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ANZSOG’s Executive Fellows Program gives Georgina Roberts deeper understanding of her leadership

28 February 2022

News and media


Image of Executive Fellows Program alumni Georgina Roberts speaking


It was one of the proudest moments of Georgina Roberts’ life – the moment in 2014 that she told her mother she’d been appointed as Aotearoa New Zealand’s High Commissioner to Vanuatu.

“That was my first High Commissioner job and it was one of my greatest joys to share that news with my mother. I want to make my whānau and parents proud and, when I do my work, in my mind, I also represent them,” says Georgina.

“My mother was delighted and a little overwhelmed at the news. She is no longer with us but I had postings in London, South Africa and Vanuatu and my mother visited me in all those postings.”

Until November 2021, and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Georgina was High Commissioner to the Solomon Islands. At the end of 2021, she returned to Wellington as a Divisional Manager at the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade.

Ever since she graduated with a History degree, Georgina, who grew up in a small Māori community on the North Island, has worked in the public service. But it wasn’t the career path she initially thought she would follow.

“I had strong and influential teachers in my primary years and I thought I’d be a teacher. But for some reason, when the time came, I didn’t apply for teacher’s college. Instead I went to university in Wellington and then joined the public service which has given me many opportunities to grow and give back. It’s a very honourable and rewarding career path,” says Georgina.

She has had a number of roles that have seen her involved in Te Tiriti o Waitangi claims and Māori development and indigenous issues. She has worked at National Archives, the Waitangi Tribunal and Te Puni Kokiri before joining the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

In her most recent overseas posting as High Commissioner to Solomon Islands, Georgina promoted and built political, economic, social and cultural partnerships between Aotearoa New Zealand and the Solomon Islands.

“I arrived in January 2020 and so how I fulfilled my role as High Commissioner changed in late March. We had to adjust and respond to an evolving set of circumstances and it was important to support our staff who felt the impacts of border closures, including those who were not able to travel home.”

During her 20 years with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade, Georgina has been able to live in different parts of the world and work on bilateral, regional and thematic matters.

She has accrued a wealth of insights and experience but in early 2021, Georgina decided to study with ANZSOG to increase her understanding of the intricacies of the public service.

She completed the Executive Fellows Program (EFP) which challenges senior public sector executives to develop new leadership perspectives and explore contemporary issues such as the COVID-19 crisis response and climate change.

“I had the course on my radar because I wanted to stretch myself, develop my own understanding of who am I as a leader and my leadership approach and to refine my consideration of my value proposition as a leader,” says Georgina.

“The things that the presenters discussed still sit with me and the program design emphasised issues that I’ve been interested in, such as the relevance and value of cultural competency and awareness in public service leadership.”

Working in the leadership development challenge groups and considering issues with her cohort was also a rewarding experience.

“It’s a constructed opportunity to engage with people who I might not come across in my normal working life. You consider different perspectives and engage on an issue that is new to you, or you get a more objective view on something you’ve been too focused on. You hear different voices to help you consider things from a different angle,” says Georgina.

“One of the reasons I wanted to do the course was to step outside my normal operating environment and engage with people at a similar level in leadership and management who also wanted to expand their understanding, awareness and leadership horizon. I wanted to develop my kete matauranga, my tool kit of knowledge and lived experience, to better equip myself as I move forward – and up – as a leader.

“One of the greatest outcomes of the course has been developing a closer working relationship with a colleague who was also on the course. We went through that learning journey together and are now sharing what we both learned with others.

“I’ve been a public servant for many years and I want to continue to serve in senior leadership roles across the public service in New Zealand. It has been a very rewarding career path for me.”

Find out more about ANZSOG’s Foundation Programs

Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA)

A part-time postgraduate qualification developed and delivered by ANZSOG exclusively for high-performing public sector managers.

Executive Fellows Program (EFP)

A program that challenges senior public service executives working in the public domain to develop new leadership perspectives in a contemporary and highly interactive setting.

Towards Strategic Leadership (TSL)

A unique program that helps public service leaders develop the qualities needed to thrive in a senior executive role: a strategic outlook, political astuteness, personal resilience and the ability to reflect and learn continuously.

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