Get to know our newly established industry-led steering committee. This group will provide governance over the Diversity Agenda and our strategic direction. They are an incredible rōpū, complementing each other by bringing their own unique perspectives. Learn about each committee member, why they’re excited to be part of this mahi, and what they’ll each bring to the table.
(Chair) BVT Engineering – Chief Executive
I’m the CEO of BVT Engineering. Over the past three years, I’ve led the organisation, setting the direction and significantly increasing BVT’s growth in the New Zealand and Australian interior seismic engineering market. My leadership skills and ability to adapt to changing market landscapes have been recognised across the professional services eco-system, actively championing disruption, diversity and inclusion.
I’m passionate about the importance of diversity and inclusion in all aspects of life, and in particular, the rights of women. My purpose in life is to make sure my work enables women and girls to participate to the best of their abilities – economically, socially and environmentally.
Not afraid to challenge the status quo, I bring a wealth of experience to my roles in the construction industry. I’ve held leadership roles in the government sector, a global professional services organisation, and run my own strategic consultancy company working in New Zealand, the United Kingdom, United States and South Africa. I draw on this vast experience to create value for multiple stakeholders in the construction industry.
In addition to my role as the Chair of the Diversity Agenda Steering Committee, I’m the Vice President of ACE NZ and contribute regularly to industry working groups and regulatory advisory groups; I’m not just involved in the NZ construction sector, but am actively shaping it including working closely with government on the regulatory transformation agenda.
In my latest project, I’m a co-founding partner of the technology-based firm Luculent, the owner of Prenguin. I believe that through technology, we can and will transform the construction sector, increasing efficiency, improving equity and providing a pathway for more sustainable practices in construction.
Moving from my hometown of Melbourne in 2020, I’ve settled into a new life in Auckland along with my two daughters. As a keen runner and an avid consumer of books, movies and podcasts, it’s just as well I also value organisational skills – as there is plenty to fit in.
Aurecon – NZ Land and Water Leader and Leadership Team member
I’m a senior female who has been working in infrastructure for some 25 years. I’m on Aurecon’s Executive Leadership team, leading Aurecon’s Land and Water business across New Zealand.
I have worked with public and private sector clients, iwi groups, contractors, project partners and SMEs to deliver infrastructure projects to meet the needs of our communities, and through this have built a strong understanding of the value of our different experiences, skillsets and backgrounds bring to solving problems.
I am an advocate for diversity and have led and championed many Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programmes and initiatives throughout my career. I am currently an Executive Sponsor on Aurecon’s DEI Committee and the Executive Sponsor for Aurecon’s He Rautaki Māori Strategy.
As a female in this sector, I bring a wealth of knowledge and personal experience from navigating a career path, being a role model, coaching and mentoring many people, and ultimately becoming a female leader.
My vision for the Diversity Agenda is that we see a cultural transformation within the infrastructure sector where our workforce is made up of diverse representation that reflects the communities for which we deliver. We are making significant improvements in gender, Māori, Pasifika and LGBTI diversity statistics, and our organisations have embedded policies and practices, are driving initiatives and are demonstrating leadership and behaviours that enable inclusion to attract, retain and engage these diverse workforces into the future. I would also like to see the conversation around Neurodiversity and Accessibility & Disability evolve as a focus area.
I can bring experience and knowledge of successful delivery and lessons learnt from initiatives delivered by my own organisation and also through my colleague’s Leadership roles in Australian Champions of Change programmes.
I also bring connections into adjacent sectors such as Defence, geospatial and surveying to ensure we share and leverage knowledge for the betterment of Aotearoa. But most importantly, I bring passion and commitment to see a step-change in diversity within the infrastructure sector.
Tetra Tech Coffey – General Manager NZ
I’m the General Manager of Tetra Tech Coffey New Zealand and responsible for business strategy, commercial performance, building client relationships and mentoring staff to bring out their full potential.
I was the foundational Chair for the Tetra Tech global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council for Tetra Tech’s 21,000 associates from late 2019 to early 2022. I have over 23 years of experience working across a wide variety of engineering projects in New Zealand, Australia, PNG and the UK.
I’m a Chartered Engineer with a Masters in Civil Engineering from the Imperial College London. I moved from the UK to make Aotearoa my home in 2008. Outside of work you’ll usually find me out on a walk or riding a road, gravel or mountain bike enjoying our beautiful motu!
