Our specialist staff

John Scandrett

Chief Executive Officer

John ScandrettPrior to stepping into The Association’s Chief Executive role in June 2009, John held various marketing and senior management positions in NZX listed companies extensively involved in manufacturing, exporting and biotechnology activities. In these capacities he spent significant periods in international markets developing new opportunities for a diverse range of New Zealand primary produce and crop protection products.

John has held establishment and guiding roles on the New Zealand venison industry’s Game Industry Board and the NZ Food and Beverage Export Council.

Through the 1990’s he spent a number of years as Director Commercial Development at The University of Otago. In that position, newly created at the time, he was responsible for intellectual property protection and commercialisation and for “start-up” company formation.

He also played a lead role in the establishment of the University’s widely-acclaimed $8.5 million Centre For Innovation.

John is “Southland born and bred”, gained his commerce degree (marketing and economics) at The University of Otago and has, for the major part of his career, undertaken his mainstream employment roles from a Dunedin location.

Diana Hudson
  LLB, CMInstD
Managing Solicitor

Diana has extensive legal and practical experience in employment law and human resources. Initially Diana worked in general practice undertaking mainly criminal, family and employment law. She has had many roles within Employers' Association having been an employment lawyer, Board Member and now Managing Solicitor. Having worked with Employers' Association as an employment lawyer from 1998 to 2001 she joined the Mainland Poultry Group as its Human Resources and Compliance Manager. She took the lead in collective negotiations for that company in Auckland and Dunedin and gained wide experience in the practical application of all aspects of employment law in a national setting. It was during this time that Diana became a Board Member for the Employers' Association. In 2008 she was invited to return to the Association as its Managing Solicitor.

A Chartered member of the Institute of Directors, Diana is currently a member of the Dunedin Kindergarten, Anglican Family Care and Otago Hockey Association Boards, President of YWCA and a past member of the Competenz Board, Employers’ Association Board and Otago Polytechnic Council. Diana is also an accredited LEADR mediator.

Rachel Brazil  LLB
Senior Solicitor 

Rachel is a senior lawyer, having specialised in employment law for over ten years.

Initially working for the Employers’ Association for 3 years, Rachel specialised in all areas of industrial relations and employment law. This included preparing employment agreements; managing incapacity, disciplinary and performance issues; negotiation of collective employment agreements; assisting businesses with restructuring and redundancy situations; privacy law/human rights issues; personal grievances; organisational reviews; Mediation, Authority and Employment Court representation.

Subsequent to this, in September 2007, Rachel took the reins of the Dunedin branch of a private practice law firm continuing to specialise in employment law, creating a successful branch of the business that continues to this day. This developed Rachel’s experience, allowing her to continue providing employment advice to small, medium and large businesses and organisations as well as providing services to employees.

Rachel is very pleased to return to the Employers’ Association and continue her work providing a wide range of employment law services, including legal representation and advice on the interpretation and application of employment law, collective bargaining and supporting employers through challenging situations they may face through the litigation process including to the Employment Authority and/or Employment Court.  

David Browne  LLB, BA, MFA, Grad Dip Tch Sec

David joined our legal team in 2014 and has a background in law, education and publishing.

He earned his law degree from the University of Otago in 2009 and was admitted to the Bar at Dunedin High Court in 2010. He gained valuable 12 month post qualification legal experience with a south Otago firm handling civil matters, including tenancy, property and employment law.

Prior to entering the legal profession David was a successful New Zealand secondary school teacher and design principal of a busy team supplying creative marketing solutions for central North Island businesses.

David hails from the state of Virginia on the east coast of the US where he was an award winning chief photographer for a busy daily newspaper. For the past 17 years has called Aotearoa home.

Kristen Gawn
  RCpN, BPhEd, PGCertHealSc
Workplace Health and Safety Consultant 

Kristen Gawn

Kristen consults in all aspects of the Associations health and safety programme, including the design and delivery of Employers' health and safety training and expert advice to our members. She has a special interest area in musculo-skeletal injury prevention.

