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Kirsten Patterson

Kirsten Patterson is the Chief Executive of the Institute of Directors. She is a qualified lawyer and a Distinguished Fellow of the Human Resources Institute of New Zealand, Co-deputy Chair of the Global Network of Directors Institutes (GNDI), Chair of the Brian Picot Ethical Leadership advisory board, and was previously Chair of the Wellington Homeless Women’s Trust. With extensive governance and leadership experience, she is actively involved in community initiatives.

A strong advocate of diversity, Kirsten Patterson was also a founding member of Global Women’s ‘Champions for Change’, a group of senior executives and directors who commit to diversity in the workplace, and a founding member of WISPA, an organisation promoting women in sport, and mentors a number of business leaders.

Steven Bowman

Steven is a seasoned Board adviser, with a great depth of experience and skill facilitating Board reviews and strategic planning process. He has held numerous senior executive, CEO and Board positions with some of the USA and Australia’s most prestigious organizations, as well as authoring and co-authoring over 14 books on governance, strategy, risk and executive leadership.

Acknowledged as a pioneer in the field of strategic awareness, Steven has built a reputation around the world as an adviser who empowers his clients by offering multiple perspectives on any given challenge.

Simpson Grierson: Invested In Your Future

It’s a promise Simpson Grierson make to their people, their clients, and Aotearoa New Zealand. Put simply, it means the best future is in helping you shape yours. Supporting your success, creating great outcomes, and investing in long-term relationships.

Simpson Grierson invests in their clients, earning trust through exceptional service, open communication, and helping them to grow and succeed.

They shape their service around specific client needs, delivering commercially-savvy legal advice while solving problems and anticipating others.
Having them in your corner means having the confidence to get on with what you do best.

Simpson Grierson has an extensive independent school client base and is at the forefront of the latest legislation changes that affect independent schools.

Simpson Grierson invests in Aotearoa New Zealand, helping to make this country one of the best places in the world to live and work.

Simpson Grierson advocates on key issues and supports New Zealand’s decision-makers in promoting the wellbeing of our communities. Their community programme seeks out partnerships and pro-bono projects that create opportunities to give back and make a positive difference in people’s lives.

Simpson Grierson: a leading commercial law firm and a proud sponsor of ISNZ

Welcome to the Independent Schools of New Zealand’s first governance newsletter. I applaud this initiative because good governance is crucial to every Aotearoa/New Zealand organisation, and school boards are no different. Both of my children have attended Independent Schools so I understand some of the challenges and opportunities you face.

Over the coming year I plan to highlight and provide insight into different issues our IoD members have identified as being top of mind in 2022, but in this inaugural one I want to talk about governance a little more generally and share a little about the IoD.

The IoD is the membership body for directors in New Zealand; in a nutshell, we’re at the heart of the governance community, advocating for good governance and supporting directors and their businesses.

There’s a saying that some of you may have heard before – “School is a building which has four walls with tomorrow inside”. The same can also be said of boardrooms.

People are often surprised to hear that half of our over 10,000 IoD members have a not for profit role helping a charity, a school board of trustees, or their local sports club. Good governance is needed and happens everywhere. Stronger boards, and those with integrity and passion, lead to stronger businesses – whether that’s a listed company or an independent school.

The IoD website ( contains a fabulous not-for-profit governance hub named For Passion and Purpose, where you will find guides and templates about the essentials of being a director as well as other resources and materials. I’m often told, “but schools are different”. Trust me, it’s well worth a visit.

What is a board’s purpose? Put simply, directors are responsible for the strategic and overall direction of organisations, not day-to-day operations. Working on the business and not in it.

And what makes a good director and a great board? Well, in my experience, the best are future-focused, flexible and adaptable. They are ethical and honest. They are creative, and savvy enough to protect value. They are socially aware and ready to speak up for what is right, equitable and fair. They are environmentally conscious.
All directors should know how to read financials and budgets, and know how to oversee risk. They will think strategically,  and stay up-to-date and current, scanning the horizon for new developments in, for instance, the education or technology sector. Always learning, and always on duty.

Professionalisation of director standards, increasing director liability, and the push for greater and greater transparency and accountability are dominant trends we can only expect to continue. And, of course, all good directors will have an appetite for learning and acquiring new knowledge.  How apt is that for members of a school board?

By their nature boards must also be diverse – they are of course a recognition that we need a collective of people and skills to best lead the organisation and not just one person in charge. I hope it goes without saying that any board diversity conversation is not purely a gender issue. The imperative is how to get different perspectives around the board table.

