NZ Public Sector Executive Assistant Congress agenda

4-5 November 2020, Wellington



Conference day one – Wednesday 4 November

08.30 Registration
09.00 Opening remarks from the chair

Making the step up to become a strategic business partner with your executives

  • Developing your skills and positioning yourself to become a strategic partner
  • Showing initiatives and understanding the function of the business
  • Breaking out of “I’m just an EA” mindset
  • Understanding your executives’ needs to prioritise from their perspectives
  • Being the voice of your executives

Mary Huffadine, Senior PA to Manager, Health, Safety & Security, Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities


Advancing your communication skills to influence others

  • Engaging your executives and colleagues in discussion
  • Adapting your commutation style to different situations
  • Being assertive and having your own presence in the workplace
  • Managing misunderstandings and conflicts

Cathy Sheppard, Founder and CEO, BSI People Skills

10.50 Morning Tea

Dealing with competing priorities and changing demands

  • Anticipating your executives’ needs and exercising judgements accordingly
  • Exploring practical strategies of people management
  • Setting up objectives, goals and deadlines
  • Dealing with uncooperative people on behalf of your executives
  • Remaining firm with your executives in certain situations

Aleisha Christison, Executive Assistant to Deputy Chief Executive, The Treasury

Vanessa Franks, Executive Assistant to ‎General Manager Workplace and Technology, NZ Transport Agency

Joanne Gallop, Executive Assistant to Chief Executive, Christchurch City Council

Penny Menzies, Executive Assistant to Head of People & Culture, Worksafe NZ


Mindfulness for peak performance

  • Why mindful is the new smart!
  • Managing the pain of the modern workplace
  • Mastering the art of self-awareness

Kerene Strochnetter, Mindfulness Consultant, Mindful at Work

12.40 Lunch

Creating a supporting network for executive assistants – connecting together to excel

  • Building an internal EA support group
  • Connecting with like-minded people
  • Seeking expert tips and support from your peers in the network
  • Becoming or finding a mentor

Joanne Gallop, Executive Assistant to Chief Executive, Christchurch City Council


Panel discussion: Taking control of your own career progression

  • Mastering a range of skills to advance your career as a professional executive assistant
  • Leveraging your experience to win a new role outside of the EA space
  • Communicating openly with your executives to gain support
  • Choosing the career path that’s right for you

Jo Doherty, Project Coordinator/Manager, Worksafe NZ

Alison McKessar, Senior Executive Officer, New Zealand College of Public Health Medicine

Angie Simms, Executive Assistant & Centre Manager, Victoria University of Wellington


Afternoon Tea


Applying project management skills at work

  • Dealing with project dynamics and setting reasonable project timelines
  • Making the most use of resources
  • Interacting with a wide range of people
  • Using negotiating and influencing skills in projects
  • Managing complex long-term projects

Debbie Gee, Associate trainer, Project Plus


Building resilience and raising mental health awareness

  • Dealing with and recovering from work-related stress
  • Handling sudden changes at the workplace
  • Exploring approaches and tips to avoid burnout
  • Developing self-awareness and self-care plans

Lynnette Chadwick, Trainor and Speaker, Lion Heart Education

 17.00 Networking drinks reception – take advantage of this exciting opportunity to put


Conference day two – Thursday 5 November 2020

9.00 Opening remarks from the chair

Senior Executives panel discussion: What makes a successful

  • What’s your vision of a great executive assistant?
  • What are the top-notch skills you appreciate the most?
  • Building a strategic business relationship with your Executive Assistants
  • Getting advice from the top – what do your Executives really want?


Suzanne Stew, Deputy Chief Executive Market Services Group, Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment

Russell Wood, Deputy Chief Executive Organisational Strategy & Capability Development, Fire and Emergency NZ

Tina Wakefield, Deputy Secretary Corporate and Digital Services, Ministry of Justice

Giles Southwell, General Manager Workplace and Technology, NZ Transport Agency

Glenda Harvey, General Manager People, Culture and Safety, Worksafe

  Achieving more by improving self-confidence and self-awareness
  • Showing confidence in both positive and negative situations
  • Using the power of positive thinking
  • Developing a winning attitude to exude a good vibe at work
  • Using your posture to create confidence

Vicky Evans, Mindset Mentor, Productivity and Success Coach, Vicky Evans Coaching

10.40 Morning Tea

Using technology to build a paperless work environment

  • Supporting a paperless workplace in a digital world
  • Using technology to view, edit and distribute documents electronically
  • Incorporating the latest technology and tools in the workplace
  • Continuously learning and evolving with technology

Lisa Balneaves, Executive Assistant to CFO, Western Bay of Plenty District Council


Panel discussion: Managing workloads and prioritising your tasks

  • Using effective time management techniques
  • Managing your executives’ expectations
  • Managing competing priorities and conflicting demands
  • Juggling different tasks within deadlines

Cherie Mangu, Executive Assistant to CEO, Te Mangai Paho

Lisa Balneaves, Executive Assistant to CFO, Western Bay of Plenty District Council

Kelly Nelson, Executive Coordinator to the CEO, Volunteer Service Abroad

Brigid Kavanagh-Dee, Executive Assistant to the Vice-Chancellor, Massey University

12.55 Lunch

Building a positive workplace culture as a trustworthy executive assistant

  • Handling confidential information with caution and respect
  • Providing diplomatic responses to sensitive information
  • Responding to gossips professionally
  • Dealing with office politics and conflicts between other staff members

Kelly Nelson, Executive Coordinator to the CEO, Volunteer Service Abroad


Exploring the opportunities of being a virtual assistant

  • What is a virtual assistant?
  • Working remotely to support your executives
  • Using the ever-evolving technologies effectively for daily operations
  • Overcoming challenges for virtual assistance

 Jo Jensen, Managing Director, Strictly Savvy  


Closing remarks from the chair and end of confernce