Student overwhelmed by AIMES Award win

2015 AIMES Award for Excellence in IT, Innovation and Science winner Sian Simpson receives her award from Massey University Vice Chancellor Steve Maharey.

Twenty-four year old distance student Sian Simpson says it was “mind-blowing” to win an award at the 2015 AIMES (Arts, IT, Innovation and Science, Music, Education, Sport and Service to the Community) Awards.

Ms Simpson received the Massey University Award for Excellence in IT, Innovation and Science at a gala dinner in Auckland on Friday. Currently based between San Francisco and New Zealand, she is working for Kiwi Landing Pad and 90 Seconds, while studying a Bachelor of Business Studies in Marketing and Entrepreneurship.

The AIMES awards are the innovation of the North Harbour Club, a group of local business people aspiring to help talented youth achieve even more. 2015 marks 20 years of rewarding youth excellence in the region.

Entrepreneur Sian Simpson says it was overwhelming to be included in such a talented group. “The talent emerging out of New Zealand, and in particular Auckland’s North Shore is phenomenal, out of this world.

“The prize is a lot of money, $15,000, and if I have learnt anything, it’s that the more help you get, the easier life is. Many helping hands can be a powerful thing.”

Ms Simpson runs the Kiwi Landing Pad, a non-profit organisation in San Francisco, sponsored by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and high profile New Zealand technology investors, entrepreneurs and corporate sponsors. It offers support to New Zealand technology companies that wish to expand into the US market.

“New Zealand businesses are fantastic. They are innovative and hungry, and creating amazing technology. I have learnt so much during my time in San Francisco, I enjoy taking NZ technology to the world and being able to bring the knowledge home. Being able share it with other New Zealanders who are 'doing it' is incredible.”

But as if full time work and study isn’t enough, she is also helping some of Massey’s community establish a Student Entrepreneurship Club.

“Entrepreneurs are part of an ecosystem, which changes and grows the more thats feed into it. They create exciting opportunities and as a result the pipeline of entrepreneurs and technologists increases. Students from the club can go one of two ways – be snapped up by a corporate businesses for intrapreneurship [internal entrepreneurship], or start their own. Either way, they can be a big part of putting New Zealand on the map.”

So how does she fit it all in? “Working in the same industry as my studies really helps. Your experience comes out when you are writing assignments or studying, so you can draw on everything you do on a daily basis. You also just have to do it and embrace how full life gets. This builds strength and resilience. When someone like Sam Morgan tells you to ‘be sticky’ and ‘committed’ you definitely take that on board.”

Chair of Judges and Massey University Albany Campus Registrar Andrea Davies says the depth of youth talent emerging from the North Shore is amazing. “Every year we think we’ve reached a pinnacle, but we continue to be impressed. It’s a very humbling experience to be involved with such talented youth. New Zealand punches well above its weight on the global stage and the pride these young people have in both the North Shore and our country is fantastic.”

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