Some Recent Examples

Here are just a few of the activities we’ve loved being involved with over the last wee while:


What an absolute pleasure it has been working with David Ward (CEO) and the rest of the Selwyn District Council (SDC) Senior Leadership team in supporting this organisation to navigate the massive growth they have experienced over the past few years and are still experiencing today.  Initially the Council approached us to support the organisational design and implementation of values & associated behaviours – this then turned into an exciting programme of workplace culture and leadership capability development work starting with a number of leadership capability development workshops with all of the people leaders at SDC, including the Senior Leadership team. 

This was quickly followed by a temperature check of their current workplace culture using our Acentia system. From here we developed their Workplace Culture strategy plan, including the establishment of key pillars of workplace culture excellence that were specifically designed to support execution and delivery of SDC long-term operational goals.  We also spent time with David and his team exploring and developing insight and understanding into the SDC core purpose, aspired vision and a resulting overarching strategy for the organisation.  This was so that in the face of fast paced growth and change, the senior leadership team were in a strong position to deliver clarity to the rest of the organisation on the core anchors and future direction of SDC. 

 “We appreciate the valuable part that Culture by Design played in helping us build a robust and healthy workplace that is prepared for tomorrows challenges.”

David Ward, Chief Executive



It is always so joyful, inspiring and satisfying when we get to work with leaders like Ben, who have such an intuitive feel for human nature and its idiosyncratic complexities. Leaders like Ben, when supported well, easily connect the dots on adopting new skills and leadership approaches, which support and adjust for the sometimes vastly different individual needs of team members in highly creative environments, such as Product Development.

The easy adoption of new leadership skills can often have a powerful and lasting impact on a team, including the establishment of a working atmosphere whereby all team members experience a safe, emotionally intelligent, inspiring and clear leadership style. This in turn, allows for a much greater level of innovation empowerment in a team situation such as Ben’s Product Development team at Kathmandu.

 “(CbD’s) approach is more than just words, and more than just workshops – it is based on a deep and real understanding on what motivates us as humans, and how we can bring out the best in each other.”

Ben Ryan, General Manager Product


FENZ logo

Who wouldn’t love getting to partner with an organisation that has such an inspirational core purpose as FENZ. Making our local communities safer, more resilient and as prepared as possible for mother nature and what can be her blind fury. The culture and leadership development work we have recently completed with different FENZ volunteer brigades has been some of the most intrinsically motivating work that Culture by Design has undertaken to date.

 From assessing Volunteer Brigade cultures to then designing Culture strategy and setting up Volunteer Culture teams to deploy on the strategy, it has been really exciting to watch these Brigades reset their cultures to be far more positive and meaningful.  This is of course, critical to retention in volunteering situations where volunteers are choosing to give up their free time and family time.  We also had the opportunity to complete Leadership Capability development with Volunteer Brigade leaders.  Some of these leaders had never experienced leadership development before and were hugely grateful for the opportunity provided by FENZ as in addition to being Volunteer Brigades leaders they also own and manage their own local businesses.  Again, hugely rewarding for us to play a part in growing their leadership capability.

"Mary and Marie bring a wealth of experience, knowledge and honesty and should be forefront of every business’ workplace culture discussions."

Alan Kittelty, Chief Fire Officer, Darfield Volunteer Fire Brigade

“Using Culture by Design to assist us supporting and developing our leadership capability within our volunteer fire brigades has been very beneficial.”

Hamish Peter, Volunteer Development Manager



Every once and a while you get to work with an organisation that leaves a significant mark and helps you to remember why you do what you do and love it on a grand scale.  NZFP is one such company that Marie and I have had the pleasure of partnering with for almost two and a half years, and what a couple of years it has been!  From supporting this organisation to push the reset button on defining their reason for being and future direction, all the way through to aligning their workplace culture to NZFP strategic aspirations.  From Auckland to Dunedin, the NZFP team are filled with passionate, dedicated and open-minded team members, all of which has such an amazing appetite for doing the hard yards and building self-sufficiency in achieving a platform for growth and exceeding client expectations.

