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OUR PEOPLE

Meet the team behind the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship


Darsel Keane

CIE Director

Darsel has previously worked at the Icehouse and EverEdge IP in intellectual property and commercialisation consulting. Her PhD examines how to measure an entrepreneurial mindset. Darsel has been foundational in establishing programmes at the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and in building Unleash Space from the ground up.

Learn more about Darsel

 

Professor Rod McNaughton

Academic Director

Rod is a professor of entrepreneurship at the University of Auckland Business School. He has extensive experience developing entrepreneurial ecosystems and helping start-ups launch and grow. An internationally-recognised thought leader on entrepreneurship issues, Rod’s scholarly research is published in more than 100 refereed journal articles and books.

Learn more about Rod

Natasha Koekemoer

Peter Rachor

Hynds Entrepreneurial Teaching Fellow

As our Hynds Fellow, Peter focuses on integrating entrepreneurship across curricular courses and programmes throughout the University. With a lifelong passion for innovation and global opportunities, he has co-founded three companies, taught at 3 US academic institutions, developed learning modules for university and community-based entrepreneurship initiatives, and lived on four continents.

Learn more about Peter

Judith Marecek

CIE Manager

Judith has held a variety of digital and traditional marketing roles in the publishing industry in New Zealand. She has worked in events at the Parliament House of Australia in Canberra and the Irish Management Institute in Dublin.

Learn more about Judith

Kirsten Beckman

Sandy Lin

CIE Programme Manager

Sandy is passionate about creating experiences that inspire learning and growth. She has an engineering background and has worked in a range of roles, dedicated to supporting student learning, fostering researcher skills development, and enhancing the doctoral experience. She enjoys helping others to flourish and realise their aspirations.

Kirsten Beckman

Kirsten Beckman

CIE Programme Adviser

Kirsten enjoys enabling people to grow their ideas and discover their capabilities, while pushing the boundaries of what they think is possible. She thrives in a creative environment with passionate people and has a depth of knowledge in training, administration, and hospitality.

Learn more about Kirsten

Kirsten Beckman

Nova Jackson

CIE Programme Adviser

Fusing a career backstage in performing arts with her current business studies, and as a former Unleash Kaihangarau Auaha Creative Technologist Nova is dedicated to problem-solving, creativity, and sustainability. With her background in event management and design, Nova is a familiar face across various CIE programmes and events.

Learn more about Nova

 

Kirsten Beckman

Maru Maxwell

CIE Programme Coordinator

Maru is an AUT graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in International Studies, having majored in Japanese and Spanish. Passionate about diversity and creativity, Maru makes an oath to build positive, meaningful, long-lasting connections. With a background in supporting international and Māori students at AUT, she is skilled at encouraging growth and empowering the next generation.

 

 

Sean Kelly

CIE Technology and Prototyping Manager

Sean is passionate about cultivating a new technological culture that brings together and encourages entrepreneurs and makers alike. A graduate of International Studies from Deakin University and a former tradesman Sean transitioned to the tech sector in the U.S. by working as a Technologist at the successful and unique technology space, Do Space.

Learn more about Sean 

Naomi Bradshaw

CIE Engagement Manager

Naomi is passionate about community development and enabling the potential of others. She has previously held marketing and communication roles at the University of Auckland and Ministry of Social Development and an economic development role with the K Road Business Association.

Learn more about Naomi

Kirsten Beckman

Jean Bayron

CIE Hub & Operations Manager

Jean has worked at the UoA Faculty of Medical Health Sciences (FMHS) as a Technical Manager supporting teaching delivery and overseeing operations management for a few years before moving to CIE. She enjoys working on operational and process improvements, administration and collaboration. She is a forward-thinking professional interested in innovation and its transformative power and has been consistently driven by pursuing creative solutions to various problems. 

Learn more about Jean

Kirsten Beckman

Jorela Romero

CIE Operations Coordinator

Jorela is a passionate problem-solver with a penchant for anything nice and creative. She has worked as an administrative support and has also been an accredited real estate property consultant and broker support. When she’s not at her desk, you’ll find Jorela organising, tidying up, and enjoying a cup of good coffee. She is always up for a good laugh and a great adventure.

Learn more about Jorela

Kirsten Beckman

Yaqi Zhang

CIE Hub Coordinator

Yaqi is a recent graduate of the University of Auckland Law School, bringing a strong foundation in law coupled with an academic background in sociology and economics from previous studies. Her passion lies in youth development and coordinating inspiring activities to foster growth and empowerment. Yaqi’s entrepreneurial spirit shines through in her desire to make a meaningful impact on the lives of young people.

