Massey recognises top alumni


More than 200 people packed out the ballroom at Auckland's Grand Millennium Hotel last night, for the Defining Excellence Awards.


A Dannevirke farmer and agri-business leader, a top Wellington civil servant and the head of a major British bank are among former Massey University students whose contributions were recognised by the University tonight with Distinguished Alumni Awards.

The University’s most prestigious alumni award, the Sir Geoffrey Peren Medal, named after Massey's founding Principal, was presented to Ross McEwan, chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland. Mr McEwan graduated with a Bachelor of Business Studies in 1979.

Massey Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas says the award is presented to a true visionary, a leader and someone well respected in their field of expertise for significant and ongoing contributions to business or professional life, as well as meritorious service to the University, community or nation.

The Sir Geoffrey Peren Medal was presented to Ross McEwan, chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland.


Professor Thomas says Massey's vision of shaping the nation and taking the best of New Zealand to the rest of the world is no more appropriately reflected than in the achievements of its more than 140,000 alumni around the world.

"It is not just the high-fliers on the international stage – and we have many of those – but also the people who make a difference to other people's lives and in their own communities, often without recognition. We know from their stories that many of them trace the formation of their values and attitudes back to their time studying with us. It makes us enormously proud to have contributed to their personal development and success."

Mr McEwan, who returned to New Zealand to receive the award at a function in Auckland, began his business career in personnel and human resources roles at Unilever, Dunlop and National Mutual, which he headed in New Zealand after the takeover by Axa. He was general manager at the stockbroking firm First New Zealand Capital Securities before joining the Commonwealth Bank of Australia as group executive for retail banking services. In 2012 he became chief executive officer for United Kingdom retail at the Royal Bank of Scotland before securing the top job the following year.The bank, once the world's largest, remains Britain's biggest for corporate and business banking.

He described the award as "an absolute honour" and his time at Massey University as probably the best years of his life. "You've come out of school, you're away from home, you're actually meeting lots of really exciting people and getting a bit of an education on the way through there. It was also the place where I met my wife."

To see a video interview with Mr McEwan, click here.

Mavis Mullins was presented with the Distinguished Alumni Service Award for her work in agri-business.


The annual Defining Excellence Awards recognise Massey University graduates, researchers and teachers who have made outstanding contributions in their careers or to their communities, as well as partner institutions or businesses that have worked closely with the University over several years.

The other alumni recipients are:

  • Mavis Mullins (MBA 1996), director of Paewai Mullins Shearing, was presented the Distinguished Alumni Service Award for her work in agri-business.

  • Pengbo Jiang (Master of Management 2016), senior consultant at Global Immigration in Wellington, received the Distinguished Young Alumni Award.

  • Peter Chrisp (Master of Arts 1986), chief executive at New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, received the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award.


Peter Chrisp, chief executive at New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, received the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award.


The recipients of the Partnership Excellence Awards, which recognises businesses and other organisations the University has special relationships with, were The Warehouse Group in the domestic category and Weta Workshop in the international category. This was the first year the University presented two partnership awards.

In addition the University's annual teaching and research excellence awards from last year were presented.

Team Research Award - The Animal Welfare Science and Bioethics Centre - Professor David Mellor, Professor Craig Johnson, Professor Kevin Stafford, Dr Ngaio Beausoleil and Neil Ward.
Research Excellence Awards - Professor Tony Parker and Professor Marlena Kruger
Research Supervisor Award - Professor Kevin Stafford
Early Career Medal Awards - Shannon Te Ao, Dr Jodie Hunter and Dr David Aguirre
Teaching Excellence Award - Associate Professor Margaret Brunton
Teaching Excellence Support Award - Martin McMorrow

Pengbo Jiang, senior consultant at Global Immigration in Wellington, received the Distinguished Young Alumni Award.


Partnership Excellence Awards finalists

The Warehouse Group is a major supporter of the Massey Business School, providing significant assistance for the school’s retail studies initiatives. The group has endorsed research conducted at the Centre for Advanced Retail Studies and contributes to the success of the annual Sir Stephen Tindall Distinguished Professor Lecture. They sponsor the Stephen Small Award for the best overall student performance in the Fundamentals of Retailing paper; the prize includes a day shadowing a senior executive at the group.

