Defence Industry Association welcomes new board members

Line of Defence Magazine - Update

New Defence Industry Association board members
Three new board members for the NZDIA.

At last December’s NZDIA Annual General Meeting, three new additions were voted in to the association’s board, including Heather Grace, Chris Edwards, and Geoff Blake, who was re-elected to the board.

“On behalf of the NZDIA, I would like to thank all the nominees for their interest in joining the Board and I look forward to collaborating with all the members in the year ahead,” stated CEO Ian Harman.

“I must also mention the NZDF, particularly Debbie Howarth, not only for their assistance at the AGM, but also for their on-going support.”

The CEO also thanked Andrew Ford for his “considerable contribution to the NZDIA and its membership” as he stepped down from his role as Chairman of the Board.

“On a personal note, I would like to thank Andrew for all his support in welcoming and guiding me into the role of CEO this year, ian wrote. “His vision and guidance was invaluable in helping keep NZDIA moving forward during this transitional period.”

The New NZDIA Board Members

Heather Grace

Heather founded the TechBiz Success Academy, and Success With Grace Ltd in 2006, an NZTE registered training provider specialised in growing successful technology businesses.

She has over 30 years’ commercial experience in the science, engineering and technology sectors.

Heather was co-founder of Technology Systems Ltd and held Sales Management, Business Development, Network Management and General Management roles with Bayer NZ, Downer and Rebain International. She holds an NZCS in Chemistry, an NZIM Management Diploma and a Diploma in Workplace Psychology.

Her background provides expertise in process improvements, business growth strategies, executive leadership and talent management. She also brings international business experience in technology, manufacturing, service, distribution and supply chain management.

Heather has served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Pakiri school, Auckland Chairman and NZ President of Surface Coatings Association NZ, and Assistant General Secretary of Coatings Societies International, and she currently serves on the Board of Directors of Quantifi Photonics (since February 2018).

Chris Edwards

Having attended several NZDIA events in the past 12 months, Chris believes the board could be strengthened by a representative of the SME sector who deals primarily in the “subprime” area of defence as our business has done for many years on both sides of the Tasman.

“I believe a path for sub-prime companies like ours is important if you want to strengthen the NZDIA membership and provide demonstrable benefits for membership,” Chris stated. “New Zealand is primarily a SME supplier market, and it would be good to advocate for that part of our economy in this role.”

Chris was the first SME company owner in many years to be voted President of CBAFF (Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Federation), a role which he will step down from in May 2022. As part of that role, he gained significant experience in dealing with Government and other stake holders both in Auckland and throughout the country. 

“As I am sure you are aware, it has been a tumultuous time in the Supply Chain in New Zealand, and I have enjoyed facing the challenge of breaking down silos and working collaboratively.”

“During my time as President of CBAFF, I have also strived to increase the organisations presence in the New Zealand and International media and make business aware of the important of the supply chain to our import and export industries.”

Geoff Blake

As the Senior Program Manager New Zealand of Airbus in Australia Pacific, Geoff leads Airbus’ New Zealand aviation Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) business based in Blenheim, and provides leadership to a team of almost 250 people across the company’s Blenheim, Ohakea and Whenuapai sites.

As a qualified Chartered Accountant, his career has focussed on companies with significant production and logistics components, and he has worked within the aviation industry since joining Air New Zealand in 2005.

“After transferring to Air New Zealand’s Safe Air subsidiary in 2008, I began to focus on customer relationships, taking the logic and critical thinking processes, as well as my interpersonal skills, into our day to day and strategic interactions,” he stated.

‘The NZDF has been a part of Airbus’ (Safe Air’s) [Airbus acquired the Safe Air business in 2015] business for decades and a key part of my current role is ensuring our Strategic Partnership is truly supporting our shared purpose of “…enabling the delivery of military air operations”.

“With the NZDIA I am looking to grow the diversity of membership, including the Board composition, and am ready to share my ideas on how we all can work more efficiently and effectively with NZDF and NZ MOD.”