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Our inaugural Forum on Digital Workplaces will look at ways in which technological innovations are impacting our workplaces and how these might evolve in the future.  We’ll discuss the implications of these changes for people managers, human resource professionals, and other functional specialists. 

We are excited to present a thoughtfully curated program that delves into crucial aspects encompassing the well-being of individuals, the significance of the environment, and the proper handling of data. Our focus will extend to the ethical considerations surrounding technology usage, the essential skills required for future workplaces, and the disruptive forces to prepare for. We have assembled an impressive lineup of speakers who will enlighten, inspire and inform you throughout the event:           

Aotea Centre, Hunua Rooms

Thursday 23 November, 8.30am – 6pm


8.30am            Registration

9.00am            Welcome | Te Radar, Master of Ceremonies

9.10am            Opening keynote | How to help shape the workplace of the future

 Dr Michelle Dickinson, Nanotechnologist and Materials Engineer

Technology affects all aspects of our lives with many human centred roles changing, and in some cases, even replaced by technology. With AI predicted to be the next big technology adoption in the workplace, questions arise as to what role it could play and who is controlling it’s decisions. For some it might feel like technology is happening to us, but this talk will showcase findings from Dr Michelle Dickinson’s recent book on the key skills that we can all work on to help us to prepare for the future of work.

Key Takeaways:

  • NZ innovators who learned to fly – examples of amazing local innovators who created world-changing technologies and how they did it.  Stories of totally normal people who saw a problem that they couldn’t ignore and how they worked out a way to fix it.  Sharing a simple innovation toolkit that everyone can follow to help push ideas forwards.
  • Where does technology and innovation fit in the workplace?  Who is in charge of creating technology and how can we make sure that the ethics programmed within align with those of the businesses using it.  
  • Importance of diversity – show how all top innovations have come from brainstorming with people who were different to them – showcasing how we naturally like to work with people who are like us, but true strength comes from figuring out how to work with people who are different.
  • How goal-setting and KPI’s fit into innovation and what should and shouldn’t be measured to help with growth and success.


9.50am           Surviving the digital age: Can we avoid deskilling and tech-slavery?

Dr Angela Liew, Senior Lecturer in Accounting and Finance | University of Auckland Business School

Join Angela for an enlightening presentation exploring the profound changes technology brings. We'll begin by examining the impact of our tech-centric lives on human skills and cognition. 

Angela will delve into how the workforce has evolved over the past decade, discussing both job displacement and creation. 

Moving forward, we'll uncover the challenges and forward-thinking secrets of effectively managing HR processes in today’s digital world. 

Finally, Angela will explore the strategic use of technology for business survival and thriving, including intriguing insights from Chinese rural entrepreneurs.

This concise yet comprehensive presentation promises to leave you with fresh insights and actionable strategies for thriving in an ever-changing world. 

Key takeaways will include:

  • The illusion of retaining human skills: We often believe we can hold onto our skills, but the truth is, we can unwittingly become deskilled. By the time we notice, it might be too late, and technology could replace us. It's vital to acknowledge tech's impact on our abilities and adapt continuously to stay relevant.
  • Impact across all sectors: Every industry faces tech disruption, even hands-on ones like fishing. Recognizing this wide-reaching impact is essential for individuals and organizations to prepare and find new opportunities.
  • Embracing strategic and visionary thinking: Instead of chasing tech trends, cultivate a strategic and forward-thinking mindset. By anticipating future trends and using technology strategically for value creation, you can lead innovation and stay competitive in a changing landscape.


10.30am          Morning Tea

11.00am          How do we deal with the impact of technology on our teams


  • Madeline Newman, Executive Director at AI Forum – Moderator
  • Michael Witbrock, Professor at Waipapa Taumata Rau (The University of Auckland; AI Forum Executive Council; Strong AI Lab; AI4Good Foundation)
  • Christopher Mende, Head of Technology, Google Cloud New Zealand
  • Dr Geri Harris, Senior Lecturer, award-winning researcher & technology futurist, Manukau Institute of Technology

In this session, our panel will cover the effects of technology on communication and collaboration within teams.  We’ll touch on how these technologies can support hybrid working and consider current trends with remote working.

Our panellists will also delve into the opportunities in digital education and how these can be realised in the workplace. They will discuss how we can create a more agile, resilient and innovative workforce through increasing access to education and training

Finally, our panel will discuss misinformation and disinformation and the risks within the workplace when many people have the potential to become a content creator.


11.40am         The use of artificial intelligence in decision-making and it’s ethical implications AND The impact of technology on employee privacy and data security.


  • Andrew Eberhard - Associate Dean, Professional Programmes and Associate Dean, Technology​​​​​​​ (The University of Auckland) Moderator
  • Isuru Fernando - Digital Innovation Lead for Azure (Microsoft NZ) Panellist
  • Gehan Gunasekara – Associate Professor and Deputy HoD, Commercial Law Department (The University of Auckland) Panellist
  • Michael Moyes – Partner, Duncan Cotterill Panellist
  • Dr Angela Liew, Senior Lecturer in Accounting and Finance | University of Auckland Business School  Panellist

The panel discussion will delve into two critical aspects of the evolving technological landscape: the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in decision-making and its ethical implications, as well as the profound impact of technology on employee privacy and data security. The panel will tackle the ethical dilemmas associated with delegating important decisions to machines and the implications for human agency and accountability. They will examine the delicate balance between maintaining productivity and safeguarding employee privacy rights. 