As Engineers, we have a pivotal role in society. I’m extremely passionate about delivering projects that positively influence the world we live in. As Tetra Tech Coffey’s representative, I was proud to sign the Diversity Accord in 2020.
Over the more than 20 years that I’ve been in our industry, we’ve made a lot of positive progress on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion – however, we still have a long way to go. Daily, I witness our engineering projects used by our community; benefiting us and future generations to come. With critical infrastructure challenges and the impact of climate change, there has never been a more important time to ensure that NZ has the resources required to create an Aotearoa we are all proud of.
As an industry we must represent the community we serve, to ensure we have the diversity of thought integrated throughout our work. It is time for us to take an industry approach to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, setting a clear strategy and appropriate goals to ensure we become more diverse, inclusive and equitable.
As an engineer, I’m a logical thinker, who makes balanced evidence-based decisions. Above all, I’m guided by values and behaviours, never asking someone to do something I wouldn’t do myself. I believe that actions are much more meaningful than words. I enjoy working collaboratively and highly value the diversity of thought and ideas in a great team dynamic. I’m very committed to the pursuit of goals that I set for myself (especially anything cycling based!). As a leader, I’ve learnt that it is sometimes important to take hard courageous decisions, as the easy road is not always the right path to take. DEI is often like this, it isn’t always easy, however, it is the right thing to do!
JENSON VARGHESE MRCagney – Managing Director
I’m the Managing Director of MRCagney, a specialist sustainable transport consultancy. I have been leading MRCagney in Aotearoa for eight years and bring a unique perspective as a managing director of a small consultancy firm. I have significant governance skills, and experience as a director and board member. This includes being a director of MRCagney and a former board member of ACE New Zealand among other governance roles.
My vision is that the engineering and architecture sectors are not only far more diverse, but also inclusive. To date, The Diversity Agenda has had a strong focus on gender. That was a natural and sensible starting point, but I believe we must aspire to move beyond this binary. We have set a strong foundation, so we must start working on improving all types of diversity and ensuring that this is supported by meaningful inclusion.
I will bring a small business, immigrant and Pasifika lens. I was born and raised in Samoa. I then migrated from Samoa to New Zealand. Samoa is still one of the two places I consider home and it is important to me that the voices of Pasifika people are heard in our industry.
Over my career, I have been involved with grassroots organisations with diversity and inclusion objectives such as SPPEEx and Women in Urbanism. I will bring a grassroots approach and will actively engage with representatives of complementary organisations such as SPPEEx, to try and bring the views of less heard voices to the table
Diversity and inclusion can often be seen as the domain of larger well-resourced firms; however, it is vital that smaller firms are also passionate advocates. I believe it’s critical that the steering group can understand and address the needs and challenges of smaller firms, so they will also meaningfully engage. Without them being on the journey we are missing a substantial part of our sector.
GHD Limited – Executive Director
I’m the People Leader for the Asia Pacific region at GHD, encompassing New Zealand, Fiji, Australia, Papa New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore and China. Throughout my career, I’ve worked in a cross-section of industries from FMCG, to Banking and Private Health. Since joining GHD ten years ago, I’ve become a GHD Principal, an Executive Director on GHD’s Global Board of Directors, a role I’ve held for almost 5 years, and is the Executive Sponsor for the NZ Asia Pacific Women in GHD Group (WinG).
Proudly from Waikato, I have a Bachelor of Social Science majoring in Industrial and Organisational Psychology and a Bachelor of Education from Waikato University. I’ve spent time living in the United States, graduating from high school there. I have a large family located in both Australia and New Zealand and enjoy visiting family and camping holidays at Whangateau.
To be bold. To challenge, enable and empower our sector to lead in inclusion & diversity, working at pace to create an industry that thrives is my vision for the Steering Committee.
With investment and governance, The Diversity Agenda has the very real opportunity to shift the dial on Inclusion and Diversity. Our communities are facing complex challenges and an uncertain future. For us to effectively partner with our clients to solve these issues, we must push ourselves to grow and evolve our understanding of equality and equity.
