Red X iconGreen tick iconYellow tick icon

Operations Divisional Office

Stephen Willis

Chief Operating Officer

Stephen Willis image 2019 Stephen has been the Chief Operating Officer for the University of Otago since April 2016.

As the Chief Operating Officer ( COO ) Stephen provides strategic leadership, planning and management across the University's operational functions and capital developments.

Stephen leads a team of Directors and Heads responsible for Campus and Collegiate Life Services, Property and Campus Development, Information Technology Services, Sustainability, Enterprise Project Management, Health and Safety Compliance, Transformation and Improvement, Divisional Services and Administration, Corporate Records and Risk, Assurance and Compliance Services. The capital programme Stephen's portfolio is responsible for is circa NZ$1 billion.

Stephen relocated to New Zealand in 2015 for personal and professional reasons and after 8 months as the Manager of Capital Projects was appointed as the COO of the University.

Prior to New Zealand, Stephen had a long history with Mater Health Services Brisbane – one of Australia's largest, oldest and most esteemed health care companies – a privately owned and operated not-for-profit organisation providing healthcare, research and education services.

During his tenure he delivered the largest capital program in the organisation's history and some of its most strategic projects. Prior to departing Australia Stephen was the senior Director of Built Environment in which he was responsible for a range of diverse departments and services that supported and provided amenity and security for the 7 hospitals, 7,000 plus staff and millions of visitors each year. This involved a $1.3 billion+ property and asset portfolio over several campuses, a major capital works program of several hundred million dollars and all the ancillary businesses and services typical of major hospital campuses.

Prior to making a move into the world of Capital Works, Property and Support Services, Stephen spent several years working in a number of positions as a Clinical Project Officer, Hospital Nurse Manager and Registered Nurse throughout Australia and overseas, and prior to that served in the Australian Army.

Stephen holds a Master's Degree in Project Management, a Master's Degree in Health Science majoring in Health Service Management, an Advanced Diploma in Project Management and a Bachelor of Nursing with Distinction.

In 2013 Stephen was awarded a Commendation Award in Business and Law from the University of Southern Queensland and in 2002 was awarded the Ian Brand Prize from the Australian College of Health Service Executives for achieving the highest grade point average ( GPA ) in a Masters of Health Services Management in Australia.

Stephen is a Member of the Institute of Directors New Zealand, the Australian Institute of Project Management ( AIPM ) and is a previous Executive Committee Member of the Australian Healthcare Design Council and previous Board Member of Ronald McDonald House South Brisbane.

Tel +64 3 479 4033
Office 1.31, First Floor Clocktower

Nadya Shaw Bennett

Executive Officer to the Chief Operating Officer

Nadya Shaw Bennett image Nadya provides the Chief Operating Officer with high-level strategic support and advice to ensure the efficient and effective management of the Operations Group of Divisions.

In her role, Nadya has strategic oversight of the Office of the Chief Operating Officer, working closely with the Directors and Heads of Offices & Divisions making the up the Operations Group.

Nadya also provides governance support to the Strategic Emergency Management Group.

Tel +64 3 479 4033
Mob +64 21 279 4033
Office 1.31, First Floor Clocktower

Bronson Blackbourn

Executive Assistant to the Chief Operating Officer

As Executive Assistant, Bronson provides high-level confidential executive administration and support and is the first point of contact for the Office of the Chief Operating Officer. In his role, Bronson manages the Chief Operating Officer’s appointments, meetings, correspondence, and engagements, while working closely with the Executive Officer to support the ongoing work of the Operations Group of Divisions. He also provides governance support to the Asset Management Committee.

Bronson joined the University in September 2023, having previously worked in the community health and government sectors.

Tel +64 3 556 6296
Office 1.31, first Floor Clocktower

Mark Brunton

Senior Strategic Advisor, Māori

Mr Mark Brunton (Ngāi Tahu, Kati Mamoe, Waitaha), is the Senior Strategic Advisor, Māori in the Operations Group of Divisions. His role has responsibility for leading the group's implementation of the Māori Strategic Framework and coaching its leaders in applying Te Tiriti o Waitangi, rangatiratanga, tikanga, and kaitiakitanga.

Mark has more than 20 years’ experience in the computing industry in operations, software development, systems analysis and website design, development and management, and has previously held various roles with Databank, AgResearch, the Dunedin City Council and Otago University.