 

Kirsten Beckman

Guy Bate

Academic Programme Director

Guy is currently a Lecturer in Technology Commercialisation & Strategy at the University of Auckland. Prior to entering academia, he worked for nearly 20 years in the pharmaceutical, health technology and biotechnology industries, leading strategy, new product planning, business transformation, and commercial operations.

 

Kirsten Beckman

Ken Erskine

Venture Lab Manager

Ken is a seasoned mentor, investor, and entrepreneur with a wealth of experience in the New Zealand and international start-up ecosystems. He has successfully mentored hundreds of Kiwi businesses, guiding them from seed ideas to successful global companies.

 

Kirsten Beckman

Deborah Shepherd

CIE Entrepreneurial Fellow

Deb is part-time Senior Lecturer at the University, designing and delivering some of CIE’s programmes that support innovators and early-stage start-up founders. She also has roles as a board member, advisor, investor, educator and business owner, including a board role with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE), New Zealand’s international business development agency. Deb is also Advisor to the New Zealand Government’s Minister of Small Business, and Chair of Soul Capital, a social impact investment firm.

 

Kirsten Beckman

Duncan Ledwith

Venture Lab and Researcher Hatchery Manager

Since moving to New Zealand from Scotland in 2005 Duncan has been a driving force in the local start-up ecosystem through mentorship, education, investment, and more. He is widely recognised as a leading expert in market validation and has been involved in the Icehouse and CIE from the very start.

 

Kirsten Beckman

Elisabeth Vaneveld

Researcher Hatchery Manager

Elisabeth is a strategist, leader and facilitator working in New Zealand’s creative sector. Her experience includes establishing start-up organisations, designing programmes, devising productions, managing tours, organising festivals, activating projects, developing partnerships, building networks and facilitating change.

 

 

Kirsten Beckman

Craig Squire

Researcher Hatchery Manager

Craig has been involved in the Auckland tech start-up community since joining Ice Angels in 2011. With many years of engaging with complex science and potential customers and investors, Craig’s experience helps founders and early-stage investors move forward with confidence. Ensuring that the big questions have been asked and answered and a clear path to market (where identified) is able to be articulated.

 

 

Kirsten Beckman

Anna St. George

Researcher Hatchery Manager

Anna has worked across sectors from Spark to Les Mills International, to start-ups to her own. From bedding to health, from B2B, performance-based models to brand building – there isn’t a lot she hasn’t covered including working deals with Google, building business cases, influencing App roadmaps and working in the trenches. She has delivered multiple commercialisation projects, with a consumer, communications and purpose driven lens.

 

 

Darsel Keane

CIE Director

Darsel has previously worked at the Icehouse and EverEdge IP in intellectual property and commercialisation consulting. Her PhD examines how to measure an entrepreneurial mindset. Darsel has been foundational in establishing programmes at the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and in building Unleash Space from the ground up.

Learn more about Darsel

Professor Rod McNaughton

Academic Director

Rod is a professor of entrepreneurship at the University of Auckland Business School. He has extensive experience developing entrepreneurial ecosystems and helping start-ups launch and grow. An internationally-recognised thought leader on entrepreneurship issues, Rod’s scholarly research is published in more than 100 refereed journal articles and books.

Learn more about Rod

Natasha Koekemoer

Peter Rachor

Hynds Entrepreneurial Teaching Fellow

As our Hynds Fellow, Peter focuses on integrating entrepreneurship across curricular courses and programmes throughout the University. With a lifelong passion for innovation and global opportunities, he has co-founded three companies, taught at 3 US academic institutions, developed learning modules for university and community-based entrepreneurship initiatives, and lived on four continents.

Learn more about Peter

Judith Marecek

CIE Manager

Judith has held a variety of digital and traditional marketing roles in the publishing industry in New Zealand. She has worked in events at the Parliament House of Australia in Canberra and the Irish Management Institute in Dublin.

Learn more about Judith

Kirsten Beckman

Sandy Lin

CIE Programme Manager

Sandy is passionate about creating experiences that inspire learning and growth. She has an engineering background and has worked in a range of roles, dedicated to supporting student learning, fostering researcher skills development, and enhancing the doctoral experience. She enjoys helping others to flourish and realise their aspirations.

Kirsten Beckman

Kirsten Beckman

CIE Programme Adviser

Kirsten enjoys enabling people to grow their ideas and discover their capabilities, while pushing the boundaries of what they think is possible. She thrives in a creative environment with passionate people and has a depth of knowledge in training, administration, and hospitality.

Learn more about Kirsten

Kirsten Beckman

Nova Jackson

CIE Programme Adviser

Fusing a career backstage in performing arts with her current business studies, and as a former Unleash Kaihangarau Auaha Creative Technologist Nova is dedicated to problem-solving, creativity, and sustainability. With her background in event management and design, Nova is a familiar face across various CIE programmes and events.

