Category Archives: UC Strategic Vision

Latest news from the Association of Commonwealth Universities

The latest newsletter includes

  1.  A letter about the critical need for climate action and some supporting research opportunities
  2. How you can support a social media campaign #UnisForOurPlanet – download a social media kit to highlight the important work being done to tackle climate change
  3. ACU Fellowship opportunities

    “The fellowships facilitate collaboration at a distance and the creation of valuable new partnerships between member universities in different countries. From climate action to engineering, we have a wide variety of fellowships available in 2021 across different fields for ACU member university staff.”

  4.  Higher Education and the SDGs Challenge Grants – applications now open
  5. Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarships – applications now open
  6.  Help evaluate applications for ACU grants – join the selection committees
  7. Take part in the Second Global Survey on the Impact of COVID-19 on Higher Education
  8. Register for the Climate Exp0 conference
  9. Join the call for participants – a global dialogue about the digital divide in higher education

News Stories

  1. COP26: a research partnership to accelerate climate action
  2. My experience as a female leader in Higher Education
  3. The ACU Review: Dialogues of difference
  4. Climate action for women, by women: Mrs Mavis Akuffobea-Essilfie

I’d welcome knowing if this is helpful to people – do you read this blog? Do let me know.

Noho ora mai

Karen Mather  (she/her)

Pūmanawa Tangata | People and Culture

Collaborate for Change at the SDG Summit at UC – EOIs sought

Calling all activators, artists, academics, students, thinkers, community leaders and organisations!

Would you like to be a part of a two-day Summit event in Ōtautahi Christchurch at UC, focussed on connecting, learning, collaborating, and taking real action on the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?

We are now calling for Expressions of Interest from all those interested in leading a Kōrerorero (dialogue/conversation) and Action Space at the 2021 Aotearoa Sustainable Development Goals Summit at the University of Canterbury, September 2-3. The theme of this Summit is ‘Collaborating for Systemic Change’.

This SDG Summit event will predominantly be participant-led and with a strong focus on inclusion, engagement, action and innovation. With this in mind, we are looking for sessions that incorporate these values, for example (but not limited to), world cafes, fishbowl conversations, collaborative action planning and creative expressions.

The Summit event is held over two consecutive days (September 2-3) with the first day being a mixture of panel discussions, activations, workshops, activities and small-group discussions at the University of Canterbury Campus.

The second day is primarily field trips, with the opportunity for delegates to see examples of the SDGs in action around the Waitaha Canterbury region. The field trips will explore the SDGs in the City Centre, Lincoln, and the Banks Peninsula context.

We highly value inclusivity and diversity, and we welcome EOIs from a broad range of thinkers, actors, activators, provocateurs, artists and organisations.

Find the EOI form and more details here. Please note we do have a limited programme so there may not be scope to accept all EOIs. Submissions close on Friday 7 May.

Hui 2# videos

Missed our most recent online SDG Hui#2 ‘Be the Change’ last month? Check out the video recordings of the panels, workshops, lightning talks and creative moments, and get ready for the next online Hui#3: ‘Working Together for Change’ coming up on June 24.

The 2020-2021 Aotearoa New Zealand SDG Summit Series is co-hosted by the University of Canterbury and Lincoln University, with support from the Christchurch City Council and Ara Institute of Canterbury. Building on two previous SDG Summits, the 2020-2021 Series is here to take people on a journey from an individual understanding of the SDGs to collective action, under an overall theme of ‘Pathways to (Urgent) Action’.

For more information on the 2020-2021 Aotearoa New Zealand SDG Summit Series, check out the website, sign up to the mailing list, and follow their mahi on social media.

The new Digital Leadership Team at UC is taking shape!

Michael Oulsnam joined UC in October as our Chief Digital Officer. A key priority in the first 90 days for Michael has been forming a new Digital leadership team for UC, focused on being a key partner in the delivery of digital services and experience. After a busy few months of recruitment, the team is now formed and will be increasingly engaging in person and via various communication channels as we move forward.

