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CREATE * AI | Workshops

In June and July we'll host 4 half day workshops to enable more business leaders to start creating practical AI powered applications.

Scroll down for details.

Create * AI


These workshops are designed for Mid to Senior Level Managers, Marketers, Product Developers, Innovation Teams, Communications and Brand Teams - managing datasets, customer experiences, business intelligence and decision making capability. And perfect for technical and non-technical people to attend together.


AUT is proud to present CREATE * AI with This series of four workshops will inform and support business leaders learning how to start utilising Artificial Intelligence to increase productivity and customer experience. 

AUT’s ‘AI Initiative’ brings together all the AI work conducted at AUT, a variety of courses related to AI, industry and community collaborations, and partnerships with international universities.

AUT academics are involved in a variety of AI-related research projects including: autonomous vehicles, brain-inspired AI, smart shopping, computational intelligence for sports science, and forensic intelligence.

There are numerous institutes and groups at AUT focused on this work including: Centre for AI Research, Centre for Robotics and Vision, Data Science Research Group, and the Knowledge Engineering and Discovery Research Institute.

The CREATE * AI Workshops are proudly produced by AI New Zealand in association with AUT and 

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Friday July 27th - Capability & Strategy

Once you have identified a business problem or a new experience to create you'll need to develop capability through internal collaborations or external partnerships. We'll help you devise a plan.

  • How do we identify the right projects to invest in first to drive AI capability?
  • What state do our datasets need to be in?
  • What’s the best way to engage senior leadership in building a business case?
  • At whats stage do we need to be before engaging a professional services or engineering partner?
  • What are the skill sets, team members we need to engage internally to become AI ready?

Presented by:

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George Putnam - Chief of Product and Platform Management

Topic: The Product Development approach and how it relates to the development of AI technology.


Workshop: PwC New Zealand with Auckland Council

Presenters Matthew Whitaker + Ashnee Mavronicolas are going to take you on a journey through outcome-led technology strategy to capability to execution and the decision points in between. 

In this workshop you’ll have the chance to wear the hat of senior decision makers, set a strategy and then be challenged to identify capability and execute with the odd ‘grenade’ in there for you – to keep things interesting … and real. 

Speaking of real, joining them will be Scott Levens, Continuous Improvement Manager at Auckland Council to share with you the journey Auckland Council has been on in the intelligent automation space. 

Matthew Whitaker
Matthew Whitaker is the Intelligent Automation Leader for PwC New Zealand. Originally from London, he has lived and worked all over the world delivering digital transformation programmes with a focus on productivity and delivering outcomes and benefits for his customers. His mantra is that transformation requires a willingness to change and if you aren't yet familiar with the concept of creative destruction then you soon will be. 

Ashnee Mavronicolas
Ashnee is an Associate Director at PwC New Zealand. As a management consultant in PwC South Africa and New Zealand, she worked with clients ranging from Technology, Insurance, Banking, FMCG, and Government. She specialises in productivity improvement through intelligent automation (RPA) and has a willingness to keep learning and educating teams on new ways of working to keep up with the speed and pace of delivery. 

Scott Levens
Scott Levens is the Continuous Improvement Manager within Financial Transactions at Auckland Council. Scott arrived in New Zealand from Australia in June 2016 to take up a role at Auckland Council as the Procurement Capability Lead, prior to this he had spent most of the previous 8 years working as a consultant across Procurement and Supply Chain with a strong background in technology supporting these activities. His philosophy on teams is similar to Moneyball; every one brings something to the table that creates a dynamic environment that achieves success and support for other teams members in challenging times.


Friday July 13th - Customer Experience

We'll inspire you to reimagine how you create experiences for internal and external customers through design-thinking, understanding your data sets and connected technologies like AI, IoT etc.

  • How does our customer experience inspire company wide transformation?
  • How should I approach re-thinking our customer experience design process?
  • How can our data sets inspire to change or inform us to make the right decisions to improve customer experiences?

