David Gray has been appointed CEO for TupuToa – Māori & Pasifika Corporate Pathways Progamme, which is set to launch this September. Catalysed by Global Women, TupuToa aims to develop a new generation of Māori and Pasifika business leaders who are business-savvy, entrepreneurial, creative, innovative and globally confident – with capablities across a core range of areas including strategy, finance, people, technology, operations, marketing and communications – and who are also thoroughly grounded in their respective cultural settings.
TupuToa will provide sustained support to enable Māori and Pasifika tertiary students and early career graduates to fulfill their career aspirations to become successful business and community leaders, and will also assist the programme’s corporate partners to identify, develop and retain high potential Māori and Pasifika graduates.
Along with a successful corporate career, David Gray has been involved in Māori and youth development for the past 20 years, with previous roles including CEO of YMCA New Zealand and Executive Director of Te Pūtea Whakatupu Trust.
A unique opportunity to change the face of business in New Zealand
Understanding the challenges facing young Māori and Pasifika students aspiring to develop a career in business, David says he was profoundly drawn to TupuToa’s model for creating pathways for Māori and Pasifika young people into the corporate sector, seeing it as a unique opportunity to change the face of business in New Zealand.
“I’ve immersed myself in Māori development for many years now in the belief that diversity and inclusion enrich not just the organisations we work in but our nation as a whole,” he says. “I think we still have some way to go to achieve acceptable levels of diversity and inclusion, but I’ve been trying to do my bit to make it happen.”
David states TupuToa will provide a range of wrap-around services to ensure young Māori and Pasifika leaders are well prepared to enter the corporate world, and to help them find their feet in that world.
“We’ll work with corporates to ensure they have an understanding of the cultural implications of employing young Māori and Pasifika leaders, and we’ll train mentors within corporates to equip them for the job of helping these young leaders.”
TupuToa, he says, will also ensure the whānau of the young leaders are engaged in the process, and will work to facilitate relationships between the families and corporates.
The corporate world often appears daunting to many young Māori and Pasifika – we want to change this
TupuToa aspires for this new generation of young Māori and Pasifika to not only succeed in business, but to also be comfortable with who they are from a cultural perspective.
“We want these young people to know they can be strong and secure in who they are, and at the same time be successful in the corporate world,” says David. “And, truth be told, we’d like them to eventually rattle some cages, to have a deep and lasting impact on the corporate world, to influence the values of that world, to challenge what they find there, and to then improve it.”
He also believes it’s crucial for young Māori or Pasifika students making career choices at Year 11 to be able to look at the corporate sector and see themselves reflected in the leadership of that sector, and be inspired to join them.
We’re a Pacific nation and also a trading nation – so we need to ensure those who lead our businesses reflect our society
David firmly believes diversity and inclusion will enrich not just the organisations we work in, but our nation as a whole.
“As a nation, we have a multicultural vibrancy matched by few other nations, and we have the opportunity to translate this into unique products and services for the world,” he says.
And, like many others, he also believes a more diverse organisation is a more creative one, and is more likely to find new and innovative ways of doing things.
“Just being around people who are different from us makes us more creative, more diligent and more hardworking, according to the research,” he says. “And what organisation doesn’t want that for its staff?”
Making New Zealand a better place
David passionately believes New Zealand will be a better place when the corporate sector reflects the makeup of our society, and when every young person – whether Māori, Pasifika, or another ethnicity, regardless of the circumstances into which they are born – believes they can aspire to be the next CEO of Air New Zealand or Fletcher Building.
He has big plans for TupuToa changing the face of business in New Zealand so that it truly reflects the diverse nation that we are.
“Within five years, we’d like to be providing support to about 300 interns per annum, with another 300 emerging leaders in companies throughout New Zealand,” he says. “And within ten years, we’d like to have changed the way New Zealand businesses think about talent and diversity, based on the success of our programmes and the research underpinning our work.”