Professional Administrators Forum

Attend the Forum for PAs in local government to gain insights into making an impact at your Council while balancing your busy life and achieving what matters to you.


This year’s programme focuses on personal inspiration, networking and practical tools that can be immediately applied at your Council.

  • Understanding how professional administrators impact their councils and communities from a CE’s perspective.
  • Being the 'first responders' to problems – internal and external – especially when crises hit. How can PAs in emergency situations impact outcomes?
  • Balancing the competing demands, ‘hats’ and expectations of a PA role.
  • Meeting your own personal goals while organising others’ lives.
  • Building your council networks across New Zealand so you can share and compare.

The investment for SOLGM members is $510+GST, $610+GST for non-members.

We want you to leave your ‘work brain’ behind and arrive comfortable and relaxed – so we encourage you to wear your ‘Casual Friday’ attire!

The Programme

Optional networking dinner - Francesca's Italian - Thursday 22 March 2018 7pm onwards

Places will fill up fast! Ensure you book your spot early!

Join us at Francesca’s Italian Kitchen to network and meet with other event attendees! You can register and pre-pay for this networking dinner, along with your ticket to the Forum at the bottom of this page. The small cost of $40+GST will cover your two course meal.

Further details about the networking dinner will be sent out to all those who have registered closer to the time.

At Francesca’s Italian Kitchen you can enjoy the exciting flavours, aromas and hospitality of Italy. Lonely Planet’s review states “Even simple things like pizza, pasta and polenta chips are exceptional.” The restaurant is centrally located at 149 Gloucester Street, next to the Isaac Theatre Royal, and within walking distance of the Rydges Latimer Hotel where the Forum will be held.


If you wish to book accommodation at the Rydges Latimer Christchurch, please follow the link below

Day One: 23 March 2018

8.30am: Registration

9.00am: Welcome and icebreaker
Fiona Purchas, Manager, Professional Development, SOLGM

9.30am: Welcome to Christchurch - PAs: A force for good
Dr. Karleen Edwards, Chief Executive, Christchurch City Council

What role do PAs play in setting the tone and culture of an organisation? Karleen will share her reflections and experience of how PAs can be a positive force and influential in councils and communities.

10.00am Reflections, questions, discussion
Table Groups
What does it mean to be an 'organisational force'?

10.30am: Morning tea

11.00am: Keynote: Making life work - organising chaos
Lisa O'Neill, author of two books, Look Gorgeous, Be Happy and Juggling in High Heels, Inspirer, High Heel Wearer. Lisa has dedicated her life to the art of empowerment.
Modern lives are busy lives: work, family, friends, health, finance and more. Find out how to manage it all with gusto. Based on Lisa’s newest book, Juggling in High Heels, learn the art of juggling priorities with good planning, so you can feel on top of it all and can do more of what you want. Lisa will teach you to:
  • be a talented multi-tasker
  • navigate your never-ending list of roles
  • learn to let the small stuff go
  • prioritise living a life that you love.

Through thoughtful self-evaluation, Lisa shows us how to manage the key elements to having a balanced life: mind, body, relationships, money and work. By dropping the drama and learning to handle what life throws at us, we can begin to live the life we want to live. Filled with plenty of tips, tricks and Lisa’s signature bubbliness, you will come away feeling inspired and empowered to exude confidence in all that you do.

12.00pm: Table top discussion - How do you organise chaos in your role?
Facilitated by SOLGM
Bring your real ‘case studies’ and tips and tricks to share on maintaining sanity.

Delegates will split into groups to share experiences of successful work practices.

12.20pm: Baffled by the difference between City Councils, Unitary Authorities, District Councils and Regional Councils?
Jane Wilson, Instructional Designer, SOLGM
Jane will give a short Demo of ‘How Local Government Works’ through SOLGM’s new self-paced e- learning programme and you’ll get the big picture of how local government hangs together.

12.30pm: Lunch

1.00pm: Choose between Stream 1 or Stream 2. You will be able to register for the Forum and your preferred stream at the bottom of this page.

Stream 1 - Rubble to rebuild 1 - 3pm
Take a bus tour with members of the city's Infrastructure team around the CBD as they share their experiences of the rebuild since the earthquakes. Hear from Liam Nolan, Head of the Vertical Capital Delivery & Professional Services Unit, Christchurch City Council, who manages teams that work on the rebuild of Christchurch, and Lorraine Howard (previously with Christchurch City Council) about work in the EOC during the 2010 - 2011 Earthquakes and the more recent Kaikoura quake, Port Hills Fires and 2017 Floods.

Places are limited to 50 so secure your seat today! Select "Register for Forum and Stream 1 bus tour" or "Register for Forum and Stream 1 bus tour and dinner" at the bottom of this page to book your place.

