Senior Leadership Team

Brian Ward BVSc, MBA(dist),

Chief Executive, Executive Director and Founder

Brian has held senior corporate roles in life sciences and health care companies over the last 20 years. He is a graduate from Massey University with a Bachelor’s degree in Veterinary Science, a Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (UK), and holds a Masters degree in Business Administration graduating with distinction. He has extensive management experience in life science companies spanning clinical, technical, sales, marketing, corporate development and strategy having worked for a number of multinationals including Baxter, Beecham and SmithKline Beecham throughout the world. He has managed investments into New Zealand technology companies for the Foundation for Research Science and Technology, served as the founding CEO of NZBio, has sat on a number of government and industry expert panels.

Brian was the Founder of Aroa (previously Mesynthes) and has been responsible for leading the company’s growth from start-up through to becoming a vertically integrated medical device business with substantial US sales and a developing international presence.

James Agnew, LLB, BCom,

Chief Financial Officer

James has over 13 years’ experience in business and finance. He brings extensive experience in corporate finance, investment management, M&A, strategic and operational planning, contractual management and negotiation, international taxation and compliance, including US GAAP.
Prior to this role he was the VP of Finance & Operations for MXM Mobile (a division of the Meredith Corporation) based in New York, overseeing all international subsidiaries following the acquisition of The Hyperfactory Ltd (NZ high growth technology company) where he held the role of Group Financial Controller. In his earlier career, James worked with in public practice providing accounting and business advisory services to diverse range of successful NZ companies.
In 2011 James was a finalist in the Young Financial Manager of the year at the Annual CFO Awards and holds a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Commerce from Auckland University.

Simone Von Fircks,

Vice President - Operations

Simone brings extensive expertise in biological product manufacture. She was previously a senior manager and head at Baxter Healthcare Austria (Biopharmaceuticals) where she developed and managed operations, process transfer, and contributed to process development. Prior to this role she worked for biotech start-up Mologen (Germany) and was a research scientist at University of Amsterdam (The Netherlands) and University of Oldenburg (Germany). She has in degrees in Public Health and Laboratory Technology.

Barnaby C. H. May, Ph.D.

Vice President - Technology

Barnaby completed his doctoral thesis on the design and synthesis of novel HIV protease inhibitors at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. He subsequently undertook postdoctoral studies in 2000 at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). During this time, he established and led a drug discovery program targeting human prion diseases, and successfully identifying a compound that underwent immediate clinical studies. Dr. May developed additional related research programs in the areas of protein misfolding diseases, parasitic diseases, computational and structural biology. In 2003 Dr. May accepted an invitation to a faculty role at UCSF where he continued to build and lead a drug discovery program. This program spanned target and lead identification, high-throughput screening, medicinal chemistry, and pre-clinical pharmacokinetics. In 2004 Dr. May joined InPro Biotechnology as Scientific Director to lead product development of prion-related medical devices and diagnostics. After eight years abroad, Dr. May returned to New Zealand in 2008 and joined Aroa (formerly Mesynthes) as Scientific Director. He leads research and product development.