This means operationalising our inclusion and diversity strategies in a way that creates tangible, measurable outcomes. Not just for the sector, but for the incredibly dynamic range of organisations and businesses we work with. It means moving beyond the status quo to set new professional expectations; to provide tools, resources and opportunities that will make a real difference to those working in our industry.
As a People Leader, I have been supporting GHD’s inclusion & diversity journey for a number of years. This is something I feel privileged to have been involved with and we are beginning to see growing investment in and ownership of this business imperative, with an increasing focus on ESG and social license.
Through my work, I have built a practical experience in Talent Management, Acquisition, Pay Equity, and Inclusive Policy development. I am proud to have supported the establishment of the GHD New Zealand’s Inclusion & Diversity committee a number of years ago – together, we introduced the TupuToa programme and Rainbow Tick certification to GHD.
I have sound governance experience having spent five years on GHD’s Global Board of Directors, during that time contributing to the GHD Board Nominations, Audit and ESG Committees. I am also a graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Ultimately, shifting the dial on I&D is a personal passion of mine and I see this as an exciting opportunity to contribute not only to GHD’s ongoing journey but also to our industry.
Jerram Tocker Barron Architects Ltd – Architectural Graduate
First, I must ‘out’ myself to you dear reader: I am queer. I am someone who has had an overwhelmingly positive experience of being queer and I am extremely fortunate in this. I have a very supportive family and a fantastic fiancé. I am young, white, male and middle class, with the amazing rights and opportunities that those before me have fought for. The least I can do is to use this platform for the better of future generations and for the good of my discipline, however far that goes.
I’ve been working at Jerram Tocker Barron Architects in Wellington since graduating with a M.Arch (Prof) from Victoria University in 2017. I’m currently working on my registration as an Architect, hoping to have that done by mid-2022. My involvement with Te Kāhui Whaihanga NZIA started at university, and since 2017, I’ve been a local branch committee member. In 2019, I joined the national Emerge committee.
Outside of architecture (and committees!) I love to cook and bake, game, read, and spend time with my fiancé, family and friends.
My vision for the Diversity Agenda is not only to continue the great work so far – holding signatories and members accountable for diversity goals – but also to support and advocate for more diversity in education, scholarship, hiring and promotions. I have a particular interest in extending this work to Rainbow communities. I’m excited to help the Architecture and Engineering professions become more diverse.
I bring my background experience and understanding gained through my engagement in the architecture profession. I will bring a wide view from that work, along with my personal networks extending to the VUW School of Architecture and Rainbow Wellington. From the mid-size firm JTB Architects, I have a good knowledge of the cross-section of architecture firms in Wellington and around the country.
I have a good understanding of governance and committee membership; I will champion diversity and inclusion, particularly for Rainbow communities; I have good integrity and high ethical standards; I’m flexible and adaptive; I’m a great team player, I’m compassionate and work well with pretty much anyone.
DR BRETT OGILVIE
(Ngāti Whakahemo/Ngāti Awa)
Tonkin + Taylor – Director/Executive Leader in Sustainability
I’m an Executive Leader in Sustainability and a Board Director of Tonkin + Taylor Group, a role in which I’ve had executive oversight for the company’s sustainability strategy, Diversity, Inclusion, Equity and Belonging (DIEB) programme and innovation programme. I have more than 30 years of international experience in consulting, management and governance, working with clients in numerous sectors including transport, water, energy, extractives, industry, central and local government and international development.
My qualifications are in environmental sciences and economics. I’ve worked in more than 25 countries in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Pacific. I’m a Member of the Institute Directors (NZ) and the NZ Freshwater Sciences Society, a Member of the Chartered Institute of Water & Environmental Management (UK), and a Member of the Royal Society for Biology (UK). As well as my role on the Diversity Agenda Steering Group, I currently serve on the Boards of ACE New Zealand, Greenroads International, Auckland Normal Intermediate School and Tonkin + Taylor Group Ltd.
I see the Diversity Agenda as a movement that will help Aotearoa New Zealand to build a workforce in the engineering, architecture and consulting sector, which is much more reflective of the communities and people that we serve. In having broader perspectives and skillsets in our workforce, the work we do will be of greater benefit to a wider range of communities. It also means that the benefits of training and employment in our sector will become available to a more representative cross-section of our communities.
