, and would add value on the Board through his considerable experience in advising Māori entities particularly on investment.
Guy previously held a number of governance positions including Kiwirail, Toitu Te Waonui a forestry fund, ColabNZ - a coworking space provider, Trustee of the Crown Forestry Rental Trust as well as being on the Boards of New Zealand Fast Forward Fund Limited and the Film and Literature Review Board. Guy is currently on the Board of CH4 Global (US-based methane inhibitor technology), Raukawa Asset Holding Company (Iwi investment board), Tawhiwhi Bioactives (functional beverages) and he is Chair of Waste Transformation Limited (waste management technology).

Mel Firmin

Mel Firmin

Director

Mel has good governance experience and a sound understanding of public sector environment and the nature of the relationships between its stakeholders. He has strong experience in investment and funds management, and good knowledge of markets and private funds. He has a strong interest in mentoring young players in the industry and expressed a desire to enable disadvantaged groups.
His current roles include Audit, Risk & Compliance Chairman of Investment Services Group Limited, director of Devon Funds Management and Advisory and Board Member at Thinkladder. He has recently completed the establishment of a KiwiSaver Scheme for a leading financial services firm. Mel was Interim Chief Executive of Investment Services Group Limited (2017 – 2018), Managing Director of Devon Funds Management Limited (2012 – 2017) and Chief Operating Officer of Brook Asset Management Limited (2002 – 2010).

Marcel van den Assum

Marcel van den Assum

Director

Marcel van den Assum is a professional director, independent advisor and angel investor.
His roles include Chairman of Flick Electric Ltd, Sprout Agritech Ltd and Wipster Ltd, and Director of CropX (NZ) Ltd and Education Payroll Ltd, along with Independent Advisory Board positions with New Zealand Inland Revenue and the Ministry of Health. He was Chairman of the Angel Association of NZ, a director of AngelHQ, a founding investor in LightningLab accelerator, and a member of the NZ Institute of Directors.
Prior to his governance career, Marcel was CIO of New Zealand’s largest company Fonterra, and previous to that Managing Principal of Unisys New Zealand holding leadership roles in various global functions. He has worked across many industry sectors, government entities, and in most geographies.
Marcel has a genuine desire to grow companies and New Zealand’s economy, and an interest in NZGCP’s leadership role in market. He has a strong level of understanding of the work of NZGCP, the environment it operates in, the relationship between its stakeholders, and the challenges surrounding its investment and stakeholder relations.
Alongside family and friends, art, music, mountain biking and snowboarding, food and travel are Marcel’s interests.

Independent Members

Danny Lee

Danny Lee

Elevate Investment Committee Member

Danny runs the global private investments at Blue Pool, and joins the NZGCP team as an independent committee member.
Previously with Bain Capital Asia and Investor AB, he has over 20 years of investment experience spanning venture, growth capital and buyout transactions globally. Danny is an Aspen Finance Fellow, Edmund Hillary Fellow and a Chartered Financial Analyst. He serves the community as an independent director at the Hong Kong Chinese Women Club College, guest lecturer for Columbia Business School and Lingnan University, and through his scholarship supporting international students at Columbia University.

Matt Ocko

Matt Ocko

Elevate Investment Committee Member

Matt is an experienced technology entrepreneur and venture capitalist in the US and globally, is co-Managing Partner and co-founder of DCVC (Data Collective), and joins the NZGCP team as an independent committee member.

Matt’s investments on behalf of DCVC span from computational drug discovery and synthetic biology to geospatial and space access platforms, robotics, applied AI, anti-terror systems, and large-scale enterprise platforms including quantum computers. In addition to large IPO outcomes, many of Matt’s prior investments were acquired to become core capabilities of companies like Illumina, Cisco, Google, IBM, Amazon/AWS and Salesforce. His venture investments prior to DCVC include Zoom (ZM), Fortinet (FTNT), D-Wave Systems, Uber (UBER), AngelList, Xensource (CTRX), and Facebook (FB). Matt founded and was VP of R&D of Da Vinci Systems, actively helps development of China’s venture capital and technology regulatory framework, holds a degree in Physics from Yale University, and is an inventor on over 50 granted or in-process patents in areas as diverse as computer systems virtualisation, fraud detection, and AR.

Dana Settle

Dana Settle

Elevate Investment Committee Member

Dana is a Founding Partner with Greycroft, and she heads the firm’s west coast office out of Los Angeles. Dana joins the NZGCP team as an independent committee member.

