Stephen Town – our inaugural Chief Executive


Stephen Town – our inaugural Chief Executive

July 31, 2020 | 3 min read

It’s only a month into Stephen’s new role and along with his small team of headquarters staff, he is already confident he’s making progress. With NZIST about to release three RFPs seeking partners to develop an operating model; a capital asset management strategy; and to develop an information systems strategic plan, the move to do things differently is already well underway.

“My primary focus, as we develop a cohesive, unified and sustainable vocational education system, is to ensure learners are at the centre of everything we do. Learner success is critical for NZIST’s future success and New Zealand’s future success as well. We need to develop innovative and adaptive ways to deliver learning, not only for our current learners, but for learners of the future too,” says Stephen.  

Stephen recognises there is significant excitement and anticipation across the sector with the challenge and opportunity of what the future of vocational education can do for the country.  

“It’s a huge change programme that we’ve got to grapple with, and that’s sitting alongside the broader RoVE change programme. NZIST’s transformation is going to be complex and at times confusing and unsettling.  I see my role is to minimise confusion, maximise clarity, and make sure we take everyone with us on the journey. This is going to enable our ability to keep learners firmly at the heart of all that we plan and do.” 

NZIST’s transformation will occur over the next two and a half years. So while the network needs to continue to deliver high quality education and training during that time, the longer-term operating model will be developed alongside current operations to create a sustainable, national network of regionally accessible vocational education and training, that can be responsive to the needs of learners, industries, employers and communities in all regions of New Zealand.  

Stephen, and NZIST’s Council Chair Murray Strong are currently finalising the recruitment of six new interim Deputy Chief Executives. Work is underway to finalise the location of office space for HQ NZIST in Hamilton. They’ll be meeting with Transition ITO CEOs in the first week of August, then heading off around the country to visit NZIST’s 16 subsidiaries. They plan to talk with staff, learners, board members and local stakeholders where possible.