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Alumni News

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Alumni news


Shaping the future together: this year's Annual Appeal is raising funds to support seven projects that help make a difference to families and communities throughout New Zealand. To find out more – and to donate – please go to the Annual Appeal web page.

Working for Otago: making connections in the US

The Alumni of the University of Otago in America (AUOA) is committed to supporting and promoting the University, its students, graduates and former students through initiatives that benefit Otago and grow alumni networks in the US.

The group recently provided more than NZ$90,000 for programmes at Otago, including the annual AUOA Student Exchange, the Master of International Studies and the Oceans of Potential programmes. It has previously supported the Otago Medical School’s Medical Artefacts Digital Archive project, the Charles Farthing Memorial Scholarships Endowment, the Bob Carter Memorial Fieldwork project, and the digitisation of the Department of Botany’s Herbarium collection.

Neil Matheson thumbnailNeil Matheson

President, (DipPE, 1979)

With a background in the pharmaceutical industry, Neil relocated to the US in 1989. He founded AXIS Healthcare Communications in 1999 – which he sold in 2007 – and was global CEO of Huntsworth Health until July 2017. He has worked with NZ Trade and Industry assisting New Zealand health-care technology companies in the US market. Neil was a founding member of the Board that established AUOA in 2008.

Annmarie Oien thumbnailDr AnnMarie Oien

Vice-President, (PhD, 1996)

In 1996 AnnMarie became the second woman to graduate from Otago with a PhD in Physics. In 1997 she joined Lockheed Martin Corporation as a research scientist and, after 20 years, joined Harris Corporation as a senior systems engineer. She has received numerous awards for her work, leading programmes on process improvement and problem solving.

Jonathon Wong thumbnailJonathon Wong

Secretary, (BCom (Hons) 2005)

Jono is the head of Strategy and Operations for Global Product Partnerships at Google, driving the development and execution of business strategy, product partnerships and operational initiatives. He previously worked at Deloitte Consulting’s strategy and operations practice in Wellington, Washington DC, New York and San Francisco.

John Crowe thumbnailJohn Crowe

Treasurer, (BCom (Hons), 1992, LLB 1993)

John spent 17 years as a finance executive at JP Morgan in London and New York. He currently leads the finance team for the investment bank’s sales organisations. He is a member of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand and is a barrister and solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand.

Geoff Nichol thumbnailDr Geoff Nichol

(BMedSc, MB ChB, 1979)

Geoff is a fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and has had a distinguished career in clinical therapeutic development and senior management for pharmaceutical companies. He is currently Chief Medical Officer at BioMarin Pharmaceuticals in San Francisco. He was a founding AUOA member and has served as secretary, vice-president and president.

Helen Heslop thumbnailDr Helen Heslop

(MB ChB, 1980, MD, 1990, DSc (Hons) 2013)

Helen is Professor of Medicine and Paediatrics and Dan L. Duncan Chair at Baylor College of Medicine and associate director for clinical research at the Dan L. Duncan Cancer Center. She directs the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston Methodist Hospital and Texas Children’s Hospital. She is also the president of the American Society for Gene and Cell Therapy.

Nigel Bain thumbnailNigel Bain

Regional Associate Member Liaison, (BSc (Hons) 1976)

Nigel majored in Mineral Technology and worked worldwide for mining companies involved in industrial minerals or precious metal extraction. He is now executive director of Barrick Gold USA. He has helped develop new initiatives to improve safety, productivity and the working culture of underground soft-rock excavation. Nigel supports a number of community outreach and education initiatives in Nevada.

Catherine Bollard thumbnailCatherine Bollard

(MB ChB, 1991, MD, 2005)

Catherine is chief of the Division of Allergy and Immunology and director Program for Cell Enhancement and Technologies for Immunotherapy, Center for Cancer and Immunology Research at the Children’s National Medical Center; and Professor of Paediatrics and of Microbiology, Immunology and Tropical Medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

Jacinta Calverley thumbnailJacinta Calverley

(BA, 1980, PgDipArts, 1981)

With a career in business and corporate HR and organisation development, Jacinta has been a trustee of the Fletcher Challenge Trust; chair of the NZ Employment Equity Trust; director of Enterprise New Zealand; chief judge of the NZ Young Enterprise Awards; and director of Netball New Zealand. She moved to the US in 2000 and was the International Netball Federation’s mediator for the US national representation issue 2008 to 2010.

Cathy Shyer thumbnailCatherine Shyer

(BSc, 1976)

After graduating, Catherine held management positions at AC Nielsen, including a two-year international assignment in Toronto, Canada. She returned to New Zealand in 1990 and was appointed Managing Director of AC Nielsen New Zealand. She relocated to the US in 1993 and is now a commissioner on the Salisbury, Connecticut Planning and Zoning Commission.

Chris White thumbnailChris White

(BCom, 1996)

Chris is the founder of Greenstone Value Opportunity Fund, a US-based hedge fund. As well as sitting on the AUOA board, Chris has founded an internship programme with Otago to assist graduates in finding internships with US funds and leading financial institutions. He is also on the board of the American New Zealand Association.

Andrew Hamer thumbnailDr Andrew Hamer

(MB ChB, 1985)

Andrew is medical director of Global Development at Amgen Inc. He had a 20-year career as a cardiologist and clinical researcher, and chaired the Cardiac Society, the National Cardiac Surgery Network and New Zealand Cardiac Network.

Honorary advisory board members

Murray Brennan thumbnailSir Murray F. Brennan

GNZM, (BSc, 1962, MB ChB, 1964)

During a distinguished career in medicine Sir Murray has held prestigious positions worldwide, including Chairman of Surgery at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. He was AUOA president from 2008 until 2013.

Jennifer Schreiber thumbnailJennifer (Jenny) Schreiber

(Diploma of Home Science, 1963)

Jenny has lived in the United States for more than 50 years and has been the principal in her interior design firm since 1978. Jenny was involved in establishing the AUOA and was its secretary 2008-2012.

William Lindqvist thumbnailWilliam (Bill) Lindqvist

(Bachelor of Engineering, 1964)

Bill’s 45-year mining career involved exploration for gold and base metals for companies in “about 49 countries”. He was a founding member of the board that established the AUOA as a legal charitable entity in 2008 and served as vice-president until 2012.

Andrew King thumbnailAndrew King

(MB ChB, 1971)

Andrew is on the faculty of the Louisiana State University Medical Centre and heads the spine unit at New Orleans Children's Hospital. He was a founding 2008 AUOA member and served on its board until November 2016.

To find out more about the AUOA and its activities please visit its website

Reunions and events

London, 10 May 2017

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Frankfurt, 13 May 2017

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Auckland, 13 July 2017

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Suva, 20 July 2017

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For information about upcoming alumni reunions and events

For information about alumni benefits and services