Prior to Greycroft, Dana spent several years as a venture capitalist and advisor to startup companies in the Bay Area, including six years at Mayfield, where she focused on early stage companies in the mobile communications and consumer Internet markets. Dana currently manages Greycroft’s investments in Anine Bing, AppAnnie, Bird, Clique, Comparably, Goop, Happiest Baby, Seed, Thrive Market, Versed and WideOrbit. She also managed the firm’s investments in numerous brands including; Awesomeness TV (acquired by Dreamworks), Maker Studios (acquired by Disney), and Sometrics (acquired by American Express).

Dana also serves as a Board of Director to IMAX Corporation. Her additional experience includes business development at Truveo (AOL), investment banking at Lehman Brothers and international business development at McCaw Cellular Communications (AT&T). Dana holds a BA in Finance and International Studies from the University of Washington and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Randy Komisar

Randy Komisar

Elevate Strategic Adviser

Randy is an entrepreneur, investor, lecturer and author, and joins the NZGCP team as a Strategic Advisor to the Elevate fund.

Randy was a co-founder of Claris Corp. and served as CEO for LucasArts Entertainment and Crystal Dynamics, a founding director of Tivo, acted as “virtual CEO” for such companies as WebTV and GlobalGiving, and served as CFO of GO Corp., as senior counsel for Apple Computer, and a private practice in technology law. He joined the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins in 2005 to focus on investing in early stage startups. Randy serves on the Roadtrip Nation Advisory Board and Orrick’s Women’s Leadership Board, and serves as a director and advisor to several other organisations. Randy is the author of The Monk and the Riddle, co-author of Straight Talk for Startups.

Randy has been collaborating closely with investors, entrepreneurs, accelerators and policy makers in New Zealand for several years to help build a vigorous innovation hub based upon Kiwi values and objectives. Randy holds a B.A. degree in economics from Brown University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Team

James Pinner

James Pinner

Acting Chief Executive Officer

James joined NZGCP in 2019 to establish the Elevate NZ Venture Fund and support the Aspire NZ Seed Fund. James has over 20 years of corporate finance experience covering venture capital, private equity, corporate M&A and equity capital markets. James’ experience includes 15 years in London, working across North America, Europe, Africa and South-East Asia and more recently working in corporate development in New Zealand for a large family-owned conglomerate. James is a Fellow of Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales, holds a BSc (Hons) from Leeds University and is a member of the NZ Institute of Directors.

Jacques Richter

Jacques Richter

Associate Investment Director

Jacques is an Associate Investment Director supporting both the Aspire NZ Seed Fund and the Elevate NZ Venture Fund. Jacques obtained experience in consulting engineering in the UK and South Africa before joining a development finance institution. He spent five years in venture capital and industry development roles, pursuing the economic growth and industrial development objectives of the bank. Jacques holds a Bachelors degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Pretoria, an MBA from the Graduate School of Business at the University of Cape Town and is a CFA charterholder.

Jason Roche

Jason Roche

Associate Investment Director

Jason is an Associate Investment Director supporting both the Aspire NZ Seed Fund and Elevate NZ Venture Fund. Prior to joining NZGCP, Jason spent six years working in the M&A team at Todd Corporation where he was involved in transactions spanning Energy, Minerals, Property, Agriculture and Technology. Most recently Jason led the acquisition of a Fiji based solar generation company and completed a secondment to Todd Corporation’s Sydney office, where he advised on project finance. Prior to working at Todd, Jason worked as an Energy Market Analyst at NZX Limited and in Corporate Finance at Summerset Group. Jason holds a BCA (HONS) in Finance and Economics from Victoria University in Wellington and is a CFA Charterholder.

Molly Yang

Molly Yang

Investment Manager

Molly Yang is an Investment Manager assisting with key market and analytical information relevant to the Aspire NZ Seed Fund activity. Molly has over 10 years investment and portfolio management experience. She previously worked for US and Chinese venture capital funds in Shanghai, and for Cure Kids Ventures after moving to New Zealand. Molly has a Master of Applied Finance degree from Macquaire University in Sydney.

James Palmer

James Palmer

Investment Manager

James is an Investment Manager supporting both the Aspire NZ Seed Fund and Elevate NZ Venture Fund. Prior to joining NZGCP James worked in the mergers and acquisitions team at Todd Corporation. He has a Masters in Applied Finance and a Bachelor of Commerce from Victoria University, Wellington.

