HARD CASE | A unique chance to peek into our future

Six-or-so months back, Mike Toepfer, my business partner, returned from a conference raving about one of the presenters. “Absolutely fascinating,” he enthused. “Best I’ve ever seen!”

As lawyers, business people and in our various governance and community roles, Mike and I are incredibly fortunate to regularly attend events headlined by internationally-acclaimed speakers, traversing all manner of amazing topics. So, by the time he got to “mind-blowing information”, FOMO was definitely kicking in.

Good things, however, come to those who wait. I, myself, now have the chance to see this phenomenal presenter next month. And, guess what? So do you!

As it happened, Mike, who was attending the New Zealand Chambers of Commerce Conference in his capacity as Ignite Wanaka Chamber vice-chair, wasn’t the only one impressed by this speaker. So, the Chamber network decided to host him for a nationwide tour.

Tané Hunter is a futurist, and is fast gaining a reputation across the globe for his show-stopping presentations. One of the most recent audiences he wowed was Interpol. His bio makes for pretty impressive reading, too. So, all of us here at Aspiring Law are pretty stoked to be partnering, as sponsors, with Ignite Wanaka Chamber to bring his knowledge and unique foresight to our Upper Clutha community.

Cycling, sailing and science

Tané co-founded Future Crunch, a Melbourne-based think tank designed to foster intelligent, optimistic thinking about the future, and empower people to contribute to it. While Tané’s best known for his public speaking and consulting role with Future Crunch, he has a “day job”, too … working at the cutting edge of one of humanity’s greatest challenges: curing cancer.

That, however, is a rather different path than he was on 13-odd years ago. Having won a US national mountain biking title, Tané was well on the road to a professional cycling career, when a serious injury in 2006 put paid to that. His focus turned to his other passions: science, statistics and viticulture. (His mountain biking career’s demise did not spell the end of sport, by the way – away from his professional roles, he’s an avid sailor, competes in races around the world, and has sailed the Pacific solo.)

With a Masters in Bioinformatics, Tané went on to work at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital, diagnosing rare genetic diseases in children. He’s currently completing his PhD, using “big data” and machine learning to determine what is causing a particular cancer and identify ways to fight it with state-of-the-art clinical therapies.

Tané and his Future Crunch team, comprising technologists, scientists, artists, designers and entrepreneurs, believe that – contrary to many of the headlines – what lies ahead is, actually, pretty exciting, and there’s good reason to be “intelligently optimistic”.

Part of the reason Mike and I were so keen to help bring Tané’s The Future of Work to Wanaka is that, not only is this science communicator winning rave reviews wherever he goes, the message really is so important and resonates with us as business advisors. We all know with progress comes challenges. However, as individuals and organisations, we can gain so much by ensuring we also embrace the emerging opportunities new technologies and more flexible working models bring.

Practical, real-world tools

What we also loved about what Tané’s presentation covers is that it’s fascinating and practical, in equal measure. The takeaways will include greater knowledge and understanding of technological advances, plus practical steps that we can all start taking to not just survive, but thrive, in this world of rapid change. He’ll share real-world tools that set businesses on course to build workplaces that are prepared for automation, disruption and changing work patterns.

Artificial intelligence ... the gig economy ... big data ... blockchain ... driverless cars ... it can be a lot to keep up with. We’ve backed this event because we want as many Upper Clutha people as possible to hear Tané decode and demystify the terminology, what it means for us, and, rather than be daunted by it, how we can use advances to our advantage.

Being a bit off the beaten track, it’s not uncommon for Wanaka to be bypassed on the speakers’ circuit. If we’re keen to keep the thought leaders and world-class speakers coming, it’s really important, as a business community, that we get in behind these events. So, I just wanted to give the team at Ignite Wanaka Chamber of Commerce a shout out – chair Bridget Legnavsky, Mike, and the rest of the dedicated executive. Not to forget, of course, executive officer Naomi Lindsay, who’s spearheading the event management – no small feat, as anyone who’s organised this type of occasion will tell you.

There are 120 seats for Tané’s presentation. When the opportunity came up to sponsor this, Mike and I didn’t need to think twice. We couldn’t help but imagine the super-charged, positive impact that 120 “intelligently optimistic” Upper Clutha folk, armed with the latest global understanding and tools, could have – not just on their individual organisations, but on our community as a whole. Hope to have you join us.

Janice Hughes is a Director of Aspiring Law. If you have questions or feedback about this article, please contact Janice on 03 443 0900, or email janice@aspiringlaw.co.nz.


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