Shenagh Gleisner - A Woman of Many Colours

Three things you probably don’t know about IPANZ Executive Director Shenagh Gleisner:

  • She has tertiary qualifications in anthropology, social work, science, social policy, public policy, health economics and Maori studies. (She is also a qualified piano teacher!)
  • She moved from her native UK to New Zealand to settle in Thames 33 years ago, drawn by the richness of New Zealand's culture
  • She has four children, three stepchildren and five grandchildren. Every ten years they have a 10 day family gathering in Europe and there are now 32 of them!

Shenagh joined IPANZ as Executive Director just a year ago, with a drive to inspire public sector professionals and connect them with thought provoking ideas, and a deep passion for improving the wellbeing of New Zealanders.

“I really love this country and everybody deserves to thrive. So I want people to feel included and involved and contributing because that is crucial for individual and community wellbeing.

After Shenagh and her husband packed up their (then) three children and a box of play things to travel the world in the late 80s, she says New Zealand took their hearts — for its beauty, the sense of community and the Maori culture.

She started her career in New Zealand in public health before consulting with KPMG (becoming a Director) then moving into a number of central government leadership roles and executive leasing working in multiple sectors, including the not for profit sector — before coming to IPANZ.

Shenagh says it’s hard to pick a favourite role or two from her career — which has given her opportunities to travel rural New Zealand designing and delivering mental health services, to influence important projects in a broad range of organisations as a KPMG consultant, and to go into executive roles in organisations and immerse herself for months on end as an independent consultant.

“It’s like when I guide visitors in Zealandia and see all the birds, I’ll see one and I think that is my favourite, and then another and I think no that is my favourite!  In each stage of my career, in each job, I thought it was wonderful and I was so lucky.”

Her experience in the private sector taught her valuable lessons about things like agility, customer service, dispersed team work and strategy, which she has been able to bring back into the public sector. And, she says, her broad experience adds up to insights into different people, groups, sectors, and the whole system, and seeing the value that each one brings.

“Because I have been in all those different places, I really value the contribution of each sector and each agency — it makes me see how everyone contributes.”

She is excited to apply all of those skills at IPANZ to help inform and inspire public sector professionals, and ultimately contribute to the wellbeing of all New Zealanders.

“How fortunate I am to immerse myself every day in the fascinating subject of public administration.”

Alongside IPANZ, Shenagh continues to serve on a number of Boards and advisory roles in government and not-for-profits. And in her ‘spare time’ she can be found volunteering at Zealandia, playing tennis or the piano, or delighting in spending time with her grandchildren.