About Us


Mary Jensen, Smart Waikato chief executive








Mary Jensen
(B.B.S. Cert Econ Devlpt) has been the Chief Executive of Smart Waikato Trust since its inception in 2009, subcontracting handpicked professionals to manage the groundbreaking FutureForce™ Action Network initiatives including FutureForce™ magazine. Mary developed the NEET (Not in Employment, Education or Training) to Employment model and has overseen Principal for a Day for six years. She also enjoys managing the Lion Foundation Young Enterprise Scheme (YES) as part of her contractual obligations and her voluntary time on Waikato Diocesan School for Girls Board of Trustees as an elected parent representative.

Mary is a pivotal member of the Waikato Regional Economic Development Strategy’s labour market strategy working group and has been elected to the project team helping develop the ‘Waikato Story’ to better convey the special attributes that make our region a great place to live, work, visit, study and invest in.

Waikato born and bred, Mary’s strengths are her extensive networks throughout the region in secondary and tertiary education, local and central government and business and her ability to communicate with a diverse range of people, inspiring them to work towards a common goal.

In 2014 Mary was a finalist in the local and regional category of the New Zealand Women of Influence Awards.

Mary is also manager of WECA, the Waikato Engineering Careers Association.

mary "at" smartwaikato.co.nz

021 2955951


Sally Birch, Smart Waikato communications manager

Sally Birch is Smart Waikato’s communications specialist, a project manager and the editor of FutureForce™ Waikato magazine. A 15-year stint as a business reporter familiarised Sally with the economic landscape of the Waikato, while community work in her Fairfield neighbourhood grew her passion for supporting and developing young people.

Sally’s journalism career and excellent relationships with key business, youth and education stakeholders sets her in good stead for her role. Sally works predominantly in written and digital communications for SMEs and not-for-profits and sees her work with Smart Waikato as a way to make a positive and lasting difference to youth in the region.


Linda Nelson Caie, Smart Waikato project manager

Linda Nelson Caie is a human resources specialist with a Masters in Psychology. Linda brings a wealth of academic strength to Smart Waikato and has developed the trust’s robust suite of resources. She has undertaken global research of best practice models to simultaneously reduce youth unemployment and create solutions for employers struggling to find appropriately skilled talent. 

Linda project manages FAN events and is a contributing writer for FutureForce™ Waikato magazine. She is passionate about encouraging and supporting employers to offer youth more work experience, internships, cadetships and apprenticeships in the Waikato region.

Levinia Paku, Smart Waikato co-ordinator

Levinia Paku co-ordinates The Lion Foundation Young Enterprise Scheme for Smart Waikato and brings excellent networking, public relations and event management skills to the table.

Levinia has a science background and previously worked as a PR and events co-ordinator, and conducted research for, the Cooperative Education Unit of the University of Waikato. Her research papers have been presented both in New Zealand and throughout the world. She also spent more than a decade as a placement co-ordinator for University of Waikato students. 

Levinia admires the work of YES and Smart Waikato and is excited to be part of the team.

Leah Crawford, Smart Waikato co-ordinator

Leah Crawford assists with co-ordination of Smart Waikato initiatives, including Secondary School Employer Partnerships.

Leah, Huntly College’s Gateway coordinator since 2014, is passionate about making a difference for Waikato youth by giving them skills and opportunities to help them flourish and become valuable members of society.

A role with Smart Waikato gives Leah the opportunity to significantly broaden her reach in helping the region’s young people develop the right skills for sustainable, working futures.

Leah, founder of Fighting for Our Youth Trust, was operations manager of Kelly Sports Waikato from 2011 to 2013. She co-ordinated and presented Sugar Ray Leonard’s 2010 visit to New Zealand, raising more than $100,000 for events.


Sarah Morton-Johnson, Chair Smart Waikato

Sarah Morton-Johnson (BBS (HRM), Massey University MInstD) is a seasoned Human Resources and Governance professional, dedicated to ensuring strong futures for each organisation she is involved with and contributes a unique skillset that blends a practical understanding of people issues with long-range vision, organisational expertise, and a focus on effectiveness and accountability.

Sarah has completed governance education through the Institute of Directors including the Financial Tool Box and Regional Director Development Programmes. In 2014 Sarah was the winner of the Waikato Emerging Director Award. Sarah’s experience spans the resources, manufacturing and services sectors and her most recent role was as the Human Resources Manager for SKYCITY Hamilton.


Roger Evans, Stafford Engineering, Trustee Smart Waikato







Roger Evans
is the CEO of Stafford Engineering Ltd, established in 1986 to service the local precision engineering market.  Over the ensuing years the business has prospered and evolved into a comprehensive facility manufacturing food processing and packaging equipment for the world.  In recent years Roger has discovered that skill shortage has been an impediment not only to the business operation but also the opportunity to grow. Frustration motivated Roger to first understand and devise strategies then confront the issues by providing Leadership, vision and energy.

Through partnership with other Industry leaders Roger has helped establish WECA (Waikato Engineering Careers Association) with a vision to raise the profile of engineering so that young people see engineering as a career of choice and Skillwise, with a vision to align education and training for the economic development of our region by establishing "partnerships that strategically consider the human resources our region needs in the future and influence the providers of education and training to provide it."

When the funding for Skillwise came to an end Roger was encouraged to continue his involvement by becoming a Trustee for Smart Waikato, an independent Charitable Trust with a vision to co-ordinate meaningful connections between Waikato Schools and Waikato work places.


Alan Munro, Matamata College, Trustee Smart Waikato


Alan Munro, Principal of Matamata College, was brought up in the Waikato by dairy farming parents.
With a teaching background in health and physical education, he has been involved in education for more than 25 years.
Alan believes the key role of schools is to provide students with pathways through and beyond school, recognising the importance of connecting with local businesses and creating vocational opportunities for young people.

Alan has worked in three very good but very different schools - Christchurch Boys’ High School, St Peters School Cambridge, and Matamata College where he is completing his second year as Principal after being Deputy Principal for the previous decade.

Alan’s student-focused approach to education and the total wellbeing of students sets him in good stead for his Smart Waikato role.


Julian Williams, Trustee Smart Waikato


Julian Williams is a descendent of the Waikato Iwi. Julian is the youngest of six and grew up in Ngaruawahia alongside the Waikato and Waipaa Rivers. He studied Resource and Environment Planning with Geography, graduating from the University of Waikato with a Degree in Social Sciences.

After University, Julian worked for Waahi Whaanui Trust, a marae based social service provider in Huntly. He then worked for Fonterra for a few years before being asked to return to the tribe to progress the Waikato River Claim. After 13 years working for Waikato-Tainui, Julian left as General Manager for one of the tribal units, the Waikato Raupatu River Trust. Julian has since started his own company focussing on natural resource work with local Councils, Iwi, Hapuu and community groups.


Sean Lambly, Prolife Foods, Trustee Smart Waikato

Sean Lambly has had an extensive career in the food manufacturing and the fast moving consumer goods industry. He started his career with Huttons Kiwi Bacon Company and from there went on perform various operations and procurement roles with Fonterra, Rank group and Goodmanfielder. Sean currently has the position of General Manager of operations and supply chain for Prolife Foods, a Hamilton based food manufacturing and distribution business. Sean has strong leadership skills and has a huge passion for creating opportunity for individuals to perform to their potential and achieve their personal goals.

He is a very proud Waikato man and is excited about joining the Smart Waikato board to assist in the development of careers path for future leaders.