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TIA Board Elections 2021: Attractions, Conferences and Events sector

9 August 2021

Primary contacts of TIA member businesses are invited to vote for ONE candidate for their sector. 

Attractions, Conferences and Events sector

Michael Ahearne, SkyCity

Michael was appointed Chief Executive Officer at SkyCity Entertainment Group in November 2020. He joined SkyCity in December 2017 as the Group Chief Operating Officer and was responsible for driving value across SkyCity’s properties in New Zealand and Australia. Michael also led SkyCity’s online gaming strategy, including overseeing the establishment of SkyCity Online Casino in 2019.

Michael’s extensive global experience in the gaming industry spans over 20 years across multiple sectors including land-based and online casinos, as well as retail and online sports betting. Prior to joining SkyCity, Michael held a number of senior commercial, operational and product leadership roles at Paddy Power Betfair, one of the world leaders in sports betting and gaming.

Michael was the Chief Operating Officer for Aristocrat in the Australia and New Zealand regions for three years before which he held several senior management positions at The Star Casino in Sydney. Michael is a qualified accountant and holds an MBA from the University of Technology, Sydney.

Jake Downing, Wētā Workshop


Jake’s 20+ year career has been fully focused on the tourism industry working across specialist tourism retail sales, operations and general management, and all aspects of the distribution chain.


Jake’s governance experience began when he was appointed Director of the Falkland Islands’ Development Corporation, and General Manager of the Tourism Board in 2007. 


During this period, he completed a postgraduate degree in Financial Management, which proved to be excellent training for his next governance role as Director of i-SITE New Zealand.


Jake has been Head of Tourism at Wētā Workshop for the past seven years, in a role that encompasses all aspects of strategy and management: from sales and marketing, to operational delivery, through to HR.


At the end of 2020 Jake led the opening of a new Auckland experience for Wētā Workshop: Wētā Workshop Unleashed. In the first six months of operation, Unleashed has welcomed 60,000 visitors and has a 5-star rating on Trip Advisor.


Jake also sits on the Tourism Export Council Board and the Business Events Aotearoa Board and has assisted both organisations navigate through the current challenging times.

Thanks to our strategic partners

Thanks to our strategic partners

Thanks to our strategic partners