new zealand

Symposium 2018

Tuesday 5 June &
Wednesday 6 June 2018
Cordis Hotel 

Registrations for this event have now closed.

the New Zealand

Women's Leadership Symposium


09:00 – 09:25     Welcome and Opening Comments

09:25 – 10:05     Keynote Address

Renee Graham

Chief Executive, Ministry of Women

Renee Graham is Chief Executive of the Ministry for Women. She was previously Policy Director at the Ministry of Education. Ms Graham has a strong background in leading complex strategic policy development in both the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Social Development. As well as her policy expertise, Ms Graham also has experience in operational roles in Work and Income, before moving into project and management positions after starting her career as a frontline case manager. Ms Graham is a skilled public service senior leader with a track record of successfully leading the development of solutions to complex policy issues. Ms Graham is of Ngāti Toa and Ngāti Raukawa descent.

10:05 – 10:40     Keynote Address

Dr Farah Palmer ONZM​

Board Member, Rugby New Zealand and Former Black Ferns Captain

Dr Farah Rangikoepa Palmer is a Co-Director of the Māori Business & Leadership Research Centre and a Senior Lecturer in the School of Management, Massey Business School, Massey University. She became the first female Director on the New Zealand Rugby Board in December, 2016 as well as the Chair of the New Zealand Māori Rugby Board. Her teaching and research interests are in sport sociology and leadership as they relate to Māori and women. Dr Farah was a member of the New Zealand women’s rugby team (Black Ferns) from 1995 to 2006, and captained the team to three World Cup wins (1998, 2002, and 2006). After retiring from rugby in 2006 she has worked as a sport columnist, in television, for a government agency, and as a Professional Development Manager mentoring professional rugby players. She advocates for gender equity and diversity in sport and academia and continues to strive for that elusive balance between work, leisure and family life.

10:40 – 11:10     Morning Tea

11:10 – 12:40     Panel Discussion

Susan Freeman-Greene

Chief Executive, Engineering New Zealand

Susan became Chief Executive of Engineering New Zealand in February 2015. She has worked in senior leadership and management for the last 15 years, heavily influenced by earlier roles as a lawyer and a mediator. Before starting at Engineering New Zealand, she was Chief Executive of the Broadcasting Standards Authority. She has also worked at the Human Rights Commission, as Chief Mediator and Strategic Policy Manager, and for the former Department of Labour. She describes her current role at Engineering New Zealand, with its vision of 'engineering a better life for New Zealanders', as a privilege, a challenge and a fantastic opportunity.


Sandhya Pillay

Country Manager, Coca-Cola Oceania

Having begun her career at the Soft Drinks division of SAB Miller in South Africa, Sandhya has been an associate of the Coca-Cola system since 2004. Joining as a Marketing Graduate, she progressed through the Sales and Marketing Functions. In 2009, she joined The Coca-Cola Company to lead Shopper Marketing for the Modern Trade Retail environment, advanced to leading the Commercial Capability Function and then devoted three years in Customer Leadership.In July 2015 she was appointed as the General Manager for Coca-Cola Oceania and relocated to New Zealand with her husband, three young daughters and two dogs.Sandhya is a graduate from the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.

Helen Mexted

Deputy Chief Executive Advocacy, Local Government NZ

Helen developed her early career in marketing for several of New Zealand’s largest corporates before moving into executive leadership roles in financial services and membership organisations where fast pace work and rapid change have become the norm. In her current role, Helen leads strategic policy direction, government relations and advocacy for New Zealand’s 78 councils, delivering on a vision of strong local democracy and vibrant and prosperous communities. Helen is passionate about women and leadership, and has built her career while raising two sons, completing an MBA and serving in governance roles in the community. Helen also holds a commerce degree and is a chartered member of the Institute of Directors.

Dr Mahsa Mohaghegh

Founder/Director, SheSharp; Lecturer in School of Engineering and Computer Science, Auckland University of Technology

Dr. Mahsa Mohaghegh is a computer engineer with a background in artificial intelligence and natural language processing. She obtained her PhD from Massey University with a thesis in statistical machine translation. After being awarded Google’s Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship in 2012, Mahsa became involved with Google’s Computer Science for High Schools initiative, and successfully applied for Google funding to run these workshops in Auckland for the last 4 years. Mahsa is also the founder and director of the women’s technology group She# -, a platform aimed at promoting STEM to the next generation, and creating networking opportunities for tertiary students and industry professionals in the digital sector. Her passion for promoting careers in technology to young women has been recognised by a number of organisations, and resulted in her being awarded at the Westpac Women of Influence Awards in 2013.