Kristen is very skilled at the design, maintenance and modification of the health and safety programmes required by the health and safety legislation.

Kristen’s dedication and commitment to the Association’s members has earned her a formidable reputation in the health and safety industry.

Previously Kristen has held several roles as a Health and Safety Specialist for major employers and has 20 years experience within the Health and Safety industry. Kristen joined the Employers’ Association in August 2006. 

Judy Currie
  RN, Grad Dip OSH, GCTLT
Workplace Health and Safety Consultant

Judy returned to the Employers' Association after expanding her “hands-on” health and safety experience in some challenging industries including mining, electrical and civil construction.

Judy has a wide range of knowledge and experience in health and safety and wellness having had over 20 years in the occupational health and safety and public health industries. She has a practical approach.

Judy is on the leadership group for HASANZ, the Health and Safety Association of New Zealand and is past president for NZ Occupational Health Nursing. 

John Rigby

Business Development Manager

John manages our relationships with Export NZ, Business Mentors NZ and our other important business partners throughout Otago and Southland.

John has spent the majority of his career in senior management roles with some of Australasia’s largest and diverse food manufacturing companies. He has also been involved in exporting to the Middle East and the Pacific Islands.

In his various roles John has acquired skills and experience in capital project and operations management, sales and marketing, logistics, financial management and industrial relations.

He has a Post Graduate Diploma in Business Administration from University of Auckland, is an active member of Business Mentors NZ and an Accredited Assessor of candidates for CapableNZ business management qualifications.

Joanne O'Connor
 MNZIM Dip. Mgt
Training Manager

Joanne has worked, since 2001, ensuring southern businesses have easy access to a suite of professional development training opportunities and events, tailored specifically to their unique needs.

A member of the Employers’ Association team since March 2010, Joanne continues to work closely with businesses, large and small, throughout Southland, Otago and Central Otago.

Joanne is a member of the SIT2LRN Business Advisory Committee. Away from the office, Joanne is the Southland Young Enterprise Scheme (Y.E.S.) Co-ordinator.   

Rachelle Blatch
Training and Events Co-ordinator

Rachelle work’s with the training team to deliver our training programmes.

Rachelle’s is a born and bred Southlander brought up on a farm just outside Invercargill. Rachelle’s passion for travelling persuaded her to live aboard in London before she settled back into Invercargill with her husband and is raising her family.

Rachelle’s career has seen her work in many administrative roles within a number of sectors, including medical, legal and manufacturing. She also brings a wealth of experience with computer programmes and support.

The Otago Southland Employers’ Association welcomed Rachelle to their team in March 2010.

Andrea Blackley

Training and Events Co-ordinator

Andrea works with the training team to deliver our training programmes.

Andrea has spent many years in customer service and administration roles in the telecommunications, education and hospitality industries.

The Otago Southland Employers’ Association welcomed Andrea to their team in November 2012.

Outside the office Andrea is keen on the outdoors and a passionate horse enthusiast.  

Loretta Holland 

Administration Support Health and Safety, HR and Legal

Loretta's role is to provide high level administrative assistance to the Employers’ Association team. She also liaises with members regarding the Association’s training, health and safety, and legal services.

Loretta joined Employers' Association in June 2012, and has had a number of years administration experience.


Anne-Marie McKay
Member Services and Financial Services

Anne-Marie McKay

Anne-Marie is the first point of contact for receiving telephone calls and greeting members in our office, where her commitment to providing outstanding service is well respected amongst the Association's members. Anne-Marie also assists with the finances and always ensures a high quality administrative service.

Anne-Marie joined Employers’ Association in October 2007.

Linda Marchant
Financial Administrator

Linda has held executive support roles in the tertiary education and private sectors.

She joined the Employers’ Association in 2015 having returned to Dunedin after living in the UK for three years. With an extensive background in administration, Linda brings a wide range of skills to the team.  

Meet our board 

Andrew Leys  -  President
Hospice Southland

Andrew recently moved back to Invercargill to take up the position of Chief Executive of Hospice Southland.