He has completed a Bachelor of Arts degree, Postgraduate Diploma in Commerce and a Masters in Indigenous Studies at Otago.
Mark is also the professional staff representative on the University Council.

Mob +64 21 279 8599
Office 1.31, First Floor Clocktower

Office of Transformation and Improvement

Jared Hayes


Jared leads the Transformation and Improvement (T&I) Office. The Office is responsible for the continuous improvement of business processes, and the delivery of large, high change impact programmes of work.

The T&I office:

  • enhances the quality and robustness of business case processes
  • supports the development of the Operations Group strategy
  • helps define our programmes of work

Jared has worked in the Higher Education sector for over 10 years in a variety of operational, strategic planning, and project roles.  He joined the University of Otago in 2013 as the HR information systems manager. In 2016 he moved to a Programme Director role where his responsibilities included managing a significant 5-year programme of work focused on transforming the University's support services operating model. Along with implementing significant organisational structure changes, this also encompassed the delivery of numerous information technology, space and process improvement projects to fully embed the new model.

Jared holds a PhD in Information Science from the University of Otago and has several programme/project management qualifications. Jared moved to his current role in November 2023.

Mob +64 21 279 4153
Office 1.31, First Floor Clocktower

Wendy O'Connell

Administrator supporting Head of Transformation and Improvement

Mob +64 27 224 8207

Office of Risk, Assurance and Compliance

Mark Cartwright


Mark Cartwright image As Head of Risk, Assurance and Compliance, Mark is responsible for leading the risk management, internal audit, and legislative compliance functions across all facets of the University's business, including its academic, research, administrative, project, and commercial activities. He brings to the role a depth of experience in both the financial, local government, health, and higher education sectors.

Risk, Assurance and Compliance website

Mob +64 21 279 1337
Office 1.44, First Floor Clocktower

Office of Sustainability

Ray O'Brien


Ray O'Brien Ray stepped into the role of Kaiwhakahaere o Tiotū Taiao | Head of Sustainability at the start of 2020.

As the Head of Sustainability, Ray provides leadership and strategic direction for the Sustainability Office. The role involves the linking of activity across operational and academic areas, in order to weave sustainable practice into all that we do. This work is guided by the University's Sustainability Strategic Framework.

Ray leads a team working on greenhouse gas emissions, student engagement, and communications.

Ray relocated to New Zealand in 2005 from the UK where he had worked for the military developing leadership through adventure activities. Since then he has worked in tourism, primary, secondary, and tertiary education. Most recently, he worked for Otago Polytechnic in a variety of learning design roles where he was responsible for the integration of sustainability into learning and teaching.

Ray holds a range of education qualification including a master's degree in education. He is currently working towards a Doctorate of Professional Practice.

Sustainability at Otago website

Mob +64 21 766 937
Office 109 St David Street

Office of Health, Safety and Wellbeing

Andrea McMillan


Andrea McMillan image 2019 Andrea McMillan has a background in workplace health and safety, having worked as a Health and Safety Manager, General Workplace Inspector and Occupational Health Nurse for Cadbury and the Department of Labour, before taking the role of Head of Health and Safety Compliance at Otago in 2001.

Health and Safety website

Tel +64 3 479 7380
Office 409 Leith Street

Julia Griffiths

Administrator supporting Director, Health, Safety and Wellbeing

Tel +64 3 479 4901

Enterprise Project Management Office

Pepijn Wyffels


Pepijn leads the University's Enterprise Project Management Office (EPMO), focused on elevating our enterprise-wide project portfolio management capabilities and providing a Centre of Excellence for project management, governance, and benefits management. Pepijn ensures that the best set of projects are in place to achieve the University’s strategic goals with optimised value for money. His expertise includes benefits management, long-term capital planning, project recovery, and quality assurance.

Since the EPMO's inception in 2018, Pepijn has been integral to its growth and maturity uplifting journey, culminating in a noteworthy P3M3 Maturity Assessment score of over 3.0 in 2021. He has worked on multiple high-profile business cases for the University and has established robust portfolio management processes and practices as the University’s Enterprise Portfolio Manager.

Before joining the University of Otago, Pepijn served as a project management consultant in the Otago region. Originally from Belgium, his background spans numerous multinational organisations, including experiences in fast-moving consumer goods, industrial waste management, dairy, and food production. Throughout his career, Pepijn has held various corporate roles such as Category Manager, Sales Controller, and Operations Manager.