Presented by:


Jodie Sangster - CMO Liaison Lead – IBM Watson 

Jodie Sangster is the Asia Pacific CMO Liaison Lead for IBM Watson Customer Engagement. 

Jodie is a leading data-driven marketing specialist and qualified lawyer (specializing in privacy and data protection) and her extensive experience spans over 20 years, including roles in the US, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. 

Prior to IBM, Jodie was the CEO of The Alliance for Data Leadership (AADL), a network of industry associations representing and assisting over 1000 organisations to excel in data-driven and digital marketing, analytics and data governance. The Associations include:

  • The Association for Data-driven Marketing and Advertising (ADMA), 
  • The Institute for Analytics Professionals of Australia (IAPA), 
  • Digital + Technology Collective (DTC); and 
  • Data Governance Australia (DGA). 

She has also held roles as SVP Global Development for the Direct Marketing Association (USA) and Chief Privacy Officer for Acxiom (Asia Pacific).

Jodie chairs the Global Alliance of Data-Driven Marketing Associations (GDMA), a consortium of 27 data-driven marketing associations around the world with a mandate to advance and champion responsible global marketing and advertising. She is also a non-Executive Director on the Board of Amaysim, Australia’s fourth largest telco.


Adam Isaacs - Watson Marketing Solutions Specialist 

Adam brings experience and fresh perspectives into solving customer engagement challenges both great and small. Implementing design thinking and outcome centric strategies, he is able to help organisations arrive at better business outcomes faster. Adam works across verticals including Retail, Banking & Finance, Insurance, Travel & Tourism, FMCG, scaling start up’s, and Telco's.

He’s based in Melbourne but works across Australia and New Zealand. You can usually find him where ever they serve good coffee, good beer, or behind his laptop in your local airport. 


The world is marching into a new era of customer experience where business, experience and technology intersect. Dynamic duo Sara Rad Senior Experience Designer and Dr Xuxu Wang will facilitate a session where they’ll bring the intangible concepts of Customer Experience to life in the most tangible way with support from members of the PwC Experience Centre Team. 

Sara Rad – Senior Experience Designer
Sara is a passionate change agent who has a burning desire to help make a difference. She is a firm believer of using human-centred design, technology and business strategy to solve problems. Drive innovation and design interventions that ultimately improves customer experience, and delivers on outcomes. Sara has worked with clients across government, transport, telco, finance, and health sector. She has solid experience in leading human centred - lean UX sprints helping organisations with customer centric transformation. She is skilled at managing change hubs, business design, service design, user research, design thinking and translating insights into actionable business implications. Prior to PwC, Sara was part of the Service Design & Implementation Change Group at IR. Sara holds a Master of Design from AUT and a B.F.A in Graphic Design from SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design). 

Dr Xuxu Wang – Data Science Lead
Xuxu Wang is a highly experienced data science lead with comprehensive knowledge in data science, advanced data analytics, machine learning algorithms, big data and AI technologies with agile methodology. She bring customer experience, analytics and data science together to drive better business outcomes. She obtained PhD in Computational Statistics and Machine Learning. She has 10+ year experience in data science, statistical modelling, machine learning and AI algorithms. Xuxu has worked with clients across government, transport, telco, finance, and health sector. She holds a PhD degree in Computational Statistics with several publications in top academic journals. She has 10+ year experience in bringing customer experience with data science together to drive better business outcomes. She has solid and extensive knowledge about data science, advanced analytics and machine learning algorithms, especially in customer analytics, advanced statistical modelling, network graph modelling, semantics analytics, topic modelling, cyber crime detection algorithms, fraud detection algorithms and so on..  