Hursh Shah

Hursh Shah

Investment Manager

Hursh is an Investment Manager looking after the Aspire Fund. Hursh joined NZGCP from the PwC Corporate Finance team in Auckland, having spent three years focussing on M&A and strategic advisory. Prior to this, he worked at PwC UK, mainly advising on distressed debt transactions across Europe. Hursh has also spent a number of years working with start-up and greenfield ventures in East Africa. He holds a BSc in Mathematics, Operational Research, Statistics & Economics from the University of Warwick and is a Chartered Accountant.

Ritaban Banerjee

Ritaban Banerjee

Senior Investment Analyst

Ritaban is a Senior Investment Analyst supporting investments made through the Aspire NZ Seed Fund. Prior to joining NZGCP, Ritaban worked in corporate finance, strategy consulting and economic policy. He has an undergraduate and a Masters degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from Imperial College London. Ritaban has passed the Level III examination of the CFA programme.

Byron van Vugt

Byron van Vugt

Senior Investment Analyst

Byron is a Senior Investment Analyst supporting investments made though the Aspire NZ Seed Fund. After studying Mechanical Engineering, Finance and Marketing at The University of Auckland he then spent four years in a product development role supporting systems engineering, project management and process improvements before joining NZGCP.

Emil Schroder

Emil Schroder

Investment Analyst

Emil has joined NZGCP as an Investment Analyst supporting the Aspire and Elevate funds. Since studying Physics at the University of Canterbury Emil has gone into the education and government IT sectors, working in coordination and lead roles across a range of Agile software delivery teams.

Ben Seto

Ben Seto

Investment Analyst

Ben is an Investment Analyst supporting the Aspire NZ Seed Fund. Prior to joining NZGCP, Ben worked as an Investment Analyst at New Zealand Trade and Enterprise undertaking financial modelling and venture capital. He has also worked in various offshore Asset Management, Law and M&A roles in Tokyo, Melbourne and Auckland. Ben studied a BCom/LLB in Law & Finance from the University of Auckland.

Isabella (Bella) Berry

Isabella (Bella) Berry

Investment Intern

Bella is in her final year of Law studies, having relocated to Auckland from studying in Dunedin. She has a keen interest in venture capital and the start-up ecosystem, alongside a passion for supporting positive change and disruptive companies.

Tana van Loggerenberg

Tana van Loggerenberg

Chief Financial Officer / Chief Operating Officer

Tana is our CFO / COO and responsible for all accounting, budgeting and forecasting. She has extensive experience in the financial services sector specifically cost management, financial planning and reporting, strategy implementation and leadership. Tana has a Masters in Positive Leadership and Strategy from IE Business School, BCom Hon from the University of North West in South Africa and is a CA with the Chartered Accounts Australia and New Zealand.

Anna Yue

Anna Yue

Accountant

Anna is an Accountant responsible for day-to-day accounting, assisting with improving and streamlining internal business processes and providing support for investment reporting. She has extensive accounting experience with companies in various industries across New Zealand. Anna has a Master of Professional Accounting from AUT and is a Chartered Accountant with the Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand.

Danielle Tait

Danielle Tait

Head of People and Culture

Danielle is responsible for developing and implementing HR strategies and initiatives aligned with the NZGCP business strategy and enhancing the employee experience. She is a qualified HR practitioner with over 15 years of HR experience in New Zealand. She’s worked with some of New Zealand’s largest organisations as an HR professional and has spent the last few years supporting CEOs and executive teams to drive strategic change to achieve business outcomes. Danielle holds a Bachelors degree in Human Resource Management and Economics from the University of Cape Town.

Katie Hickmer

Katie Hickmer

Marketing Manager (currently on maternity leave)

Katie is a senior marketing, brand and comms specialist with 15+ years of both international and national experience. Katie has worked in a diverse range of industries (media, travel, tourism, retail, gaming, construction) with both B2B and B2C focus. Working with leading brands such as Disney, BBC, Heathrow Airport, Lotto NZ and JUCY, Katie has led and delivered cross-platform marketing solutions to achieve results. Katie is commercially astute and joined NZGCP to refine our brand, and to develop and implement our marketing and communication initiatives aligned with our strategic business objectives.