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I was recently interviewed to discuss my thoughts regarding New Zealand’s slow progress to embrace technology.

Below you will find the interview notes between me and Kip Brook, Editor-in-Chief of Make Lemonade. Enjoy, share, and comment if you'd like to encourage this future.

Kip Brook: How is NZ shaping in terms of technology compared with the rest of the world?

Rachel Kelly: I’ve been disappointed. As a Kiwi living and working in California for 9 years, you get this sense that companies are in a constant battle – working almost tirelessly to stay 5 steps ahead of the competitor. Implementing new systems, new concepts, new ways of managing through technology e.g. business intelligence. When I returned to NZ nearly 3 years ago, the concept of technology and business intelligence was barely discussed and I thought,

“New Zealand – you’re so much better than that”.

I remember telling someone I was in sales, marketing, and business strategy within the technology sector and them having a perplexed expression saying ‘what technology sector?’ I was stunned. Only in the last 12-16 months have I been hearing NZ companies talk about BI, open data sharing, and analytics. We are behind. Period. Yes, we are slowly ramping up. Yes, we are starting to hear about more successes, but I’m talking every day businesses that simply aren’t staying with the times, let alone ahead of the curve. I know we have so much potential, but we are our own worst enemy.

KB: What are our biggest hurdles?

RK: Our biggest problem is our culture. We have a culture of apathy and risk aversion. A culture that says “she’ll be right”. On one hand, I get it. We live in New Zealand. It is beautiful, we get ridiculous amounts of holiday, we go to the beach, we chill out. On the other hand, that apathy and risk aversion is not serving us. As parents, we need to instill a fire in our kids that they have just has much birth rite to build solutions a... Read More...


"Are machines going to take over?"

That is the first question Nigel Latta asked me last week, as I sat in front a television camera.

“How do we prepare for a future where something will replace us?"

This is the type of question I get from law firms contacting me, asking for my help.

With the growth of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and teachers potentially being replaced by AI, I get asked

“Is the future of schools?”

Thinking about these (often) media-sensationalized, technology-forced destinations, it seems incomprehensible at best and dystopian at worst. Neither of these views are helpful or productive.

Correction. They are productive. They produce:

A dramatic increase in fearA palpable sense of uncertainty

In 1943, Abraham Maslow presented a theory in psychology suggesting that for us to lead full, complete, and happy lives there are fundamental needs that need to be met in an increasing hierarchy.

It is understandably called "Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs".

For us to tell ourselves dark stories that the future of technology is a destination out of the Terminator movies or where a substantial number of us lose and cannot find new jobs, it is psychologically crippling.

Not only does the fear and uncertainty negatively impact our safety and security foundation, but for some people (often business-owners) the fear and uncertainty has affected their physiological needs, like sleep. This is not healthy nor is it sustainable.

Now, I understand that technology and rate of change cannot be ignored, but my journey over the 2 years has been trying to re-frame this concept of technology and how we actually deal with it. That is my mission.

Technology is a tool, not a destination.

So when I speak to my clients, the first thing I ask is try is to hold onto these words, because as long as they are fearful and uncertain, they're paralyzed from thinking about their future in a p... Read More...

Rachel Kelly slotted as Guest Speaker at upcoming WINTEC Technology Showcase

This week, I am honoured to speak with the WINTEC internal team about the future of work, how technology is a tool to be used, rather than a destination to fear, and how it still all starts with why.

Now, I'm not going to take any credit for Simon Sinek's Golden Circle - I am simply defending the importance of his ethos in the face of uncertainty. A company humming with a solid 'why' will be able to adapt their drive to whatever landscape they face - which contrasts sharply with only those who only understand 'what'.

Technology is a tool, not a destination

Whether technology takes off as fast as we think, or human's adoption of it will actually hinder the rate of business transformation. I'm looking forward to sharing my thoughts and vision to the team at WINTEC.


Check out my latest news coverage. Excerpt below:

"New Zealanders need to be smarter with the adoption of advanced technologies or the revered Kiwi lifestyle is at massive risk.

That’s the bold claim of Rachel Kelly, director of business growth company SparkTank, who says while some advances in technology are driving other countries to succeed, they are also putting New Zealand at risk of being left behind."