In addition to my governance, management and technical skills – I’ll bring an extrovert, enquiring personality to the Steering Committee. And in addition, a broad set of perspectives from having a “non-standard” whakapapa and CV, and from spending three decades working within the engineering sector as a non-engineer.
Graduate Spatial Advisor
Kia ora, I’m Sophie!
I have a background in Geographic Information Science (GIS), gaining my Bachelor of Science in this subject area in 2021. During my studies, I worked as a tutor and research assistant in GIS and environmental modelling. I chose to work in transport, as I knew it is a prolific area when it comes to climate impact, and I aim to use my GIS skills to help organisations make efficient decisions, in climate impact and beyond.
I have a passion for climate science and complex systems theory and do a lot of reading in these areas in my spare time. Outside of work and personal study, I love getting into nature, particularly skiing and cycling.
I envisage the Diversity Agenda becoming an active part in driving support for under-represented groups in our industries. This support can come from a variety of creative resources that the DA can foster and develop. I know that diversity of thought is vital for our industries’ future success and sustainable growth, and my vision for the Diversity Agenda is to build and use these resources to make business outcomes, and the work environment in general, better for everyone.
As a queer transgender woman, I aim to bring a voice for LGBTQIA+ whanāu to the Steering Committee. This often-marginalised group of the workforce have great ideas and passion that I will push to represent. I am also early in my career, bringing the perspective of recent graduates who often need a lot of guidance and support. The Steering Committee will bring these voices to a wider audience, where together we can make positive change with the Diversity Agenda.
Beca – Senior Associate, Project Manager & Head of Māori Business Development
Tēnā koutou katoa.
Kei te uri au o Te Atihaunui a Pāpārangi, ko Ngāti Kahungungu ki Wairoa hoki.
No Whanganui au
Ko Tinui tōku Tūrangawaewae,
Ko Ōtautahi te kāinga ināianei
Ko John ahau.
I’m from Whanganui and raised in coastal Wairarapa. I’m Te Atihaunui a Pāpārangi through the Williams Whanui from Whanganui, and Pākeha through the Blyths and Smiths from Whanganui and the lower North Island. His mahi has seen him work with many Local Authorities in Tamaki Makarau and Ōtautahi in the Technology sector. Over the last 11 years, I’ve been with Beca Ltd based in Te Whanganui-a-Tara and Ōtautahi and had various focuses in Project Management and Business Management within the Environmental outcomes space.
Most recently, I’ve been leading Beca services in their change to a kaupapa Māori based approach, and have helped set up a Māori leadership structure for Beca’s Aotearoa business. Myself and Kellie have raised our 3 daughters in Ōtautahi / Christchurch.
The kaupapa in Beca is a vision I bring to this rōpū, and centres around a springboard for cultural inclusivity and supports the industry-wide lift in the space of Te Ao Māori. We have been talking about Te Ao Māori, Te Ao Pakeha as a narrative for working together as a Bi-Cultural nation for quite some time. And an emerging thought from that is Māori culture and Te Ao Māori shouldn’t be a differentiator for a company.
My wish is that Te Ao Māori is respected as a worldview within the industry as a whole. There is an amazing knowledge growth potential for the industry to add value to Māori, by respectfully integrating Māori worldview into how Engineering functions as an industry in Aotearoa. Thinking longer term, the opportunity exists for industry to lead the way in the inclusivity of many world views and cultures in Engineering, built on the knowledge learnt from a truly co-existing partnership based nation. This is just one of the many narratives to support Diversity and Inclusion, but it’s a founding narrative for Aotearoa, in the context of Te Tiriti and history over the last 200 years.
I’ve had a pretty diverse career so far that’s seen me gain more and more confidence to express and stand in front of a set of beliefs that are centred around expressing a different worldview. I’m itching to see that change and for the industry to adopt “Super-powers” available from Te Ao Māori.
I want to see young people be able to have a choice empowered by their own culture and to arrive in an industry that is welcoming and respectful but also wants to incorporate that super-power. This feels like a vision too and there are many, including in this new rōpū that share this view, maybe with a different lens too. I think bringing an ability around kia mahaki, finding a respectful way to share this view and knowledge that helps my mete and others in the industry bridge the gap between industry and Te Ao Māori.
Nō reira, tēnā koutkout, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa