EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ New Zealand 

Are you or do you know an unstoppable entrepreneur?


Nomination Process

There are five EY Entrepreneur Of The Year award categories that have been established to recognise New Zealand’s best entrepreneurs.

Products - Nominees in this category are retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers of products from all industries.

Services - These entrepreneurs are providers of professional services e.g. financial, engineering, architecture, real estate, property, recreation and leisure.

Technology & Emerging Industries - Nominees who run businesses within software, hardware, telecommunications, digital media, biotechnology or health sciences industries.

Young - Entrepreneurs 35 years or younger (as at 18 June 2021) across all industries are eligible for this category.

Master Entrepreneur - A category designed for leaders of well-established businesses that have made a significant commitment to entrepreneurship.

Criteria for eligibility

  • To be eligible for the programme, you must:
  • Be a company founder, owner or manager of a private or public company or organisation who is primarily responsible for the recent performance of the company or organisation, and an active member of senior management
  • Be a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident
  • Have a significant equity stake in the business
  • Have a company that has been in existence for at least two years at close of applications, Friday, 18 June 2021.

Judging Critera

The independent judging panel considers each entrepreneur finalist against the following criteria, developed and used globally in country Entrepreneur Of The Year programmes as well as EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year. The six criteria are a balanced scorecard.

  • Judging Criteria

    Entrepreneurial Spirit


    • Sets high standards and demonstrates a desire to be successful
    • Takes risks and overcomes significant obstacles
    • Demonstrates perseverance and learns from experience
    Value Creation



    • Creates value for stakeholders
    • Drives strong financial performance
    • Develops human capital
    • Drives strategies for long-term sustainable results
    Strategic Direction


    • Develops a vision with goals for future growth and expansion
    • Builds an effective team and strategic alliances
    • Measures and benchmarks progress against goals
    National and Global Impact


    • Increases market share
    • Enables international growth and reach
    • Expands into new markets


    • Pioneers new approaches or technologies
    • Develops products and services ahead of the market
    • Builds a culture of innovation and invests in research and development
    Purpose-Driven Leadership
    • Demonstrates personal values that earn respect from key stakeholders
    • Maintains the highest ethical and quality standards across the business
    • Commits the organisation to an inspiring purpose
    • Enables a more sustainable future for all

Meet the NZ Entrepreneur Of The Year 2021 Judges

Cecilia Robinson, Co-Founder, My Food Bag
EY Young Entrepreneur of the Year New Zealand 2013

Those who know Cecilia call her 'superwoman'. As founder and creator of not one (but two) of New Zealand's most successful startups - My Food Bag and Au Pair Link - Cecilia is one of NZ's most admired young female entrepreneurs. A serial entrepreneur with sass, Cecilia has won more awards than you can shake a stick at (Supreme Winner 2017 Women of Influence Awards, Next Magazine Businesswoman of the Year 2014, EY Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2013, HER Businesswoman of the Year 2012 to name a few).

Devoted mum to Thomas and Leila, Cecilia is passionate about helping women in business and solving the everyday problems of working mums and dads.

Ranjna Patel, Founder and Director, East Tamaki Healthcare and Nirvana Health Group
EY Master Entrepreneur of the Year New Zealand 2016

Ranjna set up the East Tamaki Healthcare Business with her husband Kanti in 1977. She has extensive involvement in charitable and community groups for which she received a QSM in 2009 and ONZM in 2017. Ranjna has also been a JP and Marriage celebrant since 1996. Nirvana Healthcare now has 40 clinics and serves nearly 200,000 registered patients. Ranjna has won a number of awards, including IBA Businesswoman of the Year 2011, the EEO Walk the Talk Award, the 2016 EY Entrepreneur of the Year Master Award and was Deloittes Visionary Leader 2016. She was also inducted into the Co of Women NZ Hall of Fame and, most recently, in 2017 Ranjna was the winner of the NEXT Woman of the Year - Business and Innovation Category.  

Sam Hazledine, Founder and Managing Director, MedRecruit
EY Young Entrepreneur of the Year New Zealand 2012

Sam is the Founder and Managing Director of Australasia’s largest medical recruitment company, MedRecruit. He has also founded the wealth management company for doctors MedCapital, and the wellbeing organisation MedWorld, and he co-founded the holistic talent management company, WeAreTenzing. As a doctor, Sam has created multiple organisations, MedRecruit, MedCapital, and MedWorld, to assist doctors to live exceptional lives, because he knows that when they are fulfilled they are better doctors.

Sam is passionate about lifting people’s sights so they can see what’s possible, and sharing the lessons he has learned to get anyone into that sweet spot, where success becomes inevitable.

Vaughan Fergusson, Founder and Chief Product Officer, Vend
EY Technology Entrepreneur of the Year New Zealand 2014

Vaughan is the founder of Vend, a New Zealand high-growth tech success story, and founder of OMGTech! a charitable initiative to help kids into careers with future technology. He is a sought after speaker on numerous topics from startups, culture, education and innovation. As Vice-chair of the NZ Hi-Tech Trust Vaughan is involved in the celebration of the NZ hi-tech industry through awards and education. Every year Vaughan does an impossible challenge, something to take him out of his comfort zone, like running 1,000km, learning to sing to get a paid gig in front of 100 people or cycling around the world in 80 days.

Vaughan is a self-described weirdo and has spoken many times on the importance of challenging the status quo, thinking differently and trusting your inner weirdo.

Jeremy Moon, Founder, Icebreaker
EY Young Entrepreneur of the Year New Zealand 2003

Jeremy Moon founded Icebreaker, a clothing brand, in 1995 to disrupt the outdoor industry with a sustainable, natural performance alternative to the synthetic apparel dominating the outdoor market. Icebreaker was recently sold to VF Corporation in a major transaction - the first “purpose led” acquisition by VF (owners of The North Face, Vans, Timberland). This transaction will unlock the potential of the brand globally, dramatically raise the impact of sustainable natural apparel across the VF suite of brands, and secure a long-term demand for New Zealand merino wool.

Icebreaker was the first in the world to create a merino active layering system and sparked a global revolution in the outdoor and sports industries. The brand boasts sales of around $300m, supplying to more than 4000 retail stores across 44 countries including 30+ own retail stores and e-commerce.

Moon is also Chairman of BetterByDesign; a non-profit group assisting 120 other New Zealand businesses increase export earnings through integrating design more successfully into their business, strategy, and products. He was also appointed member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to business by the NZ Government in 2008.

EY Contacts


Darren White
Program Director
Tel: +27 489 9102
Rebecca Seymour-East
Program Manager
Tel: +27 687 8977