Stream 2

Competing roles and responsibilities 1 - 2pm
Helen Rice, Mediation Lawyer, Rice + Co
PAs often find themselves in cast in multiple competing roles; gatekeeper, organiser, mediator/sounding board, minute taker, connector, environment 'stager', Helen will take participants through dynamic, entertaining and practical exercises to realise and enhance their personal power and manage these competing expectations and responsibilities. You will learn invaluable practical tips that will change your thinking and increase your enjoyment and productivity both professionally and personally.

Process mapping tactics 2 - 3pm
Rhiannon Herrick, TACTICS
Professional Administrators are pivotal in capturing and sharing business processes and helping to improve operational effectiveness. This process mapping session from Rhiannon will give you a taste of process mapping and specific tools you can apply immediately back at work.

If you prefer Stream 2, select "Register for Forum and Stream 2 presentations" or "Register for Forum and Stream 2 presentations and dinner" at the bottom of this page to book your place.

3.00pm Afternoon tea

3.30pm: PA Pecha Kucha Short punchy presentations.
Pecha Kucha means “Chatter” in Japanese. You’ll have 20 slides and 20 seconds per slide to share a project, success story or message you want other administrators to hear.

We already have some slots taken – are you up for the challenge? Contact to register your interest.

1. Controller support during an emergency Do you have what it takes to hold things together when crises hit?
Lorraine Howard, Previously Veteran Controller Support to the Christchurch City EOC Controller, previously with Christchurch City Council.

2. How to stay fresh and motivated when you’re at the top of your game
Jane Wilson, Instructional Designer and Fiona Purchas, Career Coach and SOLGM Professional Development Manager.

3. Transitioning skills from the Private Sector to NFP to Local Government – What’s different and how does AAPNZ fit in?
Joanne Gallop Executive Assistant at Christchurch City Council


4.00pm Achievers, goal setters and go getters
Maree Bowden, 100% Project

Administrators are organisers of others, but are you personally achieving and succeeding in what’s important to you? Maree will encourage you to explore your individual mindset and find your ‘flow’ and flourish.

Maree Bowden is a former Silver Fern and Canterbury Tactix netballer who is passionate about education and helping others live a happy, healthy and flourishing life. She has a Bachelor of Teaching and Learning Degree from Christchurch College of Education and also completed a Graduate Certificate in Career Counselling for Elite Performers through Victoria University in Melbourne.

4.45pm Wrap up and close


Below are your options to register for this event. Please select which 1.00pm stream you wish to attend by clicking the corresponding button below.

The registration buttons below include your Forum registration.

Register for forum and stream 1 bus tour

Register for forum and stream 2 presentations

PLEASE NOTE: The Register button below includes your Forum registration and the Networking Dinner. Please select which 1.00pm stream you wish to attend by clicking the corresponding button.

Register for forum and stream 1 bus tour AND DINNER

Register for forum and stream 2 presentations AND DINNER

Please feel free to call us if you experience any difficulties - 04 978 1280


  • Lisa O'Neil

    Speaker, Mentor and Author

    Being born and raised in small town New Zealand is what Lisa credits her ability to work with people from all walks of life to. Whether you are the head of a large company, a self-employed business owner or a stay at home mother of 3, Lisa can help.

    Having married her childhood sweetheart and raised 4 children while building a business, Lisa is the ‘queen of the juggle’. A talented multitasker, Lisa has an ability to inspire and gives practical advice on how to live a life you love.

    An experienced presenter, Lisa was a regular on TVNZ ’s Good Morning Show for 4 years, has appeared on The Paul Henry Show and Radio Live. Speaking to over 16,000 people in 2016 - Lisa is an influencer with a huge social media following.

    Lisa was Fashion Editor for New Zealand Woman's Weekly and loves inspiring women to be the best version of themselves.

    She believes in less housework, more moisturiser and bigger knickers. Loves glitter and big skirts and anything a little bit fancy.

  • Dr Karleen Edwards

    Chief Executive, Christchurch City Council

    Dr Karleen Edwards has significant experience in the public sector in New Zealand and Australia at strategic, operational and leadership levels. She has been the Chief Executive of the Christchurch City Council since June 2014. Previously she was Chief Executive of the Commission for Hospital Improvement in the Victoria Department of Health in Australia. The Commission’s role is to improve clinical, quality and efficiency of Victorian Hospitals.

    Graduating from Dunedin Medical School with a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery and specialising as a psychiatrist, she also holds an MBA (with distinction) from Canterbury University.

  • Liam Nolan

    Head of the Vertical Capital Delivery & Professional Services Unit at Christchurch City Council

    As Head of Vertical Capital Delivery & Professional Services Unit at CCC, Liam manages teams providing professional services and delivery/repair of Major and Community Facilities for the Council in the rebuild of Christchurch.

    Liam has 30 years commercially focussed quantity surveying background, accompanied by strong experience from client and contractor side in negotiation and delivery of complex major projects/programmes throughout their lifecycle; business case development, delivery strategy, design management, construction and operation.

