Board of Commissioners

Board of Commissioners

Last updated 24 August 2019
Last updated 24 August 2019

The Tertiary Education Commission (the TEC) is governed by a Board of Commissioners.

 Our Board:

  • sets our strategic direction, makes decisions about funding allocations and provides guidance on our operations
  • monitors the performance of the Chief Executive and the organisation
  • oversees management of strategic risk.

Nigel Gould, Tertiary Education Commission Chair


Nigel is a chartered accountant, with a career in management positions including managing director of a publicly listed company. He has been a Commissioner on our Board since May 2013 and is: 

  • Chair of the Civil Aviation Authority of NZ,  the Young Enterprise Trust and Destination Marlborough
  • a director of other companies.

Nigel served on the Massey University Council for 10 years, including six years as Chancellor. In 1980, he was elected to the Wellington Harbour Board and became Chair. He continued this involvement with port governance as Chair of Centreport until 2008. He is a past President of the Wellington Regional and New Zealand Chambers of Commerce.

Over the past 30 years, Nigel has established companies in the information technology, primary and exporting sectors, and has recently taken an active interest in tourism. He is a Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants and the Institute of Directors. In 2010, he was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit and awarded an honorary doctorate of commerce by Massey University.

Alastair MacCormick, Commissioner

Alastair MacCormick

Alastair has extensive experience in education and business and has been a Commissioner on our Board since June 2017. He is an Emeritus Professor of the University of Auckland, having been 14 years Dean of Business and Economics before becoming Deputy Vice-Chancellor.

Over the last 15 years Alastair has been active with innovation in New Zealand, ranging across IT, biotech and health. Currently, he chairs Photonz Corporation Limited and Caldera Health Limited.

He was appointed to the NZ Government Innovation Board on its establishment in 2011 and continues as a member of the Callaghan Innovation Grants Committee.

Christopher Mace, Commissioner


Chris has a background in business and business governance in the government, public and private sectors.

He has been a Commissioner on our Board since May 2013 and:

  • is Chairman of the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research
  • was a founding trustee of the Sir Peter Blake Trust.

Chris works closely with the tertiary sector, with a focus on marine science and research.  He chaired a support group for the redevelopment of the Marine Research Campus for the University of Auckland at Leigh.  He is a former Chair of the Institute of Environmental and Scientific Research (ESR) and Antarctica New Zealand.

In 2004, Chris was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Antarctica and the community.  In 2015, he was inducted into the Business Hall of Fame and, in 2016, made a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to science and education.  He was Maori Business Leader of the Year in 2011.

Jenn Bestwick, Commissioner

Jenn has extensive governance experience including roles at Ara Institute of Canterbury (formerly CPIT), Southern Response Earthquake Services and Development West Coast. She is a member of the NZQA Board. Jenn’s leadership of CPIT during its merger with Aoraki Polytechnic established a high-level of credibility within the tertiary sector.

She is currently an associate with the Project Office, where she provides strategic and business case development capability. She has proven experience in strategic planning and in senior strategy management roles across the health, tertiary education, natural resource management, science and research, and tourism sectors.

Phil O'Reilly, Commissioner


Formerly Chief Executive of BusinessNZ, New Zealand’s largest business advocacy group, Phil is now the Director of Iron Duke Partners Limited. He has been a Commissioner on our Board since September 2013 and is:

  • Chair of the Board of the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD
  • a member of the governing body of the International Labour Organisation
  • Chair or member of several public and private advisory boards in areas as diverse as manufacturing, exports, trade, tax, retirement, research and development, innovation, employment, child poverty, health and safety, skills, government procurement and sustainable business.

Phil and his Wellington-based team work with companies, organisations and political and other decision-makers, advocating for New Zealand’s success through sustainable economic growth. Phil chaired New Zealand’s Green Growth Advisory Group.

In 2016, he was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to business and governance.

Vanessa Stoddart, Commissioner


Vanessa  has been a Commissioner on our Board since September 2013 and is:

  • a member of the Financial Markets Authority Board
  • an independent director for NZ Refinery Limited, The Warehouse Group Limited, Alliance Group Limited and Paymark Limited
  • a board member of Global Women and on the board of Kings College School
  • BusinessNZ’s representative on the Defence Forces Employer Support Council
  • a member of DOC and MBIE’s Audit and Risk Committees.

Vanessa was also previously a member of the Better Public Services Advisory Board and Chair of the Otago University Business School Advisory Board.  Before her governance career, for nearly 10 years, Vanessa was Group General Manager of People at Air New Zealand and, in later years, Technical Operations. Before that, she was Chief Executive at Carter Holt Harvey Packaging Australia.

Vanessa is a member of both the Australian and New Zealand Institute of Directors and an honorary fellow of the Human Resources Institute of New Zealand. She is also a Companion of the Institute of Professional Engineers New Zealand. 

Vivien Sutherland Bridgwater,  Commissioner

Vivien is an independent consultant specialising in brand strategy, change management, partnership development and strategic advocacy.

She has a strong background in senior management and governance, holding roles at Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) and Auckland University of Technology.

She also helped set up Mai FM.

John Russell

John has three decades worth of experience as a secondary principal and has a great deal of knowledge about the transition from school to training and employment. He is passionate about the role of TEC.

Throughout his career in educational leadership John has been committed to achieving equity and excellence for all, with a particular focus on raising Māori achievement and building whole community capacity.

John has an ongoing role with Evaluation Associates, where he works with principals on strategic leadership and capacity building, developing culturally responsive teaching practice, and robust appraisal practices.

John spent 29 years as a secondary principal at Mana College, Kāpiti College and most recently Naenae College. He retired as principal of Naenae College in 2017.

John was the 2016 Kiwibank | Metlifecare Senior New Zealander of the year, in recognition of his contribution to the Naenae Community and to education.

Nancy McConnell

Nancy has worked extensively across the construction, infrastructure and property industries, and has led initiatives focusing on empowerment through education, particularly improving success for Māori and Pacific people.

Nancy has worked extensively in external and internal communications leadership across the construction, infrastructure and property industries.

She has been part of corporate leadership teams, established, directed and managed a public relations and communications business. She is part of a number of governance boards, primarily public-private partnerships focused on raising employment, training and learning outcomes for Māori and Pacific people.

Nancy leads Hawkins (part of Downer NZ) community initiatives which focus on empowerment through education, particularly improving success for Māori and Pacific people.