For his services to business, Otago MBA Alumnus, Uluomatootua (Ulu) Saulaulu Aiono was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) in the New Year of 2012.
Besides being a well-known face within the business sector, Ulu is a very much respected face and business leader within the Pacific Island community. He was the first person of Samoan descent to complete an MBA at Otago University in 1986 and is the first Samoan to start a high-technology enterprise in New Zealand. Today Ulu is a millionaire, having founded successful software company Cogita in 1983.
"[The Otago MBA] proved to me the necessity of thinking independently and helped me to find the appropriate tools for my mindset" says Ulu, reflecting on his Otago MBA experience.
Born in Samoa's capital, Apia, his parents and siblings travelled to New Zealand in 1960 in search of opportunity and set up home in Epsom. That's where the entrepreneur in him was born, Ulu said.
"We lived opposite Alexandra Park racecourse. At the time, my brother and I would've been 6 and 7 years old. They had trotting club races on Saturday nights sometimes and so early on Sunday morning we would get up at 5 o'clock, jump the gates and collect all the Coca-Cola and Fanta bottles we could find. Late after church on Sunday, we'd go to the dairy and then sell them. My brother and I lived like princes because of that."
Ulu's company is an international high-technology enterprise which specialises in resource planning software for blue-chip manufacturing and distribution companies. It is the world's top selling agent for Epicor software, based in the US, and has annual sales in the tens of millions. There are offices throughout Australia and the company also owns software assets in the United States.
Ulu, who thinks of himself as a Samoan Kiwi, told the Otago MBA, "I love New Zealand because it is one of the few places where immigrants may be acknowledged at this level."
"New Zealand must encourage immigration and retention of people with the skills we need by creating love and loyalty for New Zealand and it's future. This would allow entrepreneurship, a strong source of new jobs, to flourish in our small country just as it does in Israel, Silicon Valley and the like. What a different country we would live in."
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