12:40 – 13:30     lunch break

13:50 – 14:40     Development Session

Be Brave, Adaptive and Experimental

As leaders we are constantly asked to consider the concept of the ‘authentic leader’, but in practice, authenticity can sometimes become a leadership trap that makes you feel like a fake or locks you into ‘an old self’ and an already strong comfort zone. At times, what is needed is an ability to identify a ‘new self’ and the capacity to be brave, adaptive, experimental and something of a chameleon. This high impact, interactive workshop will help you unlock a new sense of your identity by inviting you to ‘steal like an artist’, aim to learn, continually refine your style, and avoid sticking to one narrow story about what makes you effective and authentic.

14:40 – 15:10     Keynote Address

15:30 – 16:20     Keynote Address

The Right Honourable Dame
Jenny Shipley 

Former New Zealand Prime Minister

Dame Jenny Shipley was New Zealand’s first woman PM having led reform in a number of Senior Ministerial responsibilities in the New Zealand Government in the 1990s. In 2002 she retired from NZ politics and returned to the business and community sector. Dame Jenny Shipley is now an Independent Director and Chairman of China Construction Bank NZ Ltd, the NZX and ASX listed Genesis Energy and a number of other companies and organizations in NZ and off shore.She is deeply committed to the dividends that a great diversity strategy can deliver and is a determined promoter of women in leadership roles nationally and globally.Her passion is working with leaders who have the courage and competence to help “shape the future” of their communities, their companies and their country.

16:20 – 16:30     closing comments

16:30 – 17:30     Networking drinks

15:10 – 15:30     afternoon tea

Day 1

Tuesday 5th June, 2018

09:00 – 09:10     Welcome and Opening Comments

09:10 – 09:50     Keynote Address

Day 2

Wednesday 6th June, 2018

09:50 – 10:20     Keynote Address

Sandra Venables 

Assistant Commissioner: Road Policing, NZ Police

Sandra joined Police in 1994 and worked in a number of frontline policing roles in metropolitan and rural areas in Waikato and Northland districts, including Hamilton City, Hamilton East, Kaitaia and the Coromandel Peninsula.In 2014 she was promoted to Superintendent and moved to Eastern District as District Commander, just the second woman to be given a District Command role.In the same year she was deployed to Turkey as a Security Liaison officer for the Gallipoli commemorations, which she counts as a career highlight.In taking her current role in 2017, Sandra became the first female officer promoted to the rank of Assistant Commissioner.

10:20 – 10:50     In Conversation

Lizzie Marvelly 

Singer/songwriter and columnist

Lizzie Marvelly may have gained notoriety as a singer, but she has since earned her stripes as an award-winning columnist. In May 2015, Lizzie launched, an online media project aiming to create smart, ‘no-filter’ media for young women. Lizzie was motivated to create Villainesse because she wanted to hear more young female voices represented in the media. Winner of the 2017 Canon Media Awards Best Blog Site, Villainesse is on a mission to empower young women. Lizzie is a columnist for the Weekend Herald and took home the award for Opinion Writer – General at the 2017 Canon Media Awards. She regularly speaks at schools, universities, conferences and forums about feminism, empowerment, sexuality in the digital age, creativity, leadership and being a woman in business.  .

10:50 – 11:10     morning tea

11:10 – 12:40     Panel Discussion

Catherine Fox

Author and Journalist

Catherine is a leading commentator on women and the workforce. A journalist, author and presenter, she is regularly invited to address audiences ranging from the Defence Force to corporates and local government, and often appears in the media. During a long career with the Australian Financial Review she edited several sections of the publication, and wrote the Corporate Woman column and for Boss magazine before leaving to set up her own consulting business in 2012. Catherine helped establish the annual Westpac/Financial Review 100 Women of Influence Awards and is on several advisory boards, including the Australian Defence Force Gender Equality Advisory Board.

Leveraging growth opportunities
for female talent​

Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie

Former Chief Executive, Diversity Works NZ

Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie has been in the Chief Executive seat at Diversity Works New Zealand (formerly the Equal Employment Opportunities Trust) since 2012 following roles in marketing and relationship management across both private and public sector and a time running her own business. In the past five years she has witnessed a sea change in attitudes towards workplace diversity and inclusion and is committed to helping businesses across New Zealand to be better-by-diversity.Bev believes that to bring out the best in diverse individuals and teams we need to cultivate a workplace culture that values difference and makes the most of everyone's talents; an approach that values the transmission of valuable knowledge and experience from one generation to another, from one culture to another, and from one team to another.

