Keynote Speakers

Day 1 – Tuesday 7 September

Andy Jackson – 11:30am | Frances Valintine – 12:45pm | AKO Aotearoa Panel – 2:45pm | Gillian Dudgeon – 3:15pm

Day 2 – Wednesday 8 September

Grant McPherson – 8:45am | Stephen Town – 9:15am | Dr Grant Klinkum – 10:45am | Hon Chris Hipkins – 11:30am | Tim Fowler – 2:35pm

Day 1 – Tuesday 7 September

Andy Jackson

Deputy Secretary for Tertiary and International Education – Ministry of Education Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga

Andy Jackson is the Deputy Secretary responsible for Tertiary and International Education at the Ministry of Education Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga. The Group is responsible for policy, strategy and analysis for the whole post-compulsory education and training system including regulation, funding and student financing. It is also responsible for policy on international education in schools, and the Ministry’s international engagement.  The Group works closely with partner agencies including the Tertiary Education Commission, NZQA, Education NZ, Ministry of Social Development and Inland Revenue.

Andy has a 20+ year career in public policy and operations, most of it in New Zealand. He has previously managed teams responsible for labour market, immigration and tertiary education policy at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, and the Tertiary Education Commission, where he also worked in operations. He has also worked as a Senior Analyst at the Treasury on a diverse range of issues including serving as advisor to the Treasury Secretary.

He originates from the far north of England, coming to New Zealand in 2004, where he lives with Michelle and three Wellington-born children.  He has a BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Oxford, and a Post-Graduate Certificate in Public Policy from Victoria University.

Presentation brief:

Priorities and themes in government tertiary education policy and what they mean for PTEs.


Frances Valintine CNZM

Founder & CEO -The Mind Lab & Tech Futures Lab

Frances Valintine CNZM is a passionate educator and technologist who is focused on challenging the traditional education structure and its ability to fully prepare the generations of tomorrow for the changing world. For over 20 years she has been dedicated to shifting education and business practice to develop the capabilities and mindsets needed to respond to the future of work and industry and ensure a thriving Aotearoa New Zealand.

In 2013 she founded The Mind Lab, a unique offering designed to empower students and educators to develop applied digital knowledge and capability. The Mind Lab has enabled an entire generation of teachers and educators to upskill and develop their confidence in emerging digital technologies, and to rethink the model of learning and education and support school-aged children to foster these critical skills. The immediate impact The Mind Lab has earned the organisation the title of Best Start-Up in Asia Pacific as judged by Steve Wozniak and Sir Richard Branson in 2014.

A Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her lifetime contribution to education and technology (2018), Frances has received numerous awards recognising her passion and commitment to supporting the young and more mature to seek opportunities and reach their potential. In 2020 Frances received the Outstanding Contribution to Technology and Business at the CIO Awards. Her past accolades also include:
2017: the NZ Flying Kiwi Award, inducted into the New Zealand Hi-Tech Hall of Fame and named one of the top 3 NZ Innovators of the Year the NZer of the Year awards.
2016: named one of the top 50 EdTech Educators in the World by EdTech International; awarded a Sir Peter Blake Leader Award.
2015: awarded the Westpac New Zealand Woman of Influence (Innovation) and the Next New Zealand Woman of the Year (Education)

Driven by a strong sense of purpose to support positive growth for Aotearoa, Frances also sits on the boards of Watercare and Dilworth School Trust. She is also a selection adviser to EHF (Edmund Hillary Foundation), a judge on the Hi Tech Awards, a mentor to a number of female technology leaders (in NZ and India), and a Director to On Being Bold, a platform to support and encourage emerging female leaders and year 13 students to dream big.

She holds a Master of Education Management from the University of Melbourne.

Presentation brief: The Digital Democratisation of Education

Over 2 billion students had their learning disrupted by Covid-19. Learning Institutes across the globe had to deploy rapid workarounds and adopt online solutions to respond to unprecedented education disruption.

Across Aotearoa students moved to their dining tables to learn, connect and engage. But as we look to the future how will education recalibrate to meet new expectations? Frances will explore the world of online education and digitalisation as the world shifts gears for a very different future.


