Creative Welly Episode #32 | Michelle Kitney & Rob Cousins

Courageous conversations with bold humans (from the most creative little capital in the world).

Michelle Kitney, Chief Executive at Volunteering New Zealand

Michelle Kitney lead’s Volunteering New Zealand. Originally from Taranaki, she lives in Te whanganui a tara with her three boys and husband.

Volunteering New Zealand is the national umbrella organisation for volunteers and volunteering. It’s purpose is to empower volunteers to enrich Aotearoa New Zealand.

Michelle has a background in communications, marketing, social enterprise and not for profit experience. She has also worked in the public sector in New Zealand and the UK. She says she volunteered her way into her current job. Gaining relevant experience through a variety of volunteering roles.

She cooks and plays Floorball in her spare time.

Rob Cousins, Innovation Manager

Being honest, I’m a jack of all trades and master of none, who often seems to land on my feet, and somehow finds a way to make a difference with the people I meet. After a mediocre degree in Psychology, I worked in insurance and risk management in the UK, whilst pursuing hobbies that were both uninsurable and risky in many other parts of the world. Instead of a career, I’ve followed opportunities as they’ve arisen, and as I’ve pursued various different interests.

All of this has taught me that they key to most challenges is people, their experience, being curious and caring. Right now I am bringing this to how health and safety is understood, and how we might regulate that, from WorkSafeNZ. Shifting away from paperwork, compliance and rules. Moving towards caring about people, creating improvement, and giving people power over the things that affect them.

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Creative Welly Episode #31 | Victoria Crockford & James McCulloch

Courageous conversations with bold humans (from the most creative little capital in the world).

Victoria Crockford, Chief Executive Officer, Community Housing Aotearoa Ngā Wharerau o Aotearoa

Vic is the Chief Executive at Community Housing Aotearoa-Ngā Wharerau o Aotearoa (CHA), a peak body for Aotearoa’s community housing sector. With 90 members providing homes for over 18,000 households, CHA is working everyday towards a future where all New Zealanders are well-housed. With a builder husband and parents in the trades, Vic lives and breathes housing, and views it as the core around which all our lives revolve. Before joining CHA, Vic worked in the energy sector in communications and government relations, as well as in general community rabble rousing and the television sector in Tāhuna / Queenstown. She loves places where cultures collide and has lived in France, Italy, Ghana and the United Kingdom.

The work part adds colour, but the heart of Vic’s life is her family. She is a Mum to Eloise (7) and Cormac (5) and really digs her awesome husband, Rich.

James McCulloch, Chief Executive,
English Language Partners

I am currently Chief Executive of English Language Partners. ELP is the largest New Zealand education NGO working with former refugees and migrants, and helps over 7,000 people a year to settle and thrive in Aotearoa New Zealand.

I was approached to join ELP in mid-2020, as the world of work and learning rapidly shifted, to guide the team on a journey of rapid transformation and digital growth following my experiences scaling the learning company Inspire Group in NZ and overseas.

Prior to this, I led several NGO organisations in the UK and New Zealand and was formerly the Community Director at the City of London.

So, my roles have been diverse in location, but with one common theme, my why:

Life changing impact for individuals, teams and communities.

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Creative Welly Episode #25 | Isabella Cawthorn & Richard Shirtcliffe

Courageous conversations with bold humans (from the most creative little capital in the world).

Isabella Cawthorn, Editor, Talk Wellington

Isabella has been meddling, influencing and generally making good change in urban spaces for 20-odd years. Her chequered career includes co-founding Frocks On Bikes, doing community engagement on windfarm construction and street improvement projects, editing Talk Wellington, briefing local government candidates on elementary urbanism, helping establish NZ’s tactical urbanism programme, and facilitating rapprochement between local councils’ community development and infrastructure teams.

She’s a 1.5-generation Pākehā from Porirua. Find her on dancefloors, drinking coffee, and striking up conversations on trains.

Richard Shirtcliffe, Story-teller / WildClean Executive Janitor

I’m really just a story-teller, with a passion for building disruptive ‘triple bottom line’ brands.

My kids are my north star, and back in 2018 I watched as they paddled through a sea of waste plastic while learning to surf. Since then I’ve been on a mish to Un-muck Their World. To create businesses that trash the status quo; eliminate single-use plastic; and transform categories by delivering better products in a better way. WildClean.com – the world’s first plastic-negative cleaning co – is the latest.

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Creative Welly Episode #19 | Paula Eskett & Ari Sargent

Courageous conversations with bold humans (from the most creative little capital in the world).

Paula Eskett, District Libraries Manager, Waimakariri District Council

Paula Eskett has worked in libraries since her parents told her she needed an afterschool job at 14.

Her belief and determination in the community building and strengthening power of libraries has been reinforced through her mahi in an array of library roles across Aotearoa.

She is most engaged when advocating for and designing services that promote equity of access to all that libraries can offer their communities; knowledge in all its different forms, the tools and technology to create and share new knowledge and spaces to grow understanding and social connections.

Paula currently leads Waimakariri Libraries, is a LIANZA past president, CORE Education eFellow and fellow of Creative Common’s Institute of Open Leadership

Ari Sargent, Managing Director, Octopus Energy NZ

Known for his ability to think deeply, he was once described by a colleague as a “Brainbox wearing sneakers and shorts”. This description exemplifies the intelligent disobedience he likes to apply problem solving and innovation.

A 30 year veteran of the energy industry makes him either a dinosaur or a guru. He describes his early career as being interesting and extremely rewarding – he set up Meridian Energy’s trading operation, negotiated the renewal of the Tiwai Point electricity contract and spearheaded the company’s renewable energy strategy. But he definitely felt like a square peg in a corporate round hole. No surprise he lept from that environment to create Powershop, one of New Zealand’s most loved consumer brands, and established the world’s first multinational energy franchise to take Powershop to the world.

These days he is heading up UK unicorn Octopus Energy’s entry into the NZ electricity market and wants to make accessing clean energy easy and affordable.

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Creative Welly Episode #16 | Natasha Zimmerman & Ben Preston

Courageous conversations with bold humans (from the most creative little capital in the world).

Natasha Zimmerman, Meaning Maker

Natasha is the founder and creative force behind Unchatter, an organisation focused on bringing meaningful connection to the world. She creates spaces where small talk is banned and an array of thoughtfully curated exercises get participants to dig deep.

Natasha’s fab accent will tell you from the US, where she was a healthcare executive before coming to NZ to pursue her PhD at the University of Canterbury. Her current research is centered on belonging and connection in organisations, and she loves finding the juicy intersection of science, humanism, and practical application.

When she’s not engaged in a deep conversation, you’ll find Natasha getting lost in a good book, looking at the moon, organizing things for fun, and baking ridiculous cakes. She’s an old soul, an introvert, and a poetry zealot. Natasha lives in Christchurch with her joy-givers: her partner Hassan and her baby boy Bodhi.

Ben Preston, Independent Creative Consultant + Project Director at MOTIF

As an engineering technologist and regenerative practitioner, Ben supports revitalisation of the life-giving patterning in social, environmental and economic systems in business and place-based design.

This involves placing living, ecological processes of environments and cultures at the core of project team operations, engaging new forms of collaboration, procurement and design that are inclusive and holistic, and re-integrating individuals and groups in the re-patterning processes of their surroundings.

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