Maria McDonald


Key Skills

  • Executive level management in complex service delivery environments.
  • Strategy and change leadership.
  • Purchasing, procurement and contracts.
  • Relationship management and stakeholder engagement.
  • Politically savvy.

Maria is an experienced leader driven to make a difference.  She offers strong strategic and operational leadership, coupled with change management experience which has been gathered across a range of sectors.  Maria has led change programmes to improve outcomes for those at the heart of the service – from developing strategy, design, to business models and bringing about real change to improving how service is delivered.

Maria has strong relationship management and influencing skills, and proficient at engaging and relating with customers, stakeholders, funders and staff.  She is a future thinking and lateral connector, and sees things as a system.  This means she is able to spot opportunities, and brings people with her on the journey. 

Maria thrives in complex environments, is able to develop strategy and translate this to delivery.  She is often referred to as “a safe pair of hands” having managed high profile operational incidents and can be relied upon to deliver. 


  • MA (Applied) Criminology, Victoria University
  • B.Soc.Sc (Cross Cultural Psychology), University of Waikato
  • Leading for Strategic Success, Melbourne Business School, Mt Eliza Executive - (5 day residential programme)

Recent Experience

  • NZ Transport Agency - Thought leadership and change support 
  • Social Investment Agency - Lead Facilitator, NGO and Agency workshops “Your Voice, Your Say, Your Say on Social Wellbeing”Maria was one of the lead facilitators for national engagement with NGOs and agencies around investing for social wellbeing, and data protection and use  
  • Environmental Protection Authority - Change Support, Hazardous Substances Applications, Maria was asked to provide advice to the Manager of the Hazardous Substances Applications group, including change support for improved workflow and productivity
  • Civil Aviation Association - Programme Manager for the Regulatory Craft Programme, Maria was contracted for a significant multi-stream organisational improvