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Neil Barns, Owner and Director of Neil Barns Consulting Ltd and Chair of OPAIC Board 

Dr Neil Barns has extensive experience in the tertiary education sector, recently as Interim Chief Executive of Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology and as the Chief Executive of CPIT.


Sam Alavi, Managing Director – Future Skills Academy 

Sam Alavi has over 25 years’ experience working in the private education sector in New Zealand and predominantly in South Auckland, working with second-chance learners in a foundation education setting. Sam established Future Skills in 2000 in Manukau, to provide better opportunities for youth in South Auckland to access education and employment.  Over the years he has grown and diversified Future Skills education activities to include tertiary level programmes for levels 3 and above, and formed an alliance and partnership with Otago Polytechnic to set up the Otago Polytechnic Auckland International Campus catering to over 1,000 international students studying at graduate, post-graduate and masters levels. He currently serves on the Boards of Auckland International Campus and Iamcapable and has a governance role for the delivery of building surveying to Building Control Authorities for regional councils, with BOINZ, Skill Org and Otago Polytechnic.


Megan Gibbons, Chief Executive - Otago Polytechnic

Megan Gibbons is a successful educator who won the Ako Aotearoa National Award in Excellence in Tertiary Teaching in 2016. Prior to her current role she was the Deputy Chief Executive for People and Performance. Megan has expertise in academic leadership, with strengths in curriculum development and leadership development. She completed the Educational Leadership Programme at Harvard University in 2019. She is a New Zealand Athletics coach, and well recognised within Otago Sport. She is a judge for the annual Otago Sports Awards.


Phil Ker, Learning Strategy and Development Specialist – OPAIC

Phil Ker took up his appointment as Chief Executive of Otago Polytechnic in 2004. He has had a diverse array of experience and has developed a broad portfolio of expertise as both an academic and an administrator in both university and polytechnic environments. His previous roles have included lecturing in business and tertiary teacher education, staff development and management of student services, human resources, and property functions. He is particularly interested in business education, education for sustainability, staff development generally and leadership development specifically, and in the recognition of prior experiential learning. 


Philip Cullen, Deputy Chief Executive/Chief Operating Officer – Otago Polytechnic 

Philip Cullen is the Deputy Chief Executive Corporate Services/Chief Operating Officer at Otago Polytechnic. His key roles are managing the financial, property, campus development and IT aspects of the polytechnic. Additionally, he is involved with several corporate activities such as Business Services, Capital Works and Facilities, Commercial Operations, Information Systems and Support. Philip gained Bachelor of Arts and Commerce degrees at Otago University. He worked with the Ministry of Agriculture, University of Otago and Presbyterian Support before joining Otago Polytechnic 14 years ago.