The IoD has a Getting on board with diversity guide — a resource for boards detailing how to take an active, conscious and thoughtful approach to support diversity in their boardroom and organisation to help support you on this journey.

Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari he toa takimano
My strength is not that of an individual but that of the collective.

Governance, well-delivered — can be transformational. As leaders and directors, our decisions are far-reaching. They impact our respective organisations but more broadly, they impact our communities and our Aoteraroa/New Zealand.
Thanks for taking the time to read this insight into the IoD.  I look forward to continuing our conversation in future newsletters.

Kirsten Patterson - Chief Executive

Institute of Directors in Aotearoa/New Zealand
Ask Kirsten Patterson a question for the next issue...

Strategy Series - What is Strategy?

All school Boards have a strategic plan. Many of them are wish lists, pet projects or a series of activities without any strategic oversight. So how do we make sure our strategic plan is actually strategic? What is this thing called strategy?

It is always fascinating to understand the genesis of words that are so familiar in our language now. The word “strategy” had its genesis in the ancient Greek word “strategos” which meant General. You can imagine the General on a hill, overlooking the environment below, weighing up all the possibilities that could happen, and then positioning resources in advance to take advantage of the environment and these possibilities…And then changing the deployment of resources when the environment and possibilities changed. (As an aside, the word “tactics” comes from the ancient Greek word “taktikós”, meaning ordering or arranging.)

Strategy is about having a clear focus on what future you are trying to create, being aware of different future possibilities, understanding the current environment, analysing what this means to your organisation, and then choosing what needs to be done based on this analysis, in advance of needing to act.
How we get there is through strategic planning.

So good strategic planning should cover all these aspects:
  1. A clear focus on the future you want (Your Vision or Purpose)
  2. Being aware of different future possibilities, (Scenarios)
  3. Understanding the implications of the current environment (SWOR analysis)
  4. Choosing the key things that need to be put in place now and over time to address the future possibilities (3 or 4 key strategies)
  5. Monitoring and changing when required (Action planning and ongoing monitoring)

Next issue: The three filters of strategy that School Boards must know...

Read more about Conscious Governance
Conscious Governance TV

2022 is set to be a busy year for employment law reform.

The Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety, the Honourable Michael Wood, recently updated us on the Government’s legislative agenda for 2022.
With that information and our employment team’s insight, the key areas of reform and timeframes that schools need to know are: 
  • Fair Pay Agreements (FPAs): FPAs are intended to be a multi-employer, industry wide form of collective bargaining providing contract coverage and compensation “floors” for workers in a particular occupation or industry. Draft legislation is expected within a month. FPA bargaining will likely first be initiated in key industries with systemically low wages. However, any union can initiate FPA bargaining if they meet a representation test (i.e. 10% of the workforce support initiation) or if they meet a public interest test (i.e. evidence shows there are issues such as low pay or bargaining power). This means the independent school sector is unlikely to be affected initially, but FPA bargaining could become a feature in the longer term. We recommend that schools consider the implications of the draft legislation (once introduced) and whether they want to make submissions on it.
  • Income Insurance Scheme: The Government has recently proposed a New Zealand Income Insurance Scheme, intended to provide compensation for a maximum period of 6 months to employees and eligible self-employed workers who are made redundant, laid off or have to stop working because of a health condition or disability. It is proposed that the Scheme will operate in a similar way to ACC, with employers and employees each paying a levy of 1.39% and these levies will be paid (and the Scheme will operate) in addition to any existing contractual redundancy compensation entitlements. Given the cost implications of this Scheme (particularly if a school already provides its staff with contractual redundancy entitlements), schools may wish to consider making submissions on the proposed Scheme. Submissions are currently open until 26 April 2022.
  • Holidays Act reform: A Holidays Act Taskforce has undertaken an extensive review of the Holidays Act 2003. Its 22 recommendations have all been accepted by the Government. A new Holidays Act is currently being drafted and the Minister says the draft legislation will be released for submissions later this year, with the Act expected to come into force in 2024. The new Act will include entirely new calculation methodologies and rules meaning schools will eventually have to update their payroll systems and processes to comply.  
  • Other matters to watch out for this year are the introduction of a new Protected Disclosures Act (which will strengthen protections for those making disclosures/whistleblowing), proposed legislation on modern slavery (focussing on the risks of modern slavery within business supply chains) and the Government’s response to concerns stemming from an MBIE Issues Paper on bullying and harassment at work.
Please contact a member of our team if you have any questions on these reforms or if you need help in preparing submissions.
Contact Simpson Grierson
Target Audience: Board Chairs, Board Members, Principals/Heads
View full programme and register here!
Friday 28 October 2022
Wellington InterContinental Hotel 

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