    Liam was an inaugural member of the Christchurch City Council’s Major Facilities team established in 2012 and Anchor Projects Manager. Liam has an MBA (Warwick) is ONC/HNC Construction Management, and Chairs the Construction Clients Group for Christchurch City Council.

  • Lorraine Howard

    Previously Veteran Controller Support to the Christchurch City EOC Controller, previously with Christchurch City Council

    Lorraine emigrated to New Zealand in December 2006 and settled in Kaiapoi just outside Christchurch. Lorraine soon gained employment in the Consenting and Compliance Unit at Christchurch City Council, and from May 2007, has been employed as the Executive Assistant to the General Manager.

    After attending the local Technology College Lorraine started her career with the Lincolnshire Training and Enterprise Council who ran, at that time, the government supported Modern Apprenticeship Training Schemes. The scheme provided on the job training, with supported college tuition for school levers. Lorraine worked her way up from her starter role of receptionist, to admin assistant then facilities supervisor, before becoming PA to the General Manager.

    Lorraine has been an integral member of the Christchurch City Council Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) Team and brings a wealth of 25 years of PA / EA experience with her when it comes to providing support to the local controller and helping out during an emergency.

    Lorraine’s knowledge and experience has not gone unnoticed as she was recently approached to join the newly formed Canterbury 10 Support Team. The team is being established to provide support to any EOC in Canterbury when additional experienced staff are required.

    Lorraine has recently taken up a new EA position with the Waimakariri District Council where she will continue to support the EOC during emergencies.

  • Helen Rice

    Mediation Lawyer

    Helen Rice leads the Rice + Co local government team. She is regarded as one of New Zealand’s most experienced and successful mediation lawyers, and knows when and how to use mediation and other modern dispute resolution techniques to bring parties together. Helen has observed that although litigation has an important place in resolving disputes and settling claims it is often too narrow, expensive, and slow which has motivated her to employ alternative methods. This understanding of what motivates people, and her reputation as a compelling leader, along with her lively, interactive, and fun presentations means she is in high demand as a speaker and trainer. As she acts for councils all over the country, Helen understands the importance of not only maintaining but enhancing their council clients’ good reputations with their communities and their standing as public bodies. Helen’s experience, reputation and practical advice has led her to be invited to present for the NZ Law Society, Auckland District Law Society, Resource Management Lawyers Association, Arbitrators and Mediators Institute NZ, Building Officials Institute New Zealand, Auckland Women Lawyers, SOLGM and others. Helen is also a persuasive advocate and has appeared extensively before the judiciary, and has expertise across the local government regulatory and legislative landscape.

  • Maree Bowden

    100% Project

    Maree Bowden is a former Silver Fern and Canterbury Tactix netballer who is passionate about education and helping others live a happy, healthy and flourishing life. She has a Bachelor of Teaching and Learning Degree from Christchurch College of Education and also completed a Graduate Certificate in Career Counselling for Elite Performers through Victoria University in Melbourne.

    On finishing her career, Maree taught, became a Mum to Parker and has helped establish 100% Project. She currently also works as the Personal Development Manager for Canterbury Rugby, assisting players with their lives off the field to ensure they are well prepared for when they transition out of rugby. Maree provides mentoring and career education for individuals to assist their well-being and ensure they flourish in all areas of their lives. She loves encouraging and challenging people to reach their full potential.

  • Rhiannon Herrick


    With qualifications and experience in training, documentation and knowledge management, Rhiannon is an acknowledged process mapping expert. She works nationally and internationally, in industries ranging from banking to wine making, as well as in the public sector with major government agencies.

    Rhiannon sees the most critical skills in process mapping as the ability to ask difficult questions and challenge the way things have always been done. The goal is to capture a process which will improve effectiveness and efficiency, clarify roles and responsibilities, and highlight the support needed to make the process work well.

  • Fiona Purchas

    Manager, Professional Development, SOLGM

    Prior to joining SOLGM is 2017, Fiona was a career consultant, corporate trainer and facilitator. For over 20 years she has been assisting individuals to work out what makes them get up and go to work each morning, and working with organisations to make sure they keep their staff keep walking through the doors each day. She now applies this thinking to the Local government sector with SOLGM ensuring the professional development programme is both relevant and motivating.

  • Jane Wilson

    Instructional Designer, SOLGM

    Jane has recently joined SOLGM in a newly created role of ‘Instructional Designer’.

    Jane’s background is in learning and development where she has held a number of roles in the government sector, and for the past 4.5 years she has worked as a self-employed contractor. She is passionate about instructional design, particularly in the digital e-learning space, and enjoys exploring new concepts and ways of doing things to engage learners.

    In her spare time Jane is busy providing a taxi service for her two teenagers! She also enjoys interior design and walking her two dogs Frankie and Delilah.