Tessa Brunton | John W Turnbull Engineering Kupe Leadership Scholar

Bachelor of Engineering (Honours), Bachelor of Global Studies (conjoint)

The international development sector is calling for leaders to reshape the industry and inspire meaningful change. This is emphasised by the United Nations Secretary-General (2023), who wrote that many of the SDGs are "moderately to severely off track" and that "a fundamental shift is needed… and it is needed now."

As a future leader, I aspire to critically challenge the status quo and champion initiatives which produce tangible results. Traditional aid and development has had limited success. The time has come to turn to new models which return the focus to affected communities, creating space for people to direct their own futures and shape their own development.

In doing so, I hope to make a positive difference in the lives of others and contribute to shaping the world into a better place for future generations.

Sponsor: John W Turnbull Engineering

Mentor: Ziena Jalil

Ziena's career spans diplomacy, business leadership and entrepreneurship across New Zealand and Asia. She draws on a rich experience of many worlds to bring equity and opportunity to those with diverse cultures, abilities and experiences. 

A staunch advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion, she is published internationally in the book Workforce Diversity: Global Perspectives.

Ziena is a board member of Toka Tu Ake EQC, Asia New Zealand Foundation, Education New Zealand, and DNA Design, and Chief of Staff at Te Pukenga. A New Zealand Women of Influence awards finalist, as well as being recognised by Campaign Asia Pacific as part of its 2020 Women to Watch, a group of 40 outstanding women in the Asia Pacific. She has received several international awards for her work promoting New Zealand trade and education in Asia, while in the roles of Regional Director (South & South East Asia) for Education New Zealand, New Zealand Trade Commissioner to Singapore, and Head of North Asia Marketing and Communications for New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.

Ziena holds a Master of Arts (First Class Hons) in International Relations and Politics, a Bachelor of Communication Studies, and a Diploma of International Trade. She is a member of Global Women, the New Zealand Institute of Directors, Superdiverse Women, New Zealand Asian Leaders and Asia 21.