Session learnings: 

By attending this panel discussion, you will gain valuable insights into the ethical dimensions of AI-driven decision-making and the crucial importance of protecting employee privacy and data security in the digital age. Join us as we navigate the complex landscape of technology, ethics, and the future of work, and equip yourself with the tools and understanding to make informed decisions at your workplace.


12.20pm         Lunch

1.00pm        Navigating the Generative AI Revolution: One Year After ChatGPT's Debut

Griere Cox (she/her/ia)Partner | PwC

It is hard to believe ChatGPT was released one year ago (30 November, 2022). Since then, the conversation about the impact of AI on all of our lives has accelerated. As shown in PwC's recent Hopes and Fears Survey, New Zealand employees are still very uncertain about the likely impact of AI on their jobs. 

Generative AI is expected to have a far broader impact on the labour market than other forms of AI we have seen to date, and will require organisations to consider how they may employ AI and how they need to adapt their workforce strategy, policies and processes, and learning and development approach. At the same time it is going to change how employees build their skills within the world of work, and drive more career transitions. 

In this presentation, Griere will discuss some of the expected changes, how employees are feeling and some first steps for employers to consider.  


1.40pm            Unlocking Digital Inclusion: A Path to Thriving Workplaces

Sarah Balfour, Director | UpSkills

Join us for a dynamic presentation by Sarah, as she navigates the ever-evolving landscape of digital inclusion and equity in New Zealand. Gain crucial insights into the current state of affairs and discover the essential digital skills that are the lifeblood of thriving workplaces.

In this session, Sarah will explore the connection between digital skills, inclusion, and productivity in the New Zealand context. She will uncover the risks associated with a digital divide at the workplace and shed light on how these risks can impact an organisation's success.

Moreover, Sarah will delve into the concept of the workplace as a hub of digital equity, unveiling strategies and approaches to achieve this vision. 

By attending Sarah's presentation, you will not only gain a deeper understanding of the path forward but also recognize why digital inclusion and equity matter in today's world. Challenge assumptions, embrace beliefs, and explore strategies like essential skills frameworks and co-design approaches to pave the way for a more inclusive and equitable digital future.


2.20pm            Thriving in the Digital Age: PwC's PX Journey

Erin Venter, CPO | PWC

In today's fast-paced digital age, the key to a thriving workforce lies in embracing innovation and championing employee engagement and well-being.

PwC is ahead of the curve and setting a benchmark in its commitment and investment into the experience and engagement of its people.

Join us for an exclusive peek behind the curtains as Erin, the driving force of employee engagement and wellbeing at PwC, takes centre stage to share the secrets behind their remarkable PX journey.

Designed to increase both employee engagement and well-being, PwC has introduced a suite of digital tools, resources, and initiatives available for their people to use.  Erin will share information about each, as well as the impact and results the organisation has seen as a result of its commitment to reinventing the People Experience.

This is not a cookie-cutter approach, and what an organisation needs to improve in its PX armoury will be different, but if HR leaders can walk away with some ideas or even energy to make some change in their workplace, our nation's workforce will be ahead of the curve and future fit.


3.00pm            Afternoon tea

3.30pm           The Future Perfect Employee


  • Facilitator Te Radar
  • Dr Allanah Johnston, Director | Future Calibrate    
  • Aman Dhaliwal, National Manager Talent and Culture Development | NZ Automobile Association
  • Susan Lowe, Chief People Officer | Alpine Energy 

Join us for an engaging discussion that dives deep into the concept of the "Perfect Future Employee." Our panellists will begin by unpacking this notion—exploring who defines perfection in an employee.   We'll challenge the notion of what "the future" truly means—is it 5 years, a decade, or beyond? Moreover, we'll question if the term "employee" is still relevant in our evolving work landscape.

Our panellists will navigate the current landscape, examining organisational shifts and the skills essential for thriving in the evolving work environment. We'll delve into the intricate balance between employer needs and employee expectations, a challenge that leaders and HR professionals must navigate.

Zooming out, we'll explore broader societal needs, investigating the skills required for driving impactful change in organisations and communities. We'll also address the role of education in equipping our workforce for the digital age.

By attending this session, we aim to equip you with practical steps to future-proof your workforce sustainably, fostering resilience for both employees and organisations. Don't miss this opportunity to shape the future of work.


4.10pm            What the future holds in terms of technology evolution and what might be the next big disruptors.

Melissa Clark-Reynolds – Futurist and Professional Director

Melissa will talk about AI in the context of the digital divide and also what it means for leadership and recruitment now.  She will also talk about the global trends affecting working from home, and the Gig economy - and what that means for the design of a "remote first" operating model. 

Melissa will explore the emergence of new governance needs for the use of emergent technologies in the workplace. 

Overall, she believes this is People & Culture's Big Moment - L & D, OD and Leadership Development have never mattered more.

4.50pm            Summary

5.00pm            Networking Hour - drinks and nibbles 

5.45pm            Event End