Our Board is comprised of experienced directors who collectively cover a diverse range of industries and experience and are available to introduce companies to new skills, ideas, contacts and a potentially broader industry perspective. Our active engagement capability is underpinned by Prue Halstead. Prue works closely with management teams, helping them to define the vision, planning and execution of a company’s strategic direction as well as connecting them with other specialists who can assist with particular decisions that may be required for that direction to succeed.
Mark O’Connor has been involved in senior management roles in the NZ port sector for the past 25 years, 18 years of which he was the CEO of NZX listed company South Port NZ Ltd. A qualified accountant by background, Mark spent the first 10 years of his career working for EY including 2 years in North America.
He has secured governance experience over the past 15 years via a range of different appointments to both companies and virtual organisations. His present governance roles include operating as a director for SBS Bank Ltd, and Calvary Hospital Southland Ltd, chairing the Assurance & Risk Committee for NZ Customs plus being part of the Hawthorndale Care Village project team.
He has been active in the Southland Regional Development (SoRDS) programme over recent years and currently chairs the SoRDS Aquaculture Working Group which is focused on creating new sustainable and socially acceptable aquaculture in Southland.
Mark and his wife Pauline reside on a 10 ha. lifestyle block on which they undertake Standardbred horse breeding and offer horse riding for young people. In his leisure time he enjoys golf and mountain biking.
Ross is a Partner at McCulloch and Partners, Chartered Accountants with offices in Invercargill, Queenstown and Te Anau. Ross provides business advisory services to a wide range of clients throughout New Zealand and overseas. He is a Chartered member of the Institute of Directors, is Chairman of Platinum Villas in Queenstown and holds a number of private company directorships and Board Advisory roles.
He was a Trustee of the Community Trust of Southland until June 2018 and continues to Chair the Audit and Risk committee for the Trust.
Ross has a long involvement with the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants (now Chartered Accountants Australia New Zealand) and was President of the organisation in 2011.
Outside of business, Ross actively participates in Masters cricket having played in tournaments in South Africa and the West Indies in recent years.
Kirsty was appointed to Community Trust South in 2020 and the Invest South Board as the Community Trust Representative later that year. Kirsty is a company director and award-winning journalist, based in Te Anau. Having spent 15 years as a journalist for The Southland Times, Kirsty went on to become the first female editor of the Wanganui Chronicle in 2006.
Returning to Te Anau in 2008 Kirsty co-founded the Advocate South newspaper, created Southland’s first escape room business, Fiordland Escapes, and developed the Southland App – a digital news and information portal for Southland.
Kate is a Commercial Partner with Bank of New Zealand, based in Queenstown and working with clients in the Central Otago Southern Lakes region. She is an experienced banking specialist, providing Commercial Banking, International Trade and Cashflow expertise and solutions to businesses across a wide range of industries to help them achieve their strategy.
Kate has actively been developing her governance capabilities, completing the IOD Governance Development Programme and acting as a Board member for the Otago Southland Employers Association for 5 years.
Kate has been in the banking industry since 2004 when she graduated from the University of Otago with Commerce and Science degrees.
Jason leads a family retailing business as the fourth generation Managing Director. The business has been part of the Southland fabric since 1900, and includes seven department stores, two outdoor stores and two Mitre 10 MEGA stores (Queenstown and Invercargill). His governance role began officially in 2003 on the H & J Smith Holdings Limited Board and he then joined the Mitre 10 Board in September 2017.
He has actively sought further development through the Institute of Directors and other training opportunities, and is a passionate family business advocate, looking to the longer term for development of people and the business for the next generations to come.
Bridget Unsworth is Operations Director at the Angel Association of New Zealand, which is focused on supporting those with an active interest or involvement in the early stage investment industry. Prior to this, she was Investment Director at New Zealand Venture Investment Fund where she was involved in implementing the review of the investment programme for SCIF and the investment activity across the fund. Bridget also worked for MVision Private Equity Advisers, a placement agent based in London, raising capital for Private Equity in both the developed and emerging markets. She is currently on the board of TracPlus Global, a real-time asset tracking solutions provider. She graduated from the University of Otago with a Bachelor of Physical Education and Bachelor of Commerce.
Prue HalsteadExecutive Officer
Prue is Invest South’s Executive Officer. She works closely with management teams of investee companies, helping them to define the vision, planning and execution linked to their strategic direction. Having established a valuable regional and national network, her focus is to enable outcomes required for commercial success.
Prue has an extensive background of business development, marketing and general management experience across a diverse range of industries, working in New Zealand and overseas. She graduated with a BA Hons from the University of Otago and an LLB from Victoria University of Wellington.