I am writing this as I sit on a Airbus ATR72 flying down to Christchurch for an Executive Women’s Lunch as a board representative from NZTech. My manicured fingernails tapping on the keyboard are punctuated only by brief glances through the window at white fluffy clouds and a beautiful sunrise.

I am 100% prepared to be the serious business woman I have learned how to be on the professional arena when just hours ago I expressed dorky elation, through my very small group of Facebook friends, on the arrival of my inkWELL press package. Stepping back to reflect, it is hard to believe they are the same person, but it does explain why I have an enormous professional network and only a small group of tight friends.

These groups do not typically meet and there are only 1 or 2 people who bridge both.

Historically, the professional norm for most industries has suggested the need to be stuffy and stoic to be taken seriously. This is the chess board we have played on for centuries and over the last 2 decades I have learned how to play the game. Thinking back to the poker faces around the boardroom table in California, my own tailored suit was accessorized by an impassive expression.

I am guilty of previously referring to employees as revenue generators – effectively de-humanizing the core of a successful business.

As such, I have often thought about the duplicity that is my professional and personal self - of de-valuing my own uniqueness to a standardized revenue denominator. During my 9 years in California, I had conceded the game was a legacy set to continue even though I felt it was inefficient and costly.

However, as I work with other Millennials leading successful technology companies, I sense their shared frustration in playing the legacy chess game. I see their personality reluctantly shrink when trying to fit into the sleeves of this old world. What our Baby Boomer (and some Gen-X) business counterparts need to understand is that Millennials... Read More...

Today is the third time in 4 days I have been encouraged to run for Mayor of Hamilton. The first time someone said it, I laughed at how crazy it sounded. However, since it came from a well-connected, high-level business woman who is a director on several national technology boards, I wondered if it had merit. When two other similarly-connected and well-regarded Hamilton businessmen suggested I run for Mayor, I felt like I was Alice down the rabbit hole. “Are you serious? Why would anyone vote for a 34-year-old?” to which I received the response:

“You have the commercial experience, passion, drive, and an amazing vision for Hamilton”

So, as I reflect on these comments, together with the conversations I’ve had with the current Hamilton Mayor, Deputy Mayor, various Members of Parliament, NZ Government Ministers, and local business leaders, I wanted to coalesce my thoughts and vision. If only, for the record.

Since returning to Hamilton in 2014, after 8.5 years within the California high-tech sector, I have spent time watching and listening with a fresh pair of eyes and ears. In my humble opinion, Hamilton city is the best-kept secret within New Zealand. We have a healthy population of ~150,000 people: big enough to draw in the larger retail outlets, nurture highly-successful SMEs, house multi-national corporations, exercise political clout where necessary, and host some big events. However, we are also small enough to where traffic may add an extra 15mins and we don’t have to try too hard to lead a balanced life. As much as our youth demographic would contest this,

our old slogan "Hamilton - Where It's Happening” was actually true.

Perhaps not for entertaining our youth, but it is true when it comes to our regional economy. Hamilton businesses and people go about their days, weeks, and months making lots of little things happen within their silo of influence. Like a well-oiled car engine, we turn the wheels slowly and quietly without ... Read More...

It was my pleasure to represent SparkTank as a guest judge and interviewer at the Job in a Jiffy event held by the University of Waikato Management Communication Students Association last night. Some really great students, with incredible visions for themselves in the next 5 years.

Congratulations to Deanna Morse for winning the 'contract', with Emily Svadlenak, Jannik Dorr, Kaelyn Derryn-July, Doogle Rauch, and Thaddaeus Cobb as honorable mentions.

Interviewing Kaelyn Derryn-July

Interviewing Emily Svadlenak

The Team


I am truly honoured to be a guest lecturer at an upcoming Waikato Management School Creativity and Innovation class.

Learn how to increase your chances of creating the next 'big thing' and the challenges facing New Zealand commercialisation.

University of Waikato
Tuesday 10th May 2016
Room: LAW G02
9 – 11 am


Along the lines of the Under Armour "I Will What I Want" campaign, Chevrolet has done something pretty spectacular with the #FuelYourHustle campaign. In this video, Prince EA, American Rapper and Thought Leader had us at

"your life is a DIY project. Every minute we choose how we live it. How we give it".

A highly recommended view.

We couldn't help ourselves and put one of his quotes into a quick-reflect format because it so articulately run parallel to our vision and mission at SparkTank. Enjoy.