Phil O'Reilly, who headed Business NZ for 11 years, has been made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
He says a key focus of his time with the group was about emphasising the human side of Kiwi business.
"The number one thing we tried to do was move the business voice from being about business primarily to about New Zealand primarily," he told Newshub.
"We really tried to connect business and the success of the community."
He says he can't take all the credit.
"I really think it's a recognition of all of the variou business organisations that work so hard trying to make New Zealand a better place. In my view it's a vote of confidence in those people and what they do."
Mr O'Reilly's now working in Geneva with the International Labour Organisation.