Andrew Smith CA: Weta Workshop to climate action
Andrew Smith CA guided Weta Workshop’s creature makers into their own screen productions. Now he’s tackling climate change.
- Andrew Smith CA was CFO of Weta Workshop for a decade and then chief executive of Pukeko Pictures.
- After a career in screen production, Smith switched to the software industry and joined the council of the AI Forum NZ.
- Smith is now chief financial officer at CH4 Global, whose mission is to help combat climate change.
1970s to 1990
Picture: Newly arrived in New Zealand, aged two.
I was born in Kilmarnock in Scotland, a place best known for Johnnie Walker whisky. My parents left when I was two to come to Wellington, New Zealand, the furthest away from the UK they could get.
I grew up in sleepy suburbia and went to Victoria University to study for a Bachelor of Commerce and Administration, with a major in accountancy. I graduated in 1989 and went to work in a small CA firm – just as a worldwide recession hit. So I decided to pack my bags, travel the world and go surfing in far-flung places such as Mexico, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.
Picture: Surfing in the Maldives.
1990 to 2010
Picture: Inspecting one of the "Mars Attacks!" Martian models at Mackinnon & Saunders in the UK.
I arrived back in NZ in 1990 to finish my final qualifying exams and restart my career. I took a government job and eventually landed at the NZ Treasury. While the government is a great place to work, I had an entrepreneurial itch. When a friend approached me about working in the film industry I jumped at it. I started with a two-week contract that went on to become a 10-year career as chief financial officer of Weta Workshop. We worked on films including Lord of the Rings, King Kong, Avatar and The Hobbit, among many others.
Still with the entrepreneurial itch, I worked on diversifying Weta into merchandising and creation of its own intellectual property, eventually going on to become chief executive officer of Pukeko Pictures. In 2005, we executive produced our own TV series, The WotWots, and in 2013 it culminated in the remake of the Thunderbirds, co-produced with ITV.
Picture: Launching The WotWots on ABC TV in 2005.
2010 to present
Picture: In Bluff, on the tip of NZ’s South Island, home to CH4’s Asparagopsis seaweed which is made into a methane-busting livestock feed additive.
I wanted to reduce how much time I spent travelling, so I left the screen industry in 2010 and moved into the software industry with Touchtech. Running a 25-person software development firm was an enlightening experience. Sitting on the executive council of the AI Forum NZ, I learned so much about what software is capable of, particularly artificial intelligence.
Still with an entrepreneurial spirit, a few years ago I invested in start-up CH4 Global whose mission is to urgently tackle climate change. We initially produced a feed supplement that when fed to livestock virtually eliminates the production of methane (a very harmful greenhouse gas 86 times more potent than CO2). Fortunately, CH4 was awarded a NZ government grant to develop the business, allowing the company to hire me as CFO in 2019. In 2021, we closed a US$13 million Series A round of financing, giving us the resources to scale our operation and affect methane emissions in Australia and NZ.
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