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Head for business, heart of gold

09:00 AEST Fri Feb 3 2012
Paul Matthews

A MSN NZ promotion for the University of Auckland

It can be hard to find your niche if you’re a man with a head for business and a heart of gold.

But New Zealand Computer Society (NZCS) chief executive Paul Matthews is in the right place. He’s working to uphold strong ethics in the ICT industry, and studying towards a University of Auckland MBA.

The founder of IT outsource company ProSouth, was involved with NZCS governance when he was asked to spend six weeks in the capital after the previous CEO left.

NZCS was a "reasonably successful" organisation, but Matthew says, with a 50-year history, it hadn’t kept up with the times.

"And the only constant in IT is change."

Membership was diving. Matthews and team stepped in.

And when six weeks turned into months, he soon found himself permanently at the business helm of NZCS, his industry’s independent and not-for-profit voice.

Matthews puts a face to the voice, meets with government agencies, ensures education is relevant and makes lots of noise about issues regarding ethics.

A recent blog post by Matthews on New Zealand’s solid stance against “unsustainable” software patents was tweeted, re-tweeted and shared over a million times in a few days. He’s a guy who is required to have an opinion, backs his word, and is passionate about New Zealand’s potential to become a global force within IT.

"Internationalisation" is a concept he will explore more during his MBA study, which began in January. But he’s also looking to cement his business knowledge – mostly gained on-the-job – “and generally prepare for the next level of my career."

"I’m really excited, ready to get going," he says.

Matthews expects the MBA to be hard work, for it to be "challenging and to have my thinking challenged, as well."

The MBA was something he had been considering for a while, but it was Matthews’ chartered-accountant Mum who gave him the final ping to enroll.

It was a well-researched choice to apply for the University of Auckland and commit to commuting from Wellington for classes every second weekend.

"If you’re going to put in that much effort and spend that much money, you might as well do the best."

With two children aged under-five, Matthews says he couldn’t attempt it without strong family support. But there was also an ethical undercurrent to his reasons for enrolling.

"The decision for doing the MBA was just as much for the benefit of the organisation as it was for me personally, in terms of my professional career and maturity."

“To start an MBA, you’ve got to be in the right place, but you’ve got to put in work to get ahead.” "I expect to go in (to the MBA) with my perspectives of the world and expand on that dramatically." Matthews’ worldly-view of things includes a strong one that New Zealand can be a landing pad for IT professionals from anywhere.

"When you talk about ‘international’, that doesn’t have to mean somebody heading off to the USA, that work can be done from New Zealand," he says.

"We wouldn’t have to do a heck of a lot to make New Zealand the next Silicon Valley – the place where you come to get ahead."

The University of Auckland Master of Business Administration (MBA) has intakes in January each year, and welcomes applications from business leaders. Find out more at www.gse.auckland.ac.nz