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Leadership

 Contact is led by an experienced and diverse board and leadership team who are committed to our customers, communities, shareholders and people.

Meet our Board of Directors

Rob McDonald

Independent Non-Executive Director

Term of office: Appointed director 12 November 2015, last elected 2017 annual meeting.
Board committees: Member of the Audit Committee

Rob’s finance career spans over 30 years, having worked overseas before joining Coopers and Lybrand in the corporate advisory and valuations practice in 1985. He is a director of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand and Sovereign Assurance Company Limited, and was formerly the chief financial officer with Air New Zealand. From 1 September 2018 he will be a director of Fletcher Building Limited. He is a former board member of the Institute of Finance Professionals New Zealand Inc. and the former vice chairman of the IATA Financial Committee. Rob has a Bachelor of Commerce from Auckland University and in 1999 completed the Program of Management Development at Harvard Business School. He is a Fellow of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand.

Victoria Crone

Independent Non-Executive Director

Term of office: Appointed director 12 November 2015, last elected 2017 annual meeting.
Board committees: Member of the Health, Safety and Environment Committee and member of the Remuneration and Nominations Committee

Victoria has over 20 years’ experience in the communications and IT sectors. Her experience spans from start-ups to mature products across consumer, small business and enterprise sectors. She is chief executive of Callaghan Innovation and chair of Figure.NZ. A former managing director of Xero New Zealand, Victoria also held senior management roles in sales and marketing at Chorus and Telecom. She is a passionate kiwi and a member of NZ Global Women. Victoria holds a Master’s degree in Commerce and Administration (Marketing and Management) from Victoria University.

Whaimutu Dewes

Independent Non-Executive Director

Term of office: Appointed director 22 February 2010, last re-elected 2016 annual meeting.
Board committees: Chairman of the Health, Safety and Environment Committee and member of the Audit Committee

Whaimutu Dewes is of Ngati Porou and Ngati Rangitihi descent and lives in Gisborne. He is the chairman of Aotearoa Fisheries Limited and Sealord Group Limited. His former directorships include the Treasury Board, Housing New Zealand Board, Television New Zealand Limited and the AMP New Zealand Advisory Board. Whaimutu has also held senior management roles at Fletcher Challenge and the Department of Maori Affairs. Whaimutu has a Master’s degree in public administration and degrees in arts and law.

Elena Trout

Independent Non-Executive Director

Term of office: Appointed director 3 October 2016, last elected 2016 annual meeting.

Board committees: Member of the Health, Safety and Environment Committee

 

Elena is an experienced company director and a professional engineer who has held a number of leadership positions in the transport, infrastructure and energy sectors. She has over 30 years of experience in the management, planning and delivery of large projects. She is a director of Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority, Harrison Grierson Holdings Limited, Marsden Maritime Holdings Limited, Ngapuhi Asset Holdings Company Ltd and a Council member of Unitec. Her former directorships include Electricity Authority and Transpower New Zealand Limited. She is a Past-President of Engineering New Zealand with a membership status of Fellow and is a chartered member of the Institute of Directors. Elena holds a Master's of Civil Engineering degree from Canterbury University.

Dame Therese Walsh

Independent Non-Executive Director

 
Term of office: Appointed director 1 September 2018
Board committees: Chairman of the Audit Committee
 
Dame Therese is currently Chairman of TVNZ, and a Director of Air NZ and ASB Bank.  She is also a Board member of Antarctica NZ, a Trustee of Wellington Regional Stadium, and Pro-Chancellor of Victoria University.  Previously she was the Head of New Zealand for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, and the Chief Operating Officer for Rugby New Zealand 2011 Limited. She has also been a Director of NZX Limited, NZ Cricket and Save the Children NZ, CFO at the New Zealand Rugby Union and part of the team that worked on the winning bid to host RWC 2011. Prior to this she was an auditor at KPMG.  Dame Therese is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and a commerce graduate from Victoria University. In 2013, she was named the inaugural supreme winner of the Women of Influence Awards and was awarded a Sir Peter Blake Trust Leadership Award in 2014. She became a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in June 2015.

David Smol

Independent Non-Executive Director

Term of office: Appointed director 1 October 2018
Board committees: Member of the
Health, Safety and Environment Committee 

David has over thirty five years of work experience, including in the energy sector in the UK and New Zealand, for Conoco UK Limited, Electricity Corporation and ILEX Energy Consulting.  He was part of the Contact Energy establishment team in 1995-1996 and a member of the team that developed the rules for the New Zealand electricity market. In 2008 David was appointed as chief executive of Ministry of Economic Development and, from 2012-2017 was the inaugural chief executive of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), following the merger of four government departments. David has an M-Phil in economics from Cambridge University and was made a Companion of the Queen’s Service Order in 2018.

Meet our Leadership Team

Dennis Barnes

Chief Executive Officer

Dennis Barnes was appointed Chief Executive Officer in April 2011. Prior to joining Contact, he was General Manager Energy Risk Management at Origin, based in Sydney. Dennis started with Origin in 1998 and over that time has led sales, systems development, gas trading and generation operations departments. Dennis has guided Origin's significant and expanding operations in wholesale markets. Before that, Dennis worked in a number of positions operating in international energy markets, including managerial roles at Scottish and English electricity companies.

Venasio-Lorenzo (Vena) Crawley

Chief Customer Officer

Vena joined Contact in October 2014 in a newly created role  of Chief Customer Officer. Vena oversees all of Contact's functions that have been aligned to build the delivery of a best in class customer experience through our Retail, Commercial and Industrial channels, these include;  marketing, sales, product and services management, retail operations and metering, customer insight, pricing, networks and reconciliation, LPG cylinder delivery, performance management and business intelligence and customer change.

James Kilty

Chief Generation & Development Officer

Appointed to the newly created role of Chief Generation & Development Officer in October 2014, James is tasked with managing our commercial end-to-end activities of development, fuel, generation and trading. In 2013 James was appointed General Manager, Sales and Customer Experience,  in addition to his role of General Manager, Trading Development and Geothermal Resources. James was previously Contact's General Manager, Generation Development.

Tania Palmer

General Manager, People and Safety

Tania was appointed General Manager of People and Safety in 2017. She was previously Contact's General Manager of Health, Safety and Environment and has held other senior positions at Contact. Prior to joining Contact she was director of a successful HR Consultancy, where she led projects for clients within the energy, science and research, manufacturing, retail, arts, financial services, non-profit and government sectors. Tania has also held senior human resources and training management roles in banking, the food manufacturing and export sector, and the military.

Catherine Thompson

General Manager, External Relations and General Counsel

Catherine leads Contact’s media, corporate reputation, regulatory and government relations, legal and company secretarial functions. Catherine joined Contact in 2010 and in addition to her legal practice has been responsible for the regulatory and government relations function at Contact for a number of years. Prior to joining Contact Catherine spent 10 years in London practising energy law both in private practice and in an in-house corporate environment.