The Office of Ethnic Communities Nominations Service supported Pengbo Jiang's appointment to the Department of Internal Affairs' Lottery Significant Projects and Community Facilities Committee. We sat down with Pengbo to discuss his leadership and governance journey.
Tell us about yourself.
Tēnā koutou, my name is Pengbo Jiang. I am Chinese by birth and Kiwi by citizenship.
I spent the first 10 years of my life in China, before becoming the youngest international student in New Zealand at the time. I completed my schooling in Wellington and later graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce and Administration from Victoria University of Wellington.
I have worked in many different industries since graduating and am currently an Associate Director at the Bank of China (New Zealand) Limited. Two years ago, I completed a Master of Management from Massey University after four years part-time study, while working fulltime.
Over the last 16 years, have been an active volunteer and a passionate advocate for new migrants in the community. Roles have ranged from working sausage sizzles to raise a few hundred dollars, to serving on the boards of nationwide not-for-profit organisations with million-dollar fundraising campaigns. I was an international student buddy, am an accredited business mentor of Business Mentor New Zealand and a student mentor and guest lecturer for Victoria University.
A highlight was being included in last year’s Canadian Honours List when I received the Sovereign's Medal for Volunteers from the Governor General of Canada in recognition of my service to Canadian communities in New Zealand.
I am proud to have grown from an international student to a true New Zealander, who has successfully settled in the land of the long white cloud - our Aotearoa.
Congratulations on your appointment to the Lottery Significant Projects and Community Facilities Committee. What do you enjoy most about being a board member?
Making a difference, I love making a positive impact on people's lives. Mother Teresa said, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”
I hope my work as a board member in the public sector, together with my voluntary work in the community, can create a ripple effect from person to person, community to community, nation to nation and brighten as many lives as possible.
What advice would you give to someone interested in a governance career?
A board member must look after the interests of stakeholders. Becoming an effective board member and a trusted adviser does not happen overnight. As with anything, you must prove yourself.
My advice to anyone interested in a governance career is to focus on developing relevant skills and experience so you can offer actionable and on point advice to the organisation and people you are serving.
You also need to be realistic and true to yourself. If you act in the best interests of the people you are representing and build effective relationship with stakeholders, you will be a successful board member who plays a part in improving governance in the community.
Guiding principles that I would like to share include: be committed, be technically correct, be collaborative, be courageous, be inquisitive, be positive, be authentic, be commercial but ensure governance is not overridden, and most importantly, be professional and have integrity.
I appreciated the support that I received from the Office of Ethnic Communities’ Nomination Service and would recommend seeking their help if you are interested in governance on state sector boards.
Do you think ethnic diversity is important on a board, and why or why not?
New Zealand is increasingly multicultural and globalised. I believe boards in every sector and industry should reflect this. Diversity of perspective is vital to every organisation and community.
Public and private sectors must be able to adapt quickly to disruption by ensuring all possible implications are considered. I believe a diverse board is more likely to identify risks and opportunities for better outcomes.
However, board diversity should never be about a quota system or ticking boxes for reporting purposes. It should be about advancing organisations by bringing together diverse experience to navigate a dynamic environment.
Who's the person that has influenced you most?
There have been a lot of people that have had tremendous influence at different times in my life.
During my early years, my parents instilled in me the values of honesty, diligence, perseverance, courage, conscientiousness, integrity and hard work. When I was ten, my father decided to send me to study in New Zealand because he heard it was a beautiful country with an excellent education system. You can imagine how tough it was for a ten-
year-old to first arrive in a foreign country alone, without knowing the language or understanding the cultural differences.
I was fortunate that many people welcomed me with open arms. I have learned many things from New Zealand and its people. By embracing the unknown and celebrating difference, I grew from someone who tackled something new every day to the person I am now, with my own whanau and a child.
When I came here as a child, I never thought that I would become who I am today. I owe thanks to my mother and father for their foresight and the great values they instilled in me. I am also grateful to the people from all walks of life who made me the person I am - these include school teachers, sports coaches, friends, work colleagues, communities and everyone who offered me help, advice and guidance. Most of all, I am grateful to my wife for her guidance and support - she is the source of my strength.
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