Besides many accreditations in portfolio, programme and project management, process improvement, and change management, Pepijn holds a Master's Degree in Bioscience Engineering (Belgium) and a Master's Degree in General Management (France).

Mob +64 21 249 4256
Office 1.31, First Floor Clocktower

Operations Group of Divisions

Cherie McConville

Director, Divisional Services and Administration

Cherie is responsible for leading the team which provides operational and strategic management support for the divisions, and administrative services across the University.

Prior to working at the University, Cherie worked in a range of leadership roles. She joined Otago in 2018 to work part-time in Health Sciences whilst completing her thesis. She then moved to her current role as Director of Divisional Services and Administration in 2020, which is the University’s largest professional workforce with staff working across the motu.

Cherie holds qualifications in Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA), an MBA, a Masters of Arts, and a Bachelor of Nursing. Cherie also lectures on the DBA programme on leadership and change.

Mob +64 21 279 6861
Office 1.31, First Floor Clocktower
2nd Floor, St David II Building

Tanya Syddall

Director, Property and Campus Development

Tanya Syddall image 2021 Tanya provides leadership, direction, and vision across the University’s property portfolio and capital works programme to deliver value through unique character and purpose of its places with a focus on campus master planning, space utilisation and managing and developing our facilities across New Zealand.

Tanya has 25 years’ experience in the building engineering and construction industry in Australia and more recently in New Zealand. She has a breadth of knowledge in delivering complex capital projects with extensive experience in the health and education sections. Tanya is passionate about connecting the WHY and the HOW in projects (why we build buildings and the journey of achieving positive outcomes), fostering better outcomes through engagement, collaboration and risk allocation, and her contribution to the wide construction industry and communities in which she works.

Tanya holds a Bachelor of Urban Development majoring in Construction Management from the Queensland University of Technology, is a certified practitioner in PROSCI and MSP Managing Success Programmes.

Campus Development website
Property Services website

Mob +64 21 279 0253
Office 111 Albany Street, Dunedin

Helen Dunn

Executive Assistant to the Director, Property and Campus Development

Tel +64 3 479 8055

Steven Turnbull

Chief Digital Officer, Information Technology Services

Steven Turnbull imageAs our inaugural Chief Digital Officer, Steven is responsible for the effective and efficient provision of information technology services to the University and for providing professional, strategic an administrative leadership in the areas of strategy, policy and innovation in the use of ICT to support teaching, research and administration.

Steven brings to the table over 23 years of experience in education technology across various roles including Network Engineer, Infrastructure Engineer, Infrastructure Manager, Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), and Chief Digital Officer. Steven has previously successfully managed his own business as a Chief Information Officer (CIO) and CISO, providing specialised consultancy services to local and national organisations.

With a tenure spanning over 25 years, Steven has been a pivotal figure in Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ), contributing significantly to emergency management strategies. This dual proficiency in education and emergency response uniquely positions him to cultivate organisational culture and lead teams in deploying innovative digital solutions through collaborative partnerships. Steven's inclusive leadership style and dedication to driving positive change continue to garner recognition, establishing him as a respected leader in his field.

Tel +64 3 556 6499
Mob +64 21 711 392
Office 51 Clyde Street, Dunedin

Natalie Reeves

Executive Assistant to the Chief Digital Officer, Information Technology Services

Tel +64 3 479 3799

James Lindsay

Director, Campus and Collegiate Life Services

James Lindsay image 2019 As Director of Campus and Collegiate Life Services, James is accountable for leading the University's extensive accommodation portfolio. His role also includes directing the University's non-core commercial operations including University Print, the Executive Residence, University Staff Club, and the University Union services, campus retail outlets, food and beverage outlets, conference and events, and hospitality services on campus.

James is responsible for assessing and developing commercial opportunities and strengthening commercial performance through the development of strategic business planning processes. James leads the delivery of the University's Collegiate and Campus life, and non-core commercial services strategy, and contributes to and maintains oversight of, the implementation and relevance of this strategy across the University.

Tel +64 3 479 8522
Office Black Sale House, 105 St David Street Dunedin

Kerri Fraser

Executive Assistant to the Director, Campus and Collegiate Life Services

Tel +64 3 479 4069

Back to top