The team is focused on mobilising some key new programmes of work whilst also balancing a significant level of operationally critical risk mitigation work, including:

  1. Facilitating the co-creation of a digital strategy for UC and the development of a digital roadmap. Co-developed with stakeholders across UC, you can learn more about how to contribute here.
  2. Quickly improving the operations management, service delivery, communications and engagement with ITS. The team are also focused on making quick changes to improve our Cyber Security maturity and working to mobilise a more significant Cyber Security Programme UC-wide.
  3. Accelerating plans to modernise and improve the Digital workplace experience at UC, including moving to Exchange online, deploying Microsoft 365 & Teams UC-wide and investing in a modern service management platform. This will transform collaboration at UC and significantly modernise and streamline processes by leveraging self-service automation.

2021 is certainly shaping up to be a very busy and exciting year, not only for the Digital team, but across the University. We are thrilled to be embarking on this journey with you.

Introducing the new team:

Michael Oulsnam, Chief Digital Officer. Mike has joined us from Air NZ, where he spent 18 years, the last two of which were in Silicon Valley, leading an innovation programme. Michael is a seasoned digital leader, experienced in leading transformation and championing modern ways of working and a modern digital enterprise operating model. (

Dana Burnett, Director of Product & Delivery. Dana is our newest member, having joined us in mid-February.  Dana was most recently at SKOPE industries where she led digital strategy and change across four global locations. Dana has extensive experience in digital leadership in local government, and also held the post of Council Programme Manager at the Christchurch City Council. (

Guy Austin, Director of Technology & Operations. Guy joined us in January of this year after a little over 19 years with ASB bank in Auckland. Working within Operations, he led a number of teams and spent the past six years driving the new agile ways of working. Guy has extensive experience leading Digital Technology Operations Teams and modern workplace experience delivery. (

Rudo Tagwireyi, Director of Cyber Security & Risk. Rudo commenced her role at Canterbury University in January 2021. Prior to this, she led Mercury’s Cybersecurity Programme and University of Auckland’s Technology Risk and Audit Programme. She has extensive experience in the delivery and operation of cybersecurity, technology risk, privacy and compliance capabilities. (

Ken Lai, Director of Architecture & Strategy, who joined us back in December 2020, but due to Covid restrictions has been working remotely from Melbourne. Ken worked for Deakin University in Melbourne, where he led their digital maturity through three Digital Strategies spanning eight years. The team are excited for him to be joining us on the ground in Christchurch from 24 March. (

If you have any questions, would like to contact anyone from the team or have them join your department meetings to talk about Digital @ UC, please feel free to connect.

Developing a Digital Strategy Together

Kia ora koutou,

Under the leadership of the Chief Digital Officer (Michael Oulsnam) and Director of Digital Architecture & Strategy (Ken Lai), the new Digital team has kicked off a program of work to co-create UC’s Digital Strategy.

Why does UC need a Digital Strategy?

There is much work to be done in defining what digital for UC will look like in the next 5 to 10 years. The technologies we need, how these will share information with each other and us, the skills our workforce need to keep delivering value and the ways-of-working we need to adopt, to name just a few!

However, working out which Digital Capabilities we need to establish, grow and maintain means we need to have a vision on how far UC takes its business digital, and the corresponding experience we will provide to our stakeholders.

A Digital Strategy wraps all these elements into a single coherent plan that provides a blueprint for UC’s digital journey over the next 5 to 10 years.

How will the Digital Strategy be developed?

The Digital Strategy will be co-created, co-designed and co-developed with stakeholders across UC, so the chances are that you will be contributing to it in some way. Co-development and co-design activities will include interviews, workshops, surveys and interactive presentations.

The work has been split into three phases – Digital Vision, Digital Experience, and Digital Capabilities & Roadmap. The program has been structured to deliver outcomes throughout 2021, leading to the Digital Strategy’s publication by the end of the year.

We’re starting work on the Digital Vision, so what is it?

When we think about digital, we often associate it with gadgets, apps, technologies, automation and robots. As a society, and that includes UC, we have benefited and will benefit significantly from digitising the many aspects of our work and personal lives. Furthermore, UC’s Strategic Vision has set a number of such digitisation objectives.

However, the real benefits from digital is much deeper. It’s where the “middleman” role is no longer needed, geography no longer plays a part, and information is readily accessible. For organisations that have embraced such digitalisations, they find themselves as enviable market leaders that operate at a global scale, advancing at a pace that competitors have difficulties keeping up with.

