The panel is responsible for providing strategic guidance and ensuring that our programmes and qualifications are world class and industry relevant.
Danushka Abeysuriya, Rush Digital - CTO & Founder
Danushka’s specialist engineering studio Rush Digital Interactive has swelled to over 35 staff since it was founded in 2010. International clients include Microsoft, Under Armour, Heineken and Samsung, with local clients like TVNZ and Fonterra also looking to Rush for leadership in developing innovative technology solutions.
Danu and his team of hand-picked software engineers collaborate using a unique breadth of skills that allow them to create original solutions for every brief, and they're regarded within the industry as the fail-safe team to turn to.
Danu graduated with honours from the University of Auckland in 2007 and remains CTO of Rush Digital, preferring to leave the business side to his investors.
Simon Alty, Managing Director- Bethesda Australia & New Zealand
Simon has been a part of the global video games and entertainment industries for over 25 years and today is the Managing Director of Bethesda Australia & New Zealand.
Since coming to the fore as part of the legendary Ocean Software team back in nineties, Simon developed his career with global gaming companies Atari, Rising Star Games and The 3DO Company before running award winning international business and entertainment marketing consultancies in both Australia and the UK. A leader for today's rapidly changing creative businesses, Simon has an innate understanding of the consumer and this deep engagement combined with constant new thinking in developing business and marketing strategies has delivered some spectacular successes - creatively and commercially.
A passionate advocate of the potential for video games development, Simon has played a pivotal role in bringing hundreds of games to the digital and physical markets. From V Rally, Jurassic Park and Worms in the 90's, to The Elder Scrolls, Wolfenstein, Fallout, Quake, DOOM and many more.
Matt Aitken, Weta Digital - Visual Effects Supervisor
Matt has worked at Weta Digital since the early days of the company. He was Digital Models Supervisor on The Lord of the Rings trilogy, preproduction/R&D supervisor for King Kong and CG Supervisor for Avatar.
Matt’s credits as a Visual Effects Supervisor includes Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin, Peter Jackson’s King Kong 360 3-D attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood, The Lovely Bones, District 9 (which won him a nomination for Best Visual Effects Oscar), Iron Man 3 and The Hobbit Trilogy. He has recently completed work on Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day: Resurgence.
Matt has a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from Victoria University of Wellington and a Master of Science in Computer Graphics from Middlesex University, London.
He has had technical papers published by Eurographics and Graphite and has given presentations on Weta Digital’s work at many conferences and festivals including SIGGRAPH, FMX, the Australian Effects and Animation Festival, Imagina, the London Effects and Animation Festival and AnimfxNZ.
Matt is an active member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Visual Effects Society.
Dean Butchers, ATEED - GM Business Attraction and Investment
Dean has had an extensive private sector career with significant international business experience. He joined ATEED (Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development) following several senior executive positions at IBM – his final role being general manager of the company’s high-performing Systems and Technology Group.
While working with IBM’s former personal computing division – now called Lenovo – Dean was based in Japan and the US, and completed an MBA in general management from the business school of Duke University.
He has also held senior management roles at Hewlett-Packard, Telecom and OfficeMax New Zealand.
Ed Hyde, Qrious - CEO
Ed is currently CEO of Qrious, a Big Data and Analytics business which launched in March 2014 tasked with delivering value to customers through the better use of data. Qrious is part of Spark NZ Ltd – the largest Telecommunications business in NZ.
Prior to this Ed has been responsible for the development of a number of startups in the data and mobile domain in both the UK and NZ and spent a number of years as GM of Mobile for Spark NZ Ltd
He has a passion for digital, transformational technologies and disruptive business models and played a key role in the setup of Spark Ventures and new growth unit specifically targeted at driving new revenue in the digital domain.
Dr Roy Davies, Imersia - CEO & Cofounder
Dr Roy Davies is a pioneer in the Mixed Reality field, with a career spanning 25 years in both academia and industry. This began in the early days of Virtual Reality bringing together Computer Science and Cognitive Science around usability in brain injury rehabilitation and participatory design at the University of Lund in southern Sweden. From there, he established the Flexible Reality Centre which is still in operation today. Moving to New Zealand, Dr. Davies helped create an initiative by the government to foster industry and academic growth in 3D visualisation embodied in a company called Nextspace. However, these experiences did nothing to prepare him for the rigours of cofounding a Technology startup – Imersia, but did furnish him with deep insight into new ‘Reality’ technologies that will be entering mainstream about now and a desire to create ‘Calm Technologies’.
Marko Klijn, Cirkus - Ringmaster
Marko proclaimed himself the Ringmaster upon Cirkus’s formation back in 2006. Marko has been active in the animation industry for about 17 years which in this trade makes him pretty much, uh well… a dinosaur.
Storytelling, design and character animation are his prime passions, using mixed media if at all possible.
Cirkus uses an out-of-the-box approach to creating fun, off-beat alternatives for communication.
“The significance is that in a Cirkus anything goes (or so we think). We love breaking the rules,” says Klijn.
Patrick McVeigh, ATEED - GM Business, Innovation & Skills
Patrick joined ATEED in 2013 as General Manager, Business, Innovation and Skills and oversees the agency’s work on innovation and entrepreneurship, talent and skills, business and enterprise and trade partnerships. Prior to moving to Auckland, Patrick was the managing director of a UK based economic development consultancy and was previously the Director of Strategy and Corporate Planning for the London Development Agency. Patrick is a chartered Town Planner, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a Director of Economic Development Agencies New Zealand (EDANZ).
Blair Walker, FCB New Zealand - Head of Motion Design & Post Production
Blair Walker is head of motion design & post production at FCB New Zealand.
He is also an Adobe community professional connecting students, freelancers and the wider industry. Utilising social media groups, collaborative projects, industry events and group presentations.
Dan West, FCB New Zealand - Digital Strategy Director
Dan West, Digital Strategy Director at FCB New Zealand. Having worked in digital marketing for over a decade Dan has been responsible for digital strategies that have spanned Websites, eCRM, Mobile, Social, Banner Advertising, tech products and everything in between. An active member in supporting New Zealand’s burgeoning tech start up community he is fascinated by technology as an enabler. He has a keen interest in using digital communications to change human behaviour and interweves psychology and behavioural economics where possible into his strategic recommendations. He has worked on successful campaigns and projects for Coca Cola, eBay, ANZ, the UK and NZ Governments, Air New Zealand and Mitre10, amongst others.
Mario Wynands, PikPok - Managing Director & Cofounder
Mario Wynands is the Managing Director and cofounder of PikPok, a leading publisher across mobile, tablet, and desktop. In his 18 years at the New Zealand based company, he has led studio operations, built a successful game portfolio and overseen the creation of many engaging console titles including Shatter®, GripShift®, and Speed Racer The Videogame, as well as multiple hits in the smartphone and tablet space including Flick Kick® Football, Into the Dead® and the BAFTA nominated Super Monsters Ate My Condo. Wynands is a graduate of Victoria University in Wellington with degrees in business management and computer science, and has studied at MIT Sloan.