Open Polytechnic employs a wide range of learning and teaching experts who provide academic and learning support to our distance learners.
We also use contractors, mostly off campus, who are subject matter experts in their fields who provide academic support and marking services.
As a specialist provider of open flexible distance learning, we also employ highly skilled courseware design and development, and education technology professionals, administration and customer support staff, as well as library and learning centre staff who are all focused on helping Open Polytechnic learners achieve their educational goals.
Find out more about our workforce by selecting an area below.
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Dr Caroline Seelig
Dr Caroline Seelig has over 25 years’ experience as a senior manager in New Zealand’s tertiary education sector. Since taking up her role as Chief Executive in 2009 Open Polytechnic has gone from strength to strength. Under Caroline’s leadership Open Polytechnic’s course and qualification results now match those of face-to-face polytechnic providers in New Zealand. Passionate about the benefits that distance learning can deliver to lifelong learners, Caroline has been instrumental in Open Polytechnic’s digital transformation.
Caroline has extensive knowledge of the ITP sector, having previously held senior positions in Tai Poutini Polytechnic, Eastern Institute of Technology, and Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology. She has led institutional strategic and investment planning, and overseen flexible learning, teaching and delivery units, academic portfolio development, quality management and student support. She has also been involved in a wide range of successful collaborative initiatives and projects to drive change and innovation.
Caroline is an Honorary Fellow and Learning Advisor of the Commonwealth of Learning. She is a previous Chair of New Zealand Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics and was recently a member of the International Council for Open and Distance Education Task Group on Student Success. Well respected in her local community, she is a former board member of the Hutt Valley Chamber of Commerce, and a previous Chair of the Technology Valley Committee.
Caroline was a Woolf Fisher Scholar in 2004 for her outstanding work in education management. She also holds a Bachelor of Science (Hons), a Postgraduate Certificate in Education, a Master of Educational Administration, and a PhD.
Executive Director Learning Delivery
Commencing with Open Polytechnic at the beginning of 2015, Alan has brought to his role a significant depth of experience in the New Zealand vocational tertiary education sector.
Prior to this role Alan held the position of Academic Director at WelTec for 5 years. In this senior management role he was responsible for the delivery of academic and learning support services, policy development and administration, and quality assurance systems. Alan also led the organisation’s research and enterprise activities.
Previously, after time spent in a lecturing role in the areas of business and management studies, Alan was head of the business school at the Universal College of Learning (UCOL), based in Palmerston North. He then moved into the role of Associate Dean, Faculty of Humanities and Business, at UCOL. During this time he developed a strong interest in education technology and the use of flexible and online delivery for learning and teaching.
Alan’s earlier involvement in commerce and industry is reflected in the business and management qualifications he holds. He has an MBA from Otago University and a research-based Masters in Management from Massey University. He also holds certification in adult teaching and learning.
Alan is a member of the Ako Aotearoa Central Hub Advisory Group and a past member of the NZQA Institutes of Technology Polytechnics Sector Advisory Group. He is a member of the Australasian Association for Tertiary Education Management.
Executive Director School Strategy
Alex joined Open Polytechnic in January 2017. Previously he had held the role of Principal of Catlins Area School since 2010. He has held several senior teaching roles both in Auckland and Nelson and taught a number of subjects, at all levels both primary and secondary.
During his time at Catlins Area School he was involved in leading innovation in curriculum design and implementation of a local flexible curriculum that matched courses both vocational and academic to the learner. Much of this involved leveraging technology to teach personalised programmes to students in a blended or flipped model. Alex also worked with a variety of tertiary education organisations and industry training organisations to create eLearning resources for students completing Level 2 qualifications.
Alex is a past President of the New Zealand Area School Association, and past member of the Panel of Experts for the Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards. He has also sat on a number of Ministry of Education advisory panels. He holds a Bachelor and a Master of Science from the University of Otago, as well as a Diploma of Teaching and Learning from the Dunedin College of Education.
Executive Director Strategy
Alison returned to Open Polytechnic as Executive Director Strategy in 2017, having worked for the organisation in a similar role from 2009–2014 before departing to help run a family-owned business in the healthcare industry.
As Executive Director Strategy Alison leads the development of strategy and business planning, which includes facilitating strategy development and ensuring Open Polytechnic delivers on this strategy, including the monitoring and managing of performance against targets.
Outside of her role at Open Polytechnic, Alison previously worked as a management consultant in Europe for 10 years, leading change management and strategic and business improvement projects across a wide range of public and private sector organisations.
Alison has 20 years’ experience in tertiary education, including roles in applied research and the commercialisation of research technologies in a university spin-off company. She is the author of 11 books and has over 60 academic publications to her name.
Alison holds a PhD in chemical engineering from the University of Natal in South Africa and an MBA (with distinction) from Oxford University in the United Kingdom. She is a member of the Commercial Board of the Institute of Directors, serves on the Kapiti Economic Development Leadership Group, and is a director of a family-owned business.
Executive Director Marketing and Communications
Doug Standring is one of New Zealand’s most experienced open and distance learning (ODL) professionals. Along with marketing and communications, his specialist expertise includes the international ODL environment, and distance learning strategy, management and business models. Doug’s 20-year career in tertiary education in New Zealand and the United Kingdom spans strategic planning, brand, digital and search marketing, corporate communications, business development and partnerships, product and service innovation, and transnational education. He has also conducted consultancy work for the Commonwealth of Learning.
