Soda Inc had over 70 applicants for the two governance roles announced late last year, Board Chairperson and Board Independent Director.

Now, Soda is proud to announce both positions have been filled.

Kim Hill and Dr Andrew West have both been given the role of Board Independent Directors and Dr West has also taken on the role of Chairperson.

Founder and Director of Stratigi, Kim Hill is a top level business strategist, coach and consultant who is widely sought after throughout New Zealand for her expertise and skills in all areas of running businesses.

Dr West is a General Partner at Matū, a pre-seed/seed capital fund that invests through a hands-on, managed approach. Along with fellow GPs and partner investors, Dr West is growing Matū into a significant fund that supports paradigm-changing science for the benefit of all species on the planet, not just the human species.

Soda Inc. is a not-for-profit start-up support organisation based in the Waikato that works with entrepreneurs across New Zealand.

Soda has been delivering start-up support services for the past nine years and is in a unique position to build on a proven start-up support framework, and have greater impact that will raise the “entrepreneurial IQ” of New Zealand.

Soda Board Member Rob Heebink was part of the interview process and said the appointments of Kim and Andrew would complement the skills and experience of the Soda Board and fill the skill gaps that were identified during a Board skills assessment conducted last year.

Andrew West said it was a privilege to be appointed as an independent director and also as Chairperson of the Board of Soda.

“I thank the Board and management of the Waikato’s exceptional Institute of Technology, Wintec, for their confidence in me.

“Personally, I am highly motivated to help drive the New Zealand economy away from commoditised services and products, and towards one made up of businesses founded and led by entrepreneurs fuelled by creativity, be that in the arts or the sciences and be that with exceptional services or unique products.

“I think that the Waikato has the best private sector of anywhere in New Zealand and Soda plays an important role in helping galvanise that private sector, backed up by a supply of excellent graduates from Wintec educated to make things happen in the real world of business.

“I am excited to be able to work with such a talented and energised management team and Board of Directors at Soda and I relish the opportunity to contribute my bit,” Dr West said.

Kim said when the role came up she thought it was an absolute natural fit for her.

“It’s an area that I am passionate to make a difference in. I am passionate about start-ups and about contributing to developing entrepreneurial intelligence in Aotearoa,” she said.

With a passion to see Māori succeed Kim also hopes to bring that to the forefront.

“I’m driven by the ideas of Māori excellence and creating a space where our capability meets potential. I want to add impact to the strengthening our ecosystem, and continue to encourage collaboration so that we can see the outcomes through the growth of our entrepreneurs and SME’s in Aotearoa.

“I’m super excited and ready to get started and contributing,” she said.

Soda’s outgoing Chair Graham Gaylard said working with Soda had been a rewarding governance opportunity as the organisation was truly focused on helping create a positive impact, not only for the growth of the start-up, but also personal growth for the entrepreneurs driving the business.

“The benefits of this support transpire on so many levels, from personal growth through to greater economic outcomes.”

Soda’s CE Erin Wansbrough said she was looking forward to working with Andrew and Kim.

“They are both strong business minds and have vast experiences that can help our Board in different ways. We are excited to see what they bring going forward,” she said.

Since 2009 Soda has worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs through a range of events and programmes designed to educate founders, accelerate business creation and growth of early stage ventures. The range of businesses they’ve worked with is diverse, from all industries including Manufacturing & Design, ICT, Food & Beverage, Biotech, Agritech and Medical Devices.