IVLP Alumni Spotlight: Promoting the digital economy through collaboration

Mr. Hape with participants from Fiji and Indonesia in San Francisco, CA


In September of 2019, Mr. Aaron Hape of New Zealand participated in the multi-regional International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) project “Advancing an Open, Reliable, and Secure Digital Economy.” Working as a senior public servant in the New Zealand Government’s Provincial Growth Fund, his focus is aimed at helping guide regional economic development policies. For Mr. Hape, his IVLP experience highlighted the importance of global perspectives in pursuing his work remarking,

“Because of the myriad of cultures I was exposed to in my IVLP cohort, I now have a greater understanding of how other countries support the growth of their digital sectors and encourage the uptake and use of smart technology across business, industry, and government.” 

Meeting with organizations such as AT&T, Palo Alto Networks and U.S. governmental bodies like the Department of Homeland Security, Mr. Hape and his fellow participants gained insight into how businesses and governments alike use digital technologies to improve their productivity. Now in pursuing his work with the Provincial Growth Fund, Mr. Hape said he does so “with a greater sense of how economic development authorities and incubators around the globe support their communities.” 

Mr. Hape with participants from the United Kingdom and the Republic of Korea at LinkedIn in Sunnyvale, CA

Since his IVLP, Mr. Hape has felt encouraged to incorporate the same spirit of collaboration into helping address common local, regional and global challenges. Recently, he was approached by the World Economic Forum to found a Global Shapers Community hub, a network of young people who collaborate to address community needs. “I jumped at the chance because I knew this would be the perfect way to blend my passion for supporting people to grow and to deliver on the commitment I made to grow my global connectedness through economic engagement. Newly created, the Wellington hub is looking to curate a talented group of young leaders in 2020.

Mr. Hape extends his appreciation to all involved in his IVLP experience and looks forward to returning to the United States soon.  

  • Visitor: Mr. Aaron Hape
  • Title: Principal Advisor to the Head of the Provincial Development Unit, Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment
  • Country of Origin: New Zealand 
  • Itinerary: Washington, DC; Pittsburgh, PA; Charlotte, NC; Reno, NV; San Francisco, CA  
  • IVLP Project: Advancing an Open, Reliable, and Secure Digital Economy, 2019   

Written and submitted by Meridian’s Professional Exchanges Division Program Associate, Julia Koski