Doug’s previous roles include managing media and communications at the London School of Economics and Massey University. Along with graduate study in marketing, Doug holds a Master of Arts (First Class) from Massey University and a Graduate Diploma in International Relations (Distinction) from the London School of Economics.
Executive Director Learning Design and Development
Mark joined the Open Polytechnic executive team in 2010, and served for three years as Director Technology Enhanced Learning with The Open University UK before returning to New Zealand in 2019. Mark has a strong background in open, distance and digital education based on a Master of Arts in Open and Distance Education (Distinction) and a PhD from the University of Otago in the area of spiritual formation in online education. His research publications and more about him can be viewed from his LinkedIn profile, https://www.linkedin.com/in/mbnichols/.
Executive Director Digital Services and Enterprise Projects
Mathew Pawley joined Open Polytechnic in June 2015. Prior to this he had contracted to Open Polytechnic as integration programme manager for a groundbreaking educational technology product.
Mathew has had extensive experience in both IT and project management roles, beginning his career in the private sector as an IT project manager with Heinz Australasia, before moving to the United Kingdom as international operations manager for a large IT organisation running mission-critical technology across multinational customers.
On his return to New Zealand Mathew moved into the public sector to run medium to large-scale project teams across district health boards, Transpower NZ and ACC. He holds qualifications in project management and ITIL, and a Bachelor of Engineering (Information and Telecommunications) from Massey University.
Executive Director Financial Services
Murray has over 10 years’ experience in the tertiary sector and has gained an in-depth knowledge of the successful commercial models supporting open and distance learning. He joined Open Polytechnic with management and accounting experience both in New Zealand and overseas.
Murray has been previously involved, usually as financial or corporate services leader, in a number of industries and organisations – most recently the health sector (controlling the payments of over $1 billion to health organisations and professionals), information management (the development of a geospatial company), and the financial services industry in New Zealand and London (managing the compliance team for the implementation of financial regulation in the United Kingdom). He is a member of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand.
Executive Director Academic Services and Deputy Chief Executive
Prior to joining Open Polytechnic in February 2010, Neil was Deputy CEO Academic Services and Policy at WelTec. He has also held senior roles at the Central Institute of Technology, NZQA, Agriculture ITO, and the Association of Polytechnics in New Zealand.
Neil has a comprehensive understanding of the financial, human resource management and academic quality needs of a large polytechnic, having held senior management roles throughout the changes in the tertiary sector over the last 20 years. A Woolf Fisher Scholar in 2005, Neil holds both a BSc (Hons First Class) and an MSc in biochemistry.
Chief Technology Officer
Shanan joined Open Polytechnic in 2010. He has previously held technology and software roles focusing on lean and responsive delivery in both the private and public sectors. Shanan began his ICT career in 1996 in web development. Prior to joining Open Polytechnic he was involved in technology development and learning technology initiatives at Victoria University of Wellington and Melbourne’s Monash and Swinburne universities, as well as with organisations such as Telecom NZ, Ericsson, 3months, and ACC.
Shanan led the product development and direction of iQualify, a digital learning platform created by and utilised at Open Polytechnic. iQualify serves the learning needs of a range of tertiary and secondary schools, businesses and professional organisations.
Shanan has worked to promote iQualify’s learner-centred approach to digital education at forums as diverse as UNESCO’s 2015 ICT in Education Conference in Qingdao, China, Brisbane’s EduTech, and CORE’s uLearn, as well as holding direct discussions with hundreds of stakeholders on the future of digital and learner-centred experiences and assessment.
Turi Ngatai (MNZM)
Executive Director Māori
Turi Ngatai, who is from Tauranga Moana and is affiliated to the Ngāi te Rangi and Ngāti Ranginui, joined Open Polytechnic in August 2016.
Turi has extensive experience in education, having trained as a teacher and having experience in primary, intermediate and secondary schools for nearly 20 years, at both integrated and state schools. Turi has extensive knowledge of the wānanga sector and has worked with Te Wānanga o Raukawa and Awanuiarangi over the past 15 years. In early 2016 Turi retired from Te Wānanga o Aotearoa after serving nearly 17 years at one of New Zealand’s largest tertiary institutions. In addition, Turi has spent over 10 years at the head office of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa as Executive Director of Delivery Services, deputising as acting CEO on several occasions.
Turi has also served on a number of community and iwi groups, and is currently Deputy Chair of the Ngai Te Rangi Settlement Trust and the Ngai Te Rangi Runanga. In addition, he has served as a member of the Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust and Chair of the Fiordland Community Group. He is currently involved with the Māori Community Group working through the Waiariki Institute of Technology/Bay of Plenty Polytechnic merger.
His family is heavily involved in the kiwifruit industry, where Turi has become involved in setting up the National Māori Kiwifruit Forum. Turi was recently appointed to the board of Te Awanui Huka Pak, a Māori grower’s cooperative in Tauranga.
Turi has recently been appointed to Te Kahui Matauranga. This is the pan-iwi entity that partners with Toi Ohomai and provides advice and shared governance by iwi to Toi Ohomai in the Bay of Plenty. It provides strategic leadership that enables iwi to play a formative part in decisions made at all levels at Toi Ohomai.
Turi is a highly successful motivational speaker who has been called on by both educational and business organisations to speak at conferences and run seminars at local, national and international levels.