Professor Spencer Beasley

Former Vice President, Royal Australasian College of Surgeons

Professor Spencer Beasley is a member of the Male Champions of Change STEM (Science, technology, engineering and mathematics) group which is focussed on improving gender equity and facilitating increased representation of women in leadership roles. Until recently, he was Vice-President of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, and responsible for the implementation of the Expert Advisory Group recommendations around Discrimination, Bullying and Sexual Harassment (DBSH). He has been on the faculty of the RACS Foundation Surgical Skills course as part of the Operating With Respect Action Plan, and developed the new RACS Leadership course. He has had a research interest in unconscious bias in surgical selection. Professionally, he is the Professor of Paediatric Surgery, University of Otago, Christchurch, and the Clinical Director of the Department of Paediatric Surgery, Christchurch Hospital, New Zealand. He is a former President of the Australian and New Zealand Association of Paediatric Surgeons, and former Chair of the RACS Board of Surgical Education and Training. Spencer has a vested interest in gender equality – he has 6 daughters!

Kim Jarrett

Partner – Tax, Lead for International Trade Services, KPMG

Kim holds Bachelor’s Degrees in both Commerce and Law, is a member of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, and a Barrister and Solicitor of the New Zealand High Court. Kim is an international tax specialist and leads KPMG New Zealand’s Transfer Pricing and Customs team, with over 20 years’ experience advising multinationals on transfer pricing issues, advance pricing agreements, audits, documentation and dispute resolution.  She has an excellent reputation for her technical skills and her strong focus on service delivery.Kim is the Chair of KPMG NZ’s Inclusion and Diversity Council and also a member of the KPMG NZ Board.  

12:50 – 13:40     lunch break

13:40 – 14:20     Keynote Address

Lisa Tamati 

Ultramarathon runner

Lisa Tamati is a professional endurance athlete who has been competing in the world's toughest endurance events for the past 25 years. In that time she has run over 70,000km or the equivalent of three times around the equator. She is the author of two international bestselling books "Running Hot" and "Running to Extremes" and is the producer of a number of adventure films. She is also a serial entrepreneur and is the founder of five companies in areas as diverse as jewellery manufacture through to film production, event management and even a hyperbaric oxygen therapy clinic. Lisa's first love is understanding and harnessing the power of the mind to achieve the extraordinary. To this end she runs a mindset academy aimed at helping people develop mental toughness, resilience, leadership skills and a never quit mentality. 

14:20 – 15:00     Keynote Address

Cal Wilson

Popular Comedian, Broadcaster and Actor

Cal Wilson’s comedy career started in New Zealand in 1990 where she was a founding member of the Court Jesters improv group, and was part of the NZ team that won the World Theatresports title in Los Angeles in 1994. In 1997, she received the inaugural ‘Billy T Award’, New Zealand's most prestigious comedy award recognizing comedians with outstanding potential, and was judged Best Comedian 2000, by Metro Magazine. However, like all great New Zealand talent, Australia has claimed her as its own and Cal has made Melbourne her home for the past 10 years. In 2017, Cal returned to the stage with her new solo show Things I’ve Never Said, which drew sold out crowds at comedy festivals around Australia.

15:00 – 15:10     closing comments

09:00 – 09:20     Welcome and Opening Comments

10:50 – 11:10     Morning Tea

15:30 – 16:20     Keynote Address

Kirsten Patterson

CEO, Institute of Directors in New Zealand

Kirsten Patterson (known as KP) is the Institute of Directors Chief Executive. Formerly the Country Head of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, she is a qualified lawyer and Chartered Fellow of the Human Resources Institute of New Zealand. She has extensive governance and leadership experience, and is actively involved in community initiatives. For nine years, KP worked at the New Zealand Rugby Union and in 2007 she was appointed as General Manager Corporate Services.  A strong advocate of diversity, KP was one of the founding members of Global Women’s ‘Champions for Change’, a group of senior executives and directors who commit to diversity in the workplace. She is also a founding member of WiSPA, an organisation promoting women in sport, and mentors a number of female business leaders and an ex-Olympic athlete. 

Debbie Sorensen

Chief Executive Officer, Pasifika Futures

Debbie is a New Zealand-born Tongan, with her family connections to Leimatu’a in Vava’u and Tongaleleka in Ha’apai. She is a health strategist and management expert specialising in projects that address the health challenges that face Pacific communities in New Zealand and in the Pacific region. She played a leading role in the establishment of the Pacific health sector in New Zealand and continues to be active in the Pacific region in providing advice and support building workforce capacity and capability in partnership with ministries of health.