Previously, Andrew has held the position of CEO for Credit Union South. In 2001 Andrew's achievements were recognised by the World Council of Credit Unions when he was he inaugural winner of the WOCCU Young Credit Union Professional Award.

Other appointments include director of the NZ Association of Credit Unions, and President of the Chamber of Commerce Southland.

Stuart McLauchlan  
GS McLauchlan & Co

Stuart is the Managing Partner of GS McLauchlan & Co Business Advisors and Accountants, a prominent businessman and company director. He is Board Chair and Director of several other companies.

Sharon Paterson

Sharon is a working Director in a Sheep and Beef family farming unit “Waikaka Station Ltd”. Having recently changed roles from a Rural Manager in the cooperate world to Secretary/Event manager for the Southern Field Days.


Michael Turner
Polson Higgs

Michael is a Fellow Chartered Accountant (FCA) with the Accounting and Business Advisory firm Polson Higgs working with Large and small businesses mainly in the tax area. He has been advising clients for 24 years and has been a Partner for the last 14 years. He is passionate about business and in particular how to minimise the impact of taxation on business.

Fraser Liggett

Waitaki District Council

Fraser is the Policy and Communications Manager with Waitaki District Council responsible for strategic planning, communication and governance.

Previously, Fraser was with the National Infrastructure Unit of the Treasury and managed a number of projects in the United Kingdom and Europe with the London Development Agency, Olympic Delivery Authority and urban regeneration companies.

Fraser continues to be involved with the Treasury’s Better Business Case (BBC) process through his membership of the BBC user group, secondment to CERA and training. Fraser is currently the only endorsed expert practitioner in the South Island. 

Kate Skeggs
Bank of New Zealand

Kate is an International Trade & Cashflow Solutions Specialist with Bank of New Zealand, based in Queenstown and working with clients across Otago & Southland. Kate has been involved in the Banking Industry since 2004 when she graduated from the University of Otago with Commerce and Science degrees.

Kate is actively involved with Export New Zealand activities in the region and is a member of the Queenstown Young Professionals.

Tony Allison
Night 'n Day

Since 2012 Tony has been CEO of the Night ‘n Day franchise Brand. Prior to Night ‘n Day Tony held senior positions at Calder Stewart and a large law firm in London.

In 2013 Tony won the Institute of Directors Aspiring Director Award and is part of the IOD’s future directors initiative.

Other appointments include City Forests and AA Cleaners (Otago).

Warwick Hawker

Central Otago District Council

Warwick is the Economic Development Manager with the Central Otago District Council where he works on the policies and processes that help members of the Central Otago community improve their economic and social well-being. He also with his wife Jenny runs one of Central Otago’s small vineyards producing pinot noir and riesling under the Pisa Range Estate label.

Prior to joining the CODC Warwick was with the New Zealand public service, first the then Tourist and Publicity Department in Christchurch, then the Department of Trade and Industry when he served as New Zealand Trade Commissioner in Fiji from which he covered much of Polynesia, in Singapore with responsibility also for Sri Lanka, and in Australia covering South Australia and the Northern Territory. Warwick then joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade where he filled a variety of off-shore roles that included postings in Malaysia, China, Ambassador to Iran with cross accreditation to Pakistan, and High Commissioner to Tonga. His New Zealand based roles included the establishment of what is now the Asia New Zealand Foundation and most recently Director of the Ministry’s Auckland Office. 

Joanne Conroy
Property Manager/Director, APL Property 

Joanne is based in Queenstown, where she has lived since 1984. She has worked most of that time in the property industry with a focus on commercial and government property. Most recently Joanne owned APL Property Queenstown and although she has recently sold the business she continues to provide Property Advisory to the Company.

Joanne has a number of Governance positions including as Chair of the South Island Trust Board of St John, member of the Priory Trust Board of St John, Trustee of the Queenstown Lakes Community Housing Trust and she is a member of the Board for the Property Advisory Council of the New Zealand Property Institute. Having long been a user of the OSEA services, most particularly continuing education, Joanne joined the Board at the beginning of 2016.