In recent years the College of Creative Arts and Weta Workshop have developed a strong relationship, which has seen many joint initiatives undertaken. Together the organisations have visited the People’s Liberation Army Academy of Art in China and jointly hosted the academy when they visited New Zealand. Last year, Massey and Weta sponsored New Zealand’s first 'Art and Industry of Imagination' conference, which saw leading artists from New Zealand and around the world meet to discuss and demonstrate the behind-the-scenes magic that turns sci-fi and fantasy worlds into on-screen reality.

The New Zealand Defence Force involvement with the University’s teaching programmes spans more than two decades and includes conjoint teaching, with teaching fellows from the force seconded to Massey to teach defence and security. To mark the 100th commemoration of the World War I Massey and the force, along with two other organisations, signed a partnering arrangement to produce The Centenary History of New Zealand and the First World War. This major research project will see 14 books published exploring different aspects of the War and creating the definitive history of the New Zealand experience.

The New Zealand Leather and Shoe Research Association and the College of Sciences have collaborated for more than a decade in an effort to remain current with the scientific advances related to the leather and shoe industries, both of which are valued components of New Zealand’s land-based primary industries.

The College of Creative Arts and the Wellington City Council have worked together for the past five years to further connect the University with the Capital. This relationship has seen the council provide the college with funding support, resourcing and guidance across a number of innovative and creative enterprise focused projects. Additionally the college has collaborated with the council’s major projects – urban design, arts, Grow Wellington and neighbourhood teams on initiatives including Lux, Te Whare Hera International Arts Residency, the Spring project and the Value of Design project.

Assistant Vice-Chancellor External Relations and Development Penelope Barr-Sellers, David Wilks, general manager at Weta Workshop and NZME business reporter Holly Ryan.


Distinguished Alumni Awards

Mavis Mullins, of Rangitāne, Te Atihaunui-a-Paparangi and Ngāti Ranginui, has forged a path in the primary sector, with a lengthy career in agri-business. Mrs Mullins is a fourth-generation sheep farmer. She and husband Koro run a shearing contracting business and she has more than 20 years experience in governance in public and private enterprises. She started her MBA at Massey after her fourth child left school, graduating in 1996.

She has sat on the boards of Landcorp, the MidCentral and Wairarapa District Health Boards, Massey University's Council, 2degrees, Mobile and Aohanga Incorporation. She currently chairs Atihau Whanganui Incorporation, the Māori business development Poutama Trust, Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre and the governance entity Rangitāne Tu Mai Ra.

Mrs Mullins, a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, won the rural category at last year’s Women of Influence Awards and will be inducted in to the New Zealand Business Hall of Fame in July.

Peter Chrisp graduated with Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in social sciences and has been New Zealand Trade and Enterprise chief executive since 2010. During the past 30 years he has had roles in the engineering, manufacturing and pulp and paper industries. He started his work life with the New Zealand Engineering Union as an educator and negotiator, progressed through the management ranks at Fletcher Challenge and then Norske Skog Paper, first in Kawerau then company headquarters in Oslo before moving to Sydney to run the Australasian businesses.

Mr Chrisp has held several board roles including the New Zealand Qualifications Authority, the Education Training and Support Agency, the Australia Pulp and Paper Industry Council, the New Zealand China Council and the NZ Story group.

Pengbo Jiang is Master of Management graduate making a name for himself as an advocate for new migrants. The 26-year-old, who moved to Wellington from China as a child, wants to ensure the settling experience for new migrants is as smooth as possible. During the past 13 years he has volunteered thousands of hours to different organisations in Wellington, working with new migrants.

He helps to promote and fundraise to showcase their cultures in the community and also offers student and business mentorship. Mr Jiang works as a senior consultant at Ernst and Young. In recognition of his community services he has been awarded the Pride of Workmanship Award by Rotary International and a Volunteer Connect Award by the Wellington City Council.

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2016 Defining Excellence Awards

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