Helen Lomax – Tumuaki/Director | Coming from earlier roles in Health, Corrections and Treaty of Waitangi policy, and with experience in Māori publishing and working for iwi and hapū on strategic priorities, her recent educational background spans Early Childhood, Secondary and Tertiary education across governance, research, policy and teaching systems. Helen’s roles with the TEC include oversight of work for Māori and Pasifika priority learners, adult literacy and numeracy, workplace learning, centres of research excellence and performance-based research funding.
Other highlights include judging for the Global Teaching Excellence Awards for Advance HE, UK, and projects on international quality peer review benchmarking in the Pacific region. Her areas of expertise are Management, Policy, Māori development, research and evaluation, business capability and service development.
In her current role as Director/Tumuaki of Ako Aotearoa, New Zealand’s National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence (2018-) which hosts New Zealand’s Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards and provides funding and services to build tertiary sector educational capability, she leads an organisation that holds a vital place in Aotearoa’s tertiary education sector to build a better future for tertiary learners, their whānau, communities and our country’s success.

Dr. Joseph (Joe) Te Rito – Kaihautū Mātauranga Māori (Deputy Director Māori) | Joe hails from the Rongomaiwahine and Ngāti Kahungunu tribes of the Hawke’s Bay region.  He led the establishment of te reo and tikanga Māori certificate and degree programmes at EIT for 17 years, and 30 years later he still heads the tribal radio station, Radio Kahungunu which started there as a bilingual student radio station. Joe is a certificated secondary school teacher; holds a Māori Interpreter’s Licence; and has a PhD from the University of Auckland. While there he worked for Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga (NZ’s Māori Centre for Research Excellence) for eleven years as Knowledge Exchange Manager. He has been at Ako Aotearoa for the last five years and has led the development of Māori programmes such as the Māori cultural capability online modules on Pathways Awarua (MCCP); Tapatoru, a professional standards framework designed for foundation level educators; Tiriti o Waitangi workshops and webinar series; and the Tuia Te Ako conference. 

Dr Damon Whitten  Project Lead Project Lead, ALN Effective Practice Model | Damon is a specialist provider of professional development to the tertiary sector, focusing on adult literacy and numeracy. He focuses on generating and connecting research to real-world contexts and using the results to develop effective teaching and learning approaches. His goal is to be at the forefront of adult education with the purpose of empowering and reengaging adult learners with their dreams, passions and potentials through numeracy and literacy education. 

Saylene Ulberg – Pacific Cultural Advisor | Saylene has an adult education teaching background and is currently completing a Music degree. Saylene specialises in engaging workshop participants in understanding how to engage with Pacific teaching and learning.
She has contributed to the development of the Pacific Cultural Centeredness Pathway on Pathways Awarua and continues to share talanoa on understanding and practicing effective Pacific engagement.

Presentation brief: Ako Aotearoa: ā Mātou mahi (our work) and how we support private education providers in a changing environment


Gillian Dudgeon

Deputy Chief Executive of the Delivery Directorate – Tertiary Education Commission

Gillian oversees the customer-facing unit, and leads the teams responsible for implementation and delivery of its products and services, relationship management, performance management and monitoring.

Gillian is also the TEC’s business owner for the Reform of Vocational Education (RoVE) programme and has been involved with the programme since the initial consultation in 2019. She is a member of the RoVE Programme Board which governs this transformation programme, and engages frequently with organisations, agencies and individuals on these reforms.

Gillian joined TEC in July 2018. Prior to this she spent four years with the Earthquake Commission. Gillian has also held executive roles at ANZ and the National Bank across customer-facing, product management, IT and risk management teams.

Gillian is married to Nigel and they have two children, Meaghan and Liam.

Presentation brief:

Work on the reforms continues at pace, with recent significant milestones including the formal establishment of the six new Workforce Development Councils (WDCs) and the first shifts for the Transitional Industry Training Organisations (TITOs) . Gillian Dudgeon, DCE – Delivery, at the Tertiary Education Commission, will give an update on RoVE, including the WDCs, TITOs, Regional Skills Leadership Groups (RSLGs) and the wider work across the reforms.


Day 2 – Wednesday 8 September

Grant McPherson

Chief Executive – Education New Zealand

Grant McPherson leads Education New Zealand in taking New Zealand’s education experiences to the world for enduring economic, social and cultural benefits for all New Zealand.
In response to COVID-19, Grant chairs the International Education Chief Executives’ Group. Together with peers from other government agencies with interests in international education, the group helps drive the Government’s Recovery Plan for our sector.
He also lives and breathes international education – he is an international student himself, his children have international study experience and he has hosted students in Wellington with his family.
Prior to his role at ENZ, Grant was Deputy Chief Executive and General Manager, Strategy at New Zealand Trade & Enterprise (NZTE), following extensive experience as Regional Director, South/South East Asia and Group General Manager, Business Solutions on the NZTE Leadership team. 


