A passionate business champion, with more than 20 years’ experience working in business media both in NZ and Australia, Andrew is a popular broadcaster and a sought after commentator and speaker.

A regular presenter on the National Business Review’s digital platform NBR Radio, and the host of its flagship weekend podcast Sunday Business, Andrew admits to being a self-confessed ‘news junkie’ and a close follower of global business trends, particularly technology, innovation and entrepreneurship.

In addition to his media commitments, he has worked pro-bono for the last four years with a number of low decile Auckland schools establishing programmes to improve student outcomes and provide pathways into technology careers including the establishment of Coding Clubs, providing mentoring to high performing students and, for the second time, leading a group of students on an all-expenses paid trip to Silicon Valley.

Returning to the University of Auckland Business School in 2013, Andrew recently competed his Master’s in Business Commercialisation & Entrepreneurship (MCE)
Imagine a trip where a group of students, mainly from low decile schools, were given an opportunity to travel to the home of global technology – Silicon Valley – and experience a week that would change their lives forever.

But not only change their lives, but the lives of their families and their communities as well.

That was the vision I had when I created the Silicon Valley Experience in 2014.

When I saw the impact the trip had on the students who went it made me realise that lives really could be changed for the better in just one week.

Kids attending low decile schools often miss out on three key traits:
  1. aspiration
  2. inspiration
  3. motivation
Provide the first two and the third will take care of itself.

How did the trip impact these students? Read Lynna’s story below.

Finally, how have the students shared their story with others? By visiting their local schools and talking to students about what they experienced during their week in Silicon Valley they are inspiring other kids to follow their lead.

They’ve also become tech ambassadors and champions of innovation driven to become part of this sector that offers huge potential for them but often lacks the pathway for talented kids from low decile schools to make it through.

Silicon Valley Experience 2016 will give eight students, 50% of them Maori / Pacifica, from Northland, West Auckland, Glen Innes and South Auckland the opportunity to change their lives forever and become tech ambassadors of the future.

Trips like this one are simply not possible without the generous financial support of sponsors. I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank the businesses and organisations detailed on our sponsors page for supporting the vision of this trip and investing in the lives and futures of the young men who will experience this life changing opportunity.

Thank you for supporting this vision.

Andrew Patterson
Organiser of The Silicon Valley Experience Trip

Lynna’s story

My name is Lynna Son. In 2014 I was a year 12 student from Manurewa High School and I was very fortunate to be one of the twelve students selected to visit Silicon Valley as part of the Business, Innovation and Technology Experience 2014.

I want to share with you my experience of a trip that has completely and utterly changed my life.

Without doubt, it was the most memorable five days of my entire life. I have to admit, I am completely astounded about what I was able to learn in such a short time from each of the companies we visited.

Silicon Valley is no longer just 'A world away'. As a result of this trip, it’s now very real to me. Several times during the visit I had to pinch myself. Here we were actually inside the grounds and campuses of the world’s biggest and most renowned companies. Even now, it still doesn't seem real that I got to experience what I did. I still find it almost overwhelming – but in a good way!

Thanks to this trip, I now have a new, fresh perspective on the world of business and technology. I now aim to become an entrepreneur pursuing my dreams in the technology field to hopefully make the big time in Silicon Valley along with the other New Zealanders who have made it over there and maybe even some of my peers who accompanied me on this trip as well.

This trip has now given me a clear path to follow. Before the trip, I was still leaning from one path to another. Now, I am determined to be a product designer or a web designer. After visiting the internationally renowned product design firm IDEO, I realised that product design is the path I want to take. I aim to one day secure a career at IDEO, then use that experience to become the CEO of my own product design company here in NZ. This trip has motivated me to work even harder than I thought possible.

Every single company I visited was indescribable. However, for me, the biggest highlights were visiting the Kiwi Landing Pad, Xero and Google. Seeing New Zealanders, just like myself, collaborating with each other at KLP and Xero, having such a clear vision and achieving the goals they had set for themselves was truly inspirational. The culture among these places made me really want to work there. In fact, being at KLP and Xero made me feel like I had never left New Zealand! The kiwi “can do” culture hummed through the office and I loved it.

I also loved IDEO and Google. IDEO related to me the most because it is a very successful design firm that has been responsible for a number of amazing products including the very first Apple computer mouse as well as the stand-up toothpaste tube. They also worked with Air New Zealand to design the lie flat bed in economy class. As an aspiring designer, it was an incredible place to visit. Google was amazing simply because it was Google! The way they communicated and had such a clear vision about their future was eye opening.

The common factor all of these companies were trying to get across to us was to never be afraid of failing. That failing is just a sign of risk taking. They told us that whenever we fail, we have to fail fast, pick ourselves up then move onto the next big thing.

All these companies gave me a taste of what success really looks like. Visiting Stanford was truly a surreal experience and it impacted me on a whole new level. Meeting one of the MBA candidates there and discovering he was an ex-student from Hillpark Primary in South Auckland which was the very same primary school that I attended, and the fact he later went on to become Head Boy at Manurewa High was indescribable. To know that he was accepted into one of the most prestigious universities in the world where only 4% of applicants get in was inspirational. I hope one day to be able to follow in his footsteps.

From this trip, and thanks to Linked In, I have created many networks that can help me achieve my future career goals as well as helping me make it back to San Francisco one day.

Once again, I'd just like to say thank you from the bottom of my heart to Andrew Patterson who made this trip possible and to my sponsor ATEED for giving me the opportunity that has turned my life around. It has changed my life in ways you cannot imagine.

Now I have a plan for my future that previously I never imagined was possible.