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.

Graham Cockroft Chief Financial Officer

Graham Cockroft was appointed as Contact Energy's Chief Financial Officer in June 2012.  Prior to this he spent three years as Contact's Chief Operating Officer in which he was responsible for the operation of Contact's wholesale and generation functions, including generation development. Before joining Contact, Graham worked for nearly two decades for BG Group in senior strategy, business development and operational roles. Most recently, Graham was BG Group's Asset General Manager based in São Paulo, Brazil. He holds a Master of Commerce from the University of Otago, and a Master of Finance from the London Business School.

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. Vena joined Contact from IAG UK where he held the role of Group Director of Strategy, Marketing and Reputation.  Prior to this, Vena was Executive General Manager, Marketing and Reputation at IAG NZ, which followed 10 years with ABG Bank Group / Sovereign as Head of Marketing, Strategy & Product Management ASB Group / Sovereign. The earlier years included roles in FMCG, Advertising, Telco, Retail and Export.

Vena holds an EMBA and BA from Steinbeis University – The Berlin School of Creative Leadership.

Michael Dreyer Acting General Manager, Information and Communication Technology

Michael was appointed Acting General Manager Information and Communication Technology in November 2016. Michael was previously the Head of Planning and Delivery for Contact's technology and change portfolio. He joined Contact in 2008 after 8 years away in Europe where he held programme delivery roles in the legal, telecoms, transport and marine industries. Michael holds a Master of Forestry Science from Canterbury University.


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. He has also held senior management and legal roles with New Zealand Post and Buddle Findlay. He has significant experience in commercial negotiations, dispute resolution, financing, securities market work and the construction sector. James was awarded Young Energy Executive of the Year at the 2011 Deloitte Energy Excellence Awards in recognition of his work at Contact Energy and contribution to the energy sector.

Tania Palmer General Manager of Health, Safety and Environment

Tania was appointed General Manager of Health, Safety and Environment in September 2013. She was previously Contact's Head of Performance, Rewards & Employment Relations where she led all reward, performance management, employment relations, talent and change management processes. 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 was appointed General Counsel in November 2014 and oversees Contact's legal and governance team, having previously held the roles of Head of Regulatory Affairs and Government Relations, and Senior Legal Counsel at Contact. With 20 years' legal experience within New Zealand and internationally, Catherine is an experienced corporate lawyer. Catherine spent 10 years in London practising energy law both in private practice and in an in-house corporate environment before returning to NZ.

Catherine holds a Bachelor of Law (Hons) and Bachelor of Commerce from Otago University and is admitted to practice as a Barrister and Solicitor in New Zealand and as a Solicitor in England and Wales.