Stephen Town

Chief Executive – Te Pūkenga

Stephen has held executive positions for over 20 years in tertiary education, local government, and transport. He is a former Chief Executive of Auckland Council.

Previous roles include leading the Franklin District and Tauranga City Councils, and Regional Director of the NZTA in Northland/Auckland.

His first chief executive role was at Wanganui Regional Community Polytechnic in 1994, making him the youngest CE in New Zealand at the time.


Dr Grant Klinkum

Chief Executive – NZQA | Mana Tohu Mātauranga o Aotearoa

Grant joined NZQA in early 2014, and has held the roles of Deputy Chief Executive Strategic and Corporate Services and Deputy Chief Executive Quality Assurance. Prior to taking up the Chief Executive role, Grant was seconded to the Ministry of Education as Acting Deputy Secretary for Graduate Achievement, Vocations and Careers.

While working at the Tertiary Education Commission between 2007 and 2014, Grant was responsible at different times for stakeholder engagement, the Chief Executive’s office and the Tertiary Investment function. He has also previously worked as Deputy Chief Executive for an Institute of Technology, and Dean of Faculty at two tertiary education organisations.

Grant has a PhD in Political Science from Victoria University of Wellington, a Master’s degree in Education Administration from Massey University and a Master of Arts from the University of Canterbury.

Presentation brief: Micro-credentials: progress to-date and new opportunities under RoVE

Grant has worked inside executive teams at a PTE, a Polytechnic, MoE, TEC and NZQA. Grant has been a regular speaker at our annual conferences, and this year he will provide us with a deep dive into the subject of micro-credentials. 

Micro-credentials were introduced by NZQA in late 2018 and offer the possibility of supporting a more agile and relevant education and training system. Grant will address the following questions: What have been the trends and patterns of micro-credential use in New Zealand? What evidence is there at this point of positive outcomes from the introduction of a micro-credentials system? What opportunities does RoVE provide for the further development of micro-credentials? What are the international trends in the definition of and use of micro-credentials? There will be an opportunity for discussion and questions. 


Hon Chris Hipkins

Minister of Education

Chris Hipkins is Member of Parliament for Remutaka. He is Minister for COVID-19 Response, Minister of Education and Minister for the Public Service. He is also Leader of the House.

Chris passionately believes that every New Zealander deserves the opportunity to reach their full potential in life. He is a staunch advocate for and defender of our public education system. Chris believes that a free, quality education is the right of every child.

Born in 1978, Chris has worked in both the public and private sectors. Chris is passionate about the Hutt Valley, his home, a place that he believes is “bursting with energy and potential”. An outdoor enthusiast, Chris is particularly keen on mountain biking, tramping and swimming. Chris currently lives in Upper Hutt.

He attended Waterloo Primary School, Hutt Intermediate and Hutt Valley Memorial College (later known as Petone College), where he was the Head Boy in 1996. He went on to complete a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Politics and Criminology at Victoria University.

After completing his study, Chris worked in the industry training sector. Before becoming an MP he also worked at parliament, first as Senior Advisor to two Education Ministers and later in the office of the then-Prime Minister Helen Clark.

Chris entered Parliament in 2008 and became the Spokesperson for Education at the beginning of 2013. He places a strong emphasis on social justice and believes that every New Zealander should have the opportunity to reach their full potential.


Tim Fowler

Chief Executive – Tertiary Education Commission

Tim Fowler is Chief Executive of the Tertiary Education Commission, a position he has held since April 2013.  He was previously Deputy Chief Executive, Quality Assurance at the New Zealand Qualifications Authority.  Tim has held international and management positions in Australia and New Zealand in both the private and university sectors after starting his career in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. 

Tim has an Honours Degree from Victoria University, a Masters from the East-West Center and the University of Hawaii, and executive education from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and INSEAD. 

Tim is married to Louise and they have two children, Samantha and Zac.

Presentation brief: Moving forward together

The session will update on the Reform of Vocational Education and what it means for TEC, for the sector, for employers and for students or trainees, with a focus on how TEC and PTEs can work together to ensure the best outcomes for learners.