Written by Rebecca Savory
It’s been seven years since Greg Orchard went through the Leadership NZ Programme and he still has no doubt what he learnt influences him every day.
Entering the Programme at the beginning of 2007, Greg was working for Housing New Zealand, feeling restless and ready for change. By the end of the year he had moved to a new role at the Wellington City Council to assist with a $400 million renewal of their social housing.
‘‘I had had my time and it was now time for others to move the organisation forward,’’ he said.
‘‘I was somewhat restless and looking for a different challenge. In fact, it was probably for similar reasons that I attended the Leadership NZ Programme.”
For Greg, the year-long leadership Programme exposed him to a wide range of views from a broad cross-section of New Zealanders.
“It is an environment where your opinions and thinking, and those of others are tested. The year builds to paint a rich inter-connected picture of New Zealand now, its potential futures and the role you can play,” he said.
“Ultimately Leadership NZ has made me think more broadly about New Zealand and the issues we face. Hopefully, this has shaped my influence of others by being more open to different approaches and perspectives, and providing opportunities to be heard while respectfully adding my knowledge to the pool.”
Greg said the year provided him with a broad understanding of the country, bringing together people from across New Zealand with their varying opinions, stories and experiences. This has directly assisted him with his work in social housing, helping to identify often complex local and national issues as well as opportunities the country may have.
“It is often at a local level that these issues and opportunities play out whether they be youth employment, economic or climate change responses.”
However, the most important thing Greg learnt from the Programme was the importance of diversity.
“Not simply the tolerance of diversity but its celebration and encouragement. We were a diverse group of people with very different roles, backgrounds and worldviews.
“We were also exposed to a diverse range of views and aspirations from the various speakers we engaged with. This diversity is one of the strengths on the Programme.
“Bringing this diversity to the table enriched the pool of knowledge and enhanced for each of us our understanding of the issues.”
Greg was already working to help communities with Housing New Zealand before the Programme, however, has thrown himself into an extensive amount of involvement beyond his day job since 2007 with housing councils and boards.
He is on the NGO board of Accessible Properties, managing a portfolio of more than 1,100 properties specialising in the disability sector; as well as the Australasian Housing Institute, supporting the housing profession across New Zealand and Australia.
He is also chair of the University of Canterbury Quake Centre, training and teaching both professional and potential engineers, using Christchurch’s recent history to inform their research and recommendations for the future.
Greg has worked with Government as part of a group looking at solutions for people with non-weather-tight homes and as part of group looking at improving the National Building Consent System.
He had been in the executive leadership team at the Wellington City Council since the end of 2007 and was appointed to the role of Chief Operating Officer in August, 2013. Working in a number of leadership positions, Greg has a proactive leadership style which has only been encouraged by the Programme. He leads people in a profession he is passionate about and from within organisations. “Lead now from where you stand. Don’t wait to be asked. Work out what you stand for, step up and lead,” he said.