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 10 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, Back Country Foods Ltd, Calvary Hospital Southland Ltd, NZ Sires Stakes Board and the Southland Chamber of Commerce plus chairing the Assurance & Risk Committee for NZ Customs.
He has been active in the Southland Regional Development (SoRDS) programme over recent years and is a member of the SoRDS Technical Advisory Group plus 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.
John was appointed to Community Trust South in 2017 and to the Invest South Board in 2018 as one of two Community Trust representatives. While originally from Gore, he now lives in Riverton.
John had a long involvement with the Mataura Licensing Trust, spanning over 39 years of which he was the General Manager for 29 years.
Stephen was appointed to the Invest South Board as Community Trust South representative in 2015 and lives in Invercargill.
He is an Authorised Financial Advisor and is the principal of Mitre Wealth Management. He is a Certified Financial Planner and has a Bachelor of Commerce from Otago University and a Postgraduate Diploma (Personal Financial Planning) from Waikato University.
A Fellow Chartered Accountant, Fellow of Financial Advice NZ and Associate Fellow of the NZ Institute of Management, Stephen also has a range of community involvements being Chairman of Southland disAbility Enterprises, a Life Member of YMCA of Invercargill and a member of the Invercargill Rotary Club.
He is a former Director of Rugby Southland, Past President of the Marist Rugby Club and the Rotary Club of Invercargill.
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.
Kevin is the Chief Financial Officer for Farmlands Co-operative based in Christchurch. His role includes responsibility for Group strategy. A farmer-owned co-operative, Farmlands supplies a wide range of agri-solutions, products and services to its 68,000 members. Kevin is experienced in executive business leadership, strategy and transformation, with a track record for delivering outcomes in complex business environments. He also sits on several external boards as an independent non-executive director.
Raised on a farm in Southland, Kevin is passionate about positioning for strategic change, particularly for the food and agri-sector given its critical role in the global food supply chain.
Prior to joining Farmlands, Kevin ran ASB Bank’s Rural-Corporate division, a national team focused on lending and agri-capital solutions for larger-scale agri businesses. He also formed and led ASB’s Agri Capital business. He has been a consultant to the Board of Westland Milk Products. Before this, he worked in Australia for 10 years and was Head of Westpac’s Direct Equity Investment Fund (formerly part of Hastings Funds Management), and before that held various Investment Director roles in the Private Equity & direct investment sector, including multiple board and board observer roles as the investor representative.
A qualified lawyer and chartered accountant, Kevin has worked in a national law firm as a commercial and tax lawyer. He began his career with PwC focusing on tax & structured finance. He holds B.Com and LL.B degrees from Otago University and a Law Masters with honours – LLM (Hons) - degree - from Victoria University. He has completed strategic management and leadership courses with Macquarie Graduate School of Management in Australia, and Stanford University in the US.
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.
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.