Rohit D'Cunha - Driving Business Change to deliver better Customer Experiences

Rohit is passionate about people. He has a constant desire to travel, work in different industries and learn about various cultures and behaviours to understand and to connect with people at a deeper level. With his diverse 23 years of work experience in India, Spain, Australia and New Zealand, he has been exposed to roles in Market Research, Sales, Process Improvement and now with Customer Experience. Through these various roles he has learnt a few things – everything we do is about people and driving positive experiences and emotions gain trust and loyalty. He also believes that we humans and the technology are constantly evolving, so it is very important to lead if not respond quickly in a fast-paced environment. To stand out of the crowd and make a positive difference, we need to listen and understand our people and make all our interactions as human and easy as possible. To build awesome customer experiences, we need to give equal weightage to both, the customer and the employee experience. 

Rohit has worked with product and services lead teams, owning the experience design and deployment of products and services to market in the enterprise space. He has also helped organisations drive better customer experiences using customer qualitative and quantitative data to prioritise and lead initiatives to drive better customer experiences and improve the brand experiences. He uses Design Thinking methodologies to bring customers and internal teams involved together, identifying root cause problems and create solutions to drive better experiences for both the employee and the customer. Rohit has also helped organisations build their Customer Journeys, Service Blue Prints and Insights to Action Frameworks to help align all parts of the organisation to be customer led in their decisions, investments and strategies.


Previous Workshops

Friday June 15th - Conversational AI

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Conversational interactions create powerful relationships. They nurture the trust and confidence our consumers use to decide whether to do business with us.

This session will give you the capability to design and create conversational interfaces like chatbots.

  • What are the key things I should focus on when designing a chatbot for our business?
  • What makes a good chatbot great?
  • How do I connect my organisational dataset to create a truely intelligent conversational interaction?

Presented by:


Isuru "Issy" Fernando is IBM’s Leader on Analytics and Artificial Intelligence in New Zealand. Globally, Issy is a recognised thought leader and is in the top 0.1% of IBM’s talent. He graduated from the University of Auckland where he was known for pushing the boundaries of theory and practice. He went on to co-found a successful start-up, he's a board member of the Association of Information Professionals Australia Chapter, and he is part of the Embedded Systems and Robotics research group at the University of Auckland. He's also authored a number of journal articles.



Jonathan Ackerman loves crafting elegant but pragmatic solutions and is a strong believer in Agile and Lean methods, as well as Continuous Delivery.

During his 24 years of commercial software development, he has had the opportunity to work across a large range of industries and organisations.

These include large corporations such as Air New Zealand, GlobalDairyTrade, TVNZ, Vero, Vodafone, Westpac, through to start-ups such as Anaplan in the US and small local companies such as Star86, a small games company.

Whilst generally taking on the technical leadership and mentoring roles within a team, he is equally comfortable at performing project management, business analysis, testing and even infrastructure roles.

A technology polyglot, Jonathan is comfortable using a wide range of technologies and development languages. However his current focus is JavaScript and associated front-end technologies along with Java, C# and Python for backend systems. The bulk of his current work is focussed on building digital assistants and conversation platforms using an array of AI technologies.

After completing his 3 years of study in Information Techonology in South Africa, Jonathan immigrated to New Zealand and started his career. He is married and is raising two digital natives who he hopes will follow in his footsteps. He also runs a small YouTube channel teaching game programming.

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AI.Legal 101 – What you need to know when developing conversational interfaces

Edwin Lim – Partner, Hudson Gavin Martin

Ed is a partner at Hudson Gavin Martin, a boutique technology, media and intellectual property law firm. Ed has 18 years’ experience working with businesses in various industry sectors including those that create, or wish to adopt, new or developing technologies. He has degrees in law and information systems from the University of Auckland, so understands the technical, commercial and legal issues involved in technology projects. Ed also enjoys adopting and configuring new and developing technologies to improve his day-to-day life.

Friday June 1st - Data WRANGLING

We'll show you how to unlock the known and dark data sets within your organisation. The ideas, opportunities and insights you never knew you had or thought too difficult too expose will become your competitive advantage.

  • How do I unlock the secrets hidden in dark datasets?
  • How should I manage, organise, store and share my data?
  • How do I interrogate my datasets to solve a problem or identify new opportunities?