UC’s Digital Vision will articulate our own desired and unique balance between digitalisation and digitisation as an organisation, along with the associated market characteristics and business models. This will then lead into the next phase of work – developing the Digital Experience to realise the Digital Vision.

How can you help?

Ideally we would engage intimately with each of you. However, this will be infeasible due to time and resource constraints. Over the next two months, we will be running a series of inter-related group workshops, along with surveys and questionnaires.

We really need your help and input for this co-creation to work. So, if you’re invited to one of our workshops, please come prepared with your best digitally minded ideas. Alternately, please keep an eye out for our Digital Strategy Survey / Questionnaire and respond accordingly.

If you have any questions or concerns, please email Michael Oulsnam ( or myself (

I thank you all in advance.

Nāku noa, nā,

Ken Lai

Seeing the Change for the SDGs in Aotearoa

The first online hui of the Aotearoa/NZ Sustainable Development Goals Summit Series was held last month, attracting virtual participants and a group of inspiring speakers, who sparked conversations and connections across Aotearoa.

Co-hosted by UC and Lincoln University, the 2020-2021 SDG Summit Series focuses on how Aotearoa can implement and take action on the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The series is designed to take people on a journey; from an individual understanding of the Global Goals to how to take collective and urgent action to achieve them. This journey will take place through a series of online events and a final in-person Summit event to be held in September 2021.

Last month’s online hui was themed ‘See the Change’ and was designed to help participants gain a solid foundation and a better understanding of the SDGs. It was also an opportunity to hear from inspiring people in our communities, through lightning talks and a panel Q&A. The event was MC’d by Corban Te Aika, Kaiārahi, and the incredible speakers included;

  • 14-year-old climate activist and singer/songwriter Lucy Gray (coordinator of the Christchurch School Strike for Climate)
  • Ngāi Tahu student Tāmati Cunningham (Cashmere High School student leader and manawhenua representative for Environment Canterbury’s Youth Rōpu)
  • Raewyn Jones (WEL Energy Trust Chief Executive and Waikato Wellbeing Project Co-Chair)
  • Dr Pedram Pirnia (Special Advisor for Sustainable Development Goals, United Nations Association of New Zealand).

See Raewyn Jones speak to the collective impact happening within her community as part of her work as Co-Chair of the Waikato Wellbeing Project, below:

Following a beautiful musical performance by Lucy, the hui finished with participants breaking out into two practical and interactive workshop streams, one aimed at those new to the SDGs and one for those wishing to take them to the next level through creativity and visual story-telling.

See the entire first half of Hui#1: See the Change here:

Interested in being part of the journey with us?

The second online hui, ‘Be the Change’ is scheduled for 25 March 2021, and the third online hui, ‘Working Together for Change’ will be held on 24 June 2021.

The third and final summit will be a face-to-face event on 2-3 September 2021, with day one being held at UC. The theme of the third Summit will be ‘Collaboration for Systemic Change’ with day two featuring field trips to experience SDGs in action in and around Waitaha Canterbury.

More information on these events and how you can participate are coming soon.

What are the UN Sustainable Development Goals?

The 17 SDGs are the world’s best plan for achieving a better future for all. In September 2015, the leaders of all 193 UN member states (including Aotearoa New Zealand) adopted Agenda 2030, a universal agenda that contains the Global Goals for Sustainable Development.

Over the next ten years, countries will mobilise efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring no one is left behind.

New Zealand’s eight universities have unanimously resolved to work together and with other sectors – specifically central and local government, civil society, the private sector and youth – to show leadership in the implementation of the SDGs at a national level.

This includes a commitment to hosting a series of national summits that aim to promote, build and accelerate multi-sector action to implement the SDGs in New Zealand.

The 2020-2021 SDG Summit Series is co-hosted by the University of Canterbury and Lincoln University. This event and the ones to follow are organised with Ngāi Tuahuririri and Ngāi Tahu, as well as Pasifika communities, and involved support from the Ara Institute of Technology and the Christchurch City Council. Supporting partners also included ChristchurchNZ, SEEDS Podcast, Tourism NZ and the New Zealand National Commission for the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). Stay connected with the Aotearoa SDG Summit Series via their website, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and by signing up to the mailing list here.