With a new external brand and value promises to boot, NZFP is on a steady pathway to truly unlocking and realizing their potential.  And while at times they have been tested greatly with the unavoidable turbulence of change, the team’s toughness and resilience in building a fit for purpose organisation, which is capable of delivering on external brand promises is nothing short of remarkable.  What a genuine privilege and absolute delight it has been in playing a central role in the shaping and moulding of this organisation’s journey towards excellence.  

"Working with CbD has had a transformational impact on our business! (They) have become invaluable members of our own team and we have thoroughly enjoyed working alongside them."

Craig Dealey, Business Owner & General Manager

"Mary and Marie each bring unique skills to the table, together they provide safe, sound processes, knowing they have our backs has enable us to go where we always knew we should go, but were never equipped."

Mark Hubber, NZFP Director


Image result for orbica

With actual past working experience in the technology sector, anytime we get to partner alongside a tech company, it is a massive thrill for us given the progressive mindset that tech companies tend to have when it comes to building amazing workplace cultures.  This is certainly the case with the Orbica team and their innovative appetite for shaking things up and thinking differently in the design and building of a unique workplace environment.

Kurt and Delphine’s insatiable desire to be radical and not follow the usual rules of People, Capability & Workplace Culture processes is definite music to our ears as it allows us to get our inventive funk on. We are just getting started with the Orbicans so watch this space!

"Orbica has worked with the Culture by Design team to help us ideate and brainstorm our purpose as a company, our values and what really gets us out of bed in the morning. Currently having gone through these hard yards we are turning our attention to looking after Orbicans, curating an amazing culture and growing leaders with the help of Mary and Marie.”

Kurt Janssen, CEO & Founder


Otago Poly Logo

It’s not often we get to work with a team that are already so far advanced in their thinking about workplace culture, but this was certainly our experience of the Culture Team at Otago Polytechnic. These guys have already achieved some huge things for the Polytechnic through their values work etc. They just needed a little help getting a structured culture plan together, which we were very happy to oblige with. We helped them brainstorm and articulate what elements of the Polytechnic are particularly important to their culture, complete their own culture self-assessment, and develop clear actions to move the culture forward in a way that aligns with the unique strategy, features and challenges of the Polytechnic. Watch this space – great things happening here!

"We wanted to create a high performance culture committed to ongoing improvement from good to world class. The expertise of Mary and Marie from Culture by Design has helped us to identify the priority areas of focus to enable us to create actionable steps. Thanks to this valuable work, we now have our plan ready to deploy and look forward to realising the culture we aspire to." 

Jo Brady, Deputy Chief Executive : People Performance and Development  


Court Theatre Logo 2

 How exciting it is to be working with the truly iconic pillar of Christchurch’s performing arts community – The Court Theatre. These guys have been entertaining Cantabrians and making us laugh and cry through thick, thin and shaky, despite losing their beautiful home and having to relocate. The show, as they say, went on!

The Court approached us for help with various aspects of their organisational culture. We quickly discovered that for the amazing team at The Court, producing breath-taking shows takes everyone’s full energy and little is left over for looking after themselves! So into action we have swung, working closely with the dynamic duo of the CE and Artistic Director to firstly take all the leaders at The Court through a Leadership by Design programme to create a shared language and leadership themes. This done, we’re looking forward to upcoming sessions around core ideology and envisioned state, values and behaviour expectations, and finally, ideal culture. Truly inspiring work with a truly inspiring organisation. 

"Culture by Design have provided the most effective leadership programme I have ever attended. It works because it is very personal, and what is more effective at affecting commitment than making it personal? But it is about the group, the team and the organisation – and how we lead and change organisational culture, starting with ourselves. At The Court Theatre we are in a process of affecting significant change and Mary Buckley and Marie Johnston are guiding us through this process with deft aplomb. I have no hesitation in recommending this inspirational programme – which is not something that I do lightly as I have a healthy scepticism of many leadership courses."

Philip Aldridge, Chief Executive

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Some of the fantastic leaders of The Court Theatre hard at work during Leadership by Design



Other recent activities include:

Culture assessments, customised leadership capability workshops, values and team development work, strategy “envisioned state” sessions, upskilling around process improvement and problem solving, hands-on work with inhouse culture teams and a heap of other cool stuff.

 Like to read the full testimonials? Check them out on our Acentia site

Want to know more about any of the above? Get in touch