The future of Data Science

Join IBM for an interactive session on the future of Data Science! Kieran Hagan, IBM Analytics Technical Sales Leader, will be discussing how the company sees the potential of the field and will be announcing a revolutionary new platform to meet that demand. Following this, Keith Doan, IBM Data Science Technical Lead, will walk through an analytics modelling demonstration using technology available today. This session will enlighten you on the art of the possible, while giving you a practical foundation to make your data ready for AI. 

Kieran Hagan, IBM Analytics Technical Sales Manager for IBM Australia and New Zealand. 

Kieran Hagan is the IBM Analytics Technical Sales Manager for Australia and New Zealand. He leads a team of dedicated Analytics professionals and has an established background in the Data Integration space through various consulting and implementation roles. He has worked with clients worldwide in the Finance, Telecommunications, Utility and Government Services sectors. He believes passionately in the ability of information to make a difference to clients and end consumers and is an advocate for unlocking data potential.

Keith Doan, Enterprise Analytics Architect - IBM Data Science Experience, Machine Learning, Decision Optimization

Keith Doan is an Enterprise Analytics Architect with IBM in Australia. He has about 20 years' experience in pre-sales, business consultant, and system architect roles in helping organisations across industry sectors. His specialties include advanced analytics, risk management, enterprise architecture and technology in various platforms. In the current role of Enterprise Analytic Architect, Keith helps organisations to enable data science and decision optimisation capabilities with IBM Analytics technology. Keith has a bachelor degree in Mathematics and Statistics, as well as Master of Business Administration with a major in Finance from Melbourne Business School.

Isuru "Issy" Fernando is IBM’s Leader on Analytics and Artificial Intelligence in New Zealand. Globally, Issy is a recognised thought leader and is in the top 0.1% of IBM’s talent. He graduated from the University of Auckland where he was known for pushing the boundaries of theory and practice. He went on to co-found a successful start-up, he's a board member of the Association of Information Professionals Australia Chapter, and he is part of the Embedded Systems and Robotics research group at the University of Auckland. He's also authored a number of journal articles.



Cyrus Facciano - Director - Data & Analytics National Leader

The PwC D&A team will talk about, what we have found to be the best way to identify the data needed to solve problems and what is involved in the overall process using tangible examples. They will aim to provide insight for the analytics curious as well as the hardened practitioner.


Ipiphany - AI cognitive text analytics

Our talk will look at the practical application of Human AI collaboration when working with customer data, using a highly disruptive analytics technology. In a ‘hands on’ workshop style session using real data, Ipiphany Consultants will take you through a real example of the Top Issues your execs need to act on in a real business setting. We will show you how easily non-analysts and analysts can uncover hidden signals from dark data. This is something that has not been possible before, combining speed, machine intelligence, and deep understanding. In highly competitive markets where we play globally, business users are using Ipiphany everyday to gain a competitive advantage.

Tony Patrick - Tony has extensive experience in understanding the customer, having worked in market research for over 2 decades in both Australia and New Zealand. His design-centred research approach has been a core component of the development of Ipiphany, Touchpoint's cognitive analytics tool, specifically ensure that the AI outputs lead the user to actionable outcomes. Tony will take you through Ipiphany from raw data to insights.

Ritesh Bisoi – Ritesh is a globally experienced technology leader who has a passion for taking NZ innovation to the world. His practical skills on the application of emerging technologies helps solve real business problems that drive bottom line results. Of late, Ritesh has led the growth and market development of Touchpoint Group's latest SaaS innovation Ipipihany, a world first AI driven cognitive analytics tool focused on the customer - set to revolutionise customer analytics.

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Simon Martin - Partner HGM

Simon is a partner in Hudson Gavin Martin.  He works with companies large and small advising them on how to make the most of the ideas, the IP and the technology that they have and at the same time ensure that they comply with the law.  He will be talking about the current legal frameworks, what is in the pipeline and what businesses need to consider as they build their data assets.