Learn more about Nova

 

Kirsten Beckman

Maru Maxwell

CIE Programme Coordinator

Maru is an AUT graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in International Studies, having majored in Japanese and Spanish. Passionate about diversity and creativity, Maru makes an oath to build positive, meaningful, long-lasting connections. With a background in supporting international and Māori students at AUT, she is skilled at encouraging growth and empowering the next generation.

 

 

Sean Kelly

CIE Technology and Prototyping Manager

Sean is passionate about cultivating a new technological culture that brings together and encourages entrepreneurs and makers alike. A graduate of International Studies from Deakin University and a former tradesman Sean transitioned to the tech sector in the U.S. by working as a Technologist at the successful and unique technology space, Do Space.

Learn more about Sean 

Naomi Bradshaw

CIE Engagement Manager

Naomi is passionate about community development and enabling the potential of others. She has previously held marketing and communication roles at the University of Auckland and Ministry of Social Development and an economic development role with the K Road Business Association.

Learn more about Naomi

Kirsten Beckman

Jean Bayron

CIE Hub & Operations Manager

Jean has worked at the UoA Faculty of Medical Health Sciences (FMHS) as a Technical Manager supporting teaching delivery and overseeing operations management for a few years before moving to CIE. She enjoys working on operational and process improvements, administration and collaboration. She is a forward-thinking professional interested in innovation and its transformative power and has been consistently driven by pursuing creative solutions to various problems. 

Learn more about Jean

 

Kirsten Beckman

Jorela Romero

CIE Operations Coordinator

Jorela is a passionate problem-solver with a penchant for anything nice and creative. She has worked as an administrative support and has also been an accredited real estate property consultant and broker support. When she’s not at her desk, you’ll find Jorela organising, tidying up, and enjoying a cup of good coffee. She is always up for a good laugh and a great adventure.

Learn more about Jorela

Kirsten Beckman

Yaqi Zhang

CIE Hub Coordinator

Yaqi is a recent graduate of the University of Auckland Law School, bringing a strong foundation in law coupled with an academic background in sociology and economics from previous studies. Her passion lies in youth development and coordinating inspiring activities to foster growth and empowerment. Yaqi’s entrepreneurial spirit shines through in her desire to make a meaningful impact on the lives of young people.

 

Kirsten Beckman

Guy Bate

Academic Programme Director

Guy is currently a Lecturer in Technology Commercialisation & Strategy at the University of Auckland. Prior to entering academia, he worked for nearly 20 years in the pharmaceutical, health technology and biotechnology industries, leading strategy, new product planning, business transformation, and commercial operations.

 

Kirsten Beckman

Ken Erskine

Venture Lab Manager

Ken is a seasoned mentor, investor, and entrepreneur with a wealth of experience in the New Zealand and international start-up ecosystems. He has successfully mentored hundreds of Kiwi businesses, guiding them from seed ideas to successful global companies.

 

Kirsten Beckman

Deborah Shepherd

CIE Entrepreneurial Fellow

Deb is part-time Senior Lecturer at the University, designing and delivering some of CIE’s programmes that support innovators and early-stage start-up founders. She also has roles as a board member, advisor, investor, educator and business owner, including a board role with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE), New Zealand’s international business development agency. Deb is also Advisor to the New Zealand Government’s Minister of Small Business, and Chair of Soul Capital, a social impact investment firm.

 

Kirsten Beckman

Duncan Ledwith

Venture Lab and Researcher Hatchery Manager

Since moving to New Zealand from Scotland in 2005 Duncan has been a driving force in the local start-up ecosystem through mentorship, education, investment, and more. He is widely recognised as a leading expert in market validation and has been involved in the Icehouse and CIE from the very start.

 

Kirsten Beckman

Elisabeth Vaneveld

Researcher Hatchery Manager

Elisabeth is a strategist, leader and facilitator working in New Zealand’s creative sector. Her experience includes establishing start-up organisations, designing programmes, devising productions, managing tours, organising festivals, activating projects, developing partnerships, building networks and facilitating change.

 

 

Kirsten Beckman

Craig Squire

Researcher Hatchery Manager

Craig has been involved in the Auckland tech start-up community since joining Ice Angels in 2011. With many years of engaging with complex science and potential customers and investors, Craig’s experience helps founders and early-stage investors move forward with confidence. Ensuring that the big questions have been asked and answered and a clear path to market (where identified) is able to be articulated.

 

 

Kirsten Beckman

Anna St. George

Researcher Hatchery Manager

Anna has worked across sectors from Spark to Les Mills International, to start-ups to her own. From bedding to health, from B2B, performance-based models to brand building – there isn’t a lot she hasn’t covered including working deals with Google, building business cases, influencing App roadmaps and working in the trenches. She has delivered multiple commercialisation projects, with a consumer, communications and purpose driven lens.

 

 

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