Debbie is currently Chief Executive of Pasifika Futures, the Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency for Pacific families in New Zealand; Chief Executive of the Pasifika Medical Association; Director of international consultancy firm Health Specialists Ltd; Chair of Make-a Wish-Pacific; and a Trustee of the Fred Hollows Foundation.

Commander Lisa Hunn

Commanding Officer, HMNZS TE MANA, Royal New Zealand Navy

Starting her career as a Bridge Watchkeeper, Commander Hunn served at sea in HMNZ Ships ENDEAVOUR, WELLINGTON, and CANTERBURY, and as Officer in Command of HMNZS TAKAPU. She has served at sea in both ANZAC class frigates; HMNZS TE KAHA as the Principal Warfare Officer and Operations Officer; and in HMNZS TE MANA as Executive Officer during 2006/2007. A highlight of her sea service has been serving in USS AMERICA as the Chief of Staff of the deployed battle staff for Exercise Rim of the Pacific 2016. Her current sea appointment saw her return to HMNZS TE MANA mid-2017 as Commanding Officer where she was the first women to command a frigate. In her career she has also served in a number of staff appointments ashore and recently chaired the RNZN Women’s Steering Group and been the Chief of Navy’s Strategic Women’s Advisor. 

Lee Hatton

Chief Executive Officer, UBank

Lee Hatton is the CEO of UBank and Executive General Manager of Direct Banking at National Australia Bank (NAB). With more than two decades in the financial services industry, Lee has a breadth of experience. In her current role, Lee is responsible for leading the UBank business to disrupt in the banking space. Focused squarely on making the customer experience simpler, better and smarter, Lee is challenging that status quo and introducing new innovation to the industry. Lee started her career as a graduate at Westpac Banking Corporation in New Zealand, and subsequently held a number of roles across New Zealand, the UK, the USA and Australia. Lee is currently a Non-Executive Director of Xero Limited (listed on the NZX and ASX).

Stacey Morrison

Radio Host, The Hits Drive Show

Stacey Morrison’s multi-faceted career spans television and radio broadcasting, advocacy and governance. She is co-author of Māori at Home, which is designed for families wanting to incorporate Te Reo Māori into their family homes. She received the Māori language award for Special Champion in 2016 and works with Massey University’s Māori studies. As well as her role on The Hits on the Drive show, Stacey is an ambassador for the Breast Cancer Foundation NZ and Water Safety New Zealand, and is a Spark Foundation board member. Stacey’s ‘best work’ is undoubtedly her three children.

Exclusive Symposium Media Partner New Zealand Media and Entertainment

Exclusive Media Partner​

Sarah Wood

GM Digital Ventures – GrabOne, YUDU, and Digital Customer

Sarah Wood is a strategic, commercially focused, and financially astute executive with a wealth of experience in both New Zealand and the United States. Her ability to sell a vision and foster a working collaborative environment has been the driving force behind the success of well known New Zealand brands within NZME, including GrabOne and Driven. Sarah's ability to make things happen, drive results, and effect significant change within an organisation place her as one of the key players in the ever-expanding New Zealand digital environment.

Exclusive Symposium Media Partner New Zealand Media and Entertainment

Exclusive Media Partner​

13:30 – 13:50     In Conversation

Colleen Neville

CEO, Te Arawa Group Holdings Limited

Colleen is currently the CEO of Te Arawa Group Holdings Limited, the commercial arm of a Treaty of Waitangi settlement entity. Colleen has held this position for the last three years and, prior to this appointment, was the CFO for four years. Colleen (Waikato-Tainui) has 16 years of experience as a chartered accountant in diverse sectors including tourism, forestry, agribusiness, geothermal and health services. She also has extensive expertise in Māori post-settlement governance entities (PSGEs), Māori incorporations and Māori land trusts. Colleen’s previous roles have included CFO for Te Puia (Rotorua’s premier Māori cultural centre) and business advisory services for professional accountancy and management firms. Colleen has governance experience as a director in the forestry, fisheries, public health, communications and tourism sectors.


General Manager Human Resources, Douglas Pharmaceuticals

Jo is currently the HR Director at Douglas Pharmaceuticals. She has a passion for all things diversity having won 19 awards for her work in driving the diversity agenda at one of New Zealand’s largest law firms over the past five years. She is currently a YWCA Equal Pay Ambassador after winning the Gold Award for Pay Equity and the Supreme Award for Gender Equality at last year’s White Camellia Awards.   

Registrations for this event have now closed.

Women and Leadership New Zealand