Thu 16 Mar 2023 AT 17:30 pm , Wellington

New Professionals - How to engage effectively with: Senior managers

At the end of 2022, the New Professionals launched a new series of events designed to help you navigate conversations at work. We started with how to engage effectively with your manager, next up - senior managers. Who are they? They’re your manager's manager – the directors, group managers, managing directors. Everyone has them. Do you know how their job is different from your manager’s? And how to account for that difference when engaging with them?

The New Professionals welcome you to hear from a panel of senior managers working in and alongside the public service. Their discussion will be loosely structured and will include the advice they’d give their new professional-selves.

Do you have a burning question? Don’t wait until the event, email it to

Event materials

Want to start getting your head around the difference between managers (people leaders) and senior managers (leaders of leaders)? This infographic from the Leadership Development Centre’s Te Kaitaki | New Leader of Leader Development programme is a great starting point. While it is from a development perspective, it outlines the shift expected as leaders transition from a people leader role to a leader of leaders role.

Event objectives

The event accelerates new professionals’ ability to engage effectively with senior managers by creating a space for them to hear from senior managers they do not directly work with.

Attendees will leave with a better understanding of:

  1. the role of senior managers (leaders of leaders) - their key responsibilities, any common misconceptions, and the difference between them and their managers (leaders of people).
  2. what senior managers care about most, what they need to know when you’re speaking to them or asking them to make a decision.

Panelist Bios

    • Andrew Curtis (AC), General Manager at the Ministry of Primary Industries – AC is a career public servant. He started his career as a quarantine officer on the Wellington port and has since held various roles in the biosecurity branch at MPI, including as the Director of Intelligence and Biosecurity Support Services. AC has experience leading people and projects. He has lead teams of technical experts (e.g., specialist business analysts, project managers, intelligence specialists, logistics experts, and policy SMEs) and a range of projects (e.g., digital, transformational, and operational responses to adverse events). Andrew believes in the spirit of service and is driven by a desire to enhance the Government’s ability to deliver the best outcomes for New Zealanders.
    • Allana Coulon, Managing Director at Martin Jenkins – As the Managing Director at consulting firm, MartinJenkins, Allana is responsible for providing internal leadership, managing the Firm’s corporate services team and overseeing the delivery of internal initiatives that enable the Firm to better live to its purpose and values. A specialist in organisational performance and design, Allana’s role also involves working with senior leaders across the public sector to improve performance and respond to change. Allana keeps people and relationships front of mind, enabling individuals, teams, and organisations to realise their potential. Some examples of her work include developing a 5-year workforce strategy with the Ministry for the Environment to support them in their role as a system leader, supporting the establishment of Te Arawhiti, reviewing the operating model of the Commerce Commission to help them become more outcome-focused.
    • Jono Weir, Director of the Office of the Deputy Secretary Policy at the Ministry of Justice – The first half of Jono’s career was in the oil, gas and minerals exploration and development sector. As a geologist, Jono ran exploration projects in New Zealand, Australia, and was later involved in operations across South East Asia and the USA. Jono transitioned into the public sector through a series of regulatory and investment attraction roles. Highlights of his public sector experience include helping to establish the NZ Space Agency, implementing the 2017 Government decision to end offshore oil and gas exploration and leading the design of a legal recreational cannabis market for the 2020 referendum. Jono now works in a cross-group role to help deliver the functions of the Ministry of Justice policy function and is passionate about strengths based leadership, reducing inequities in the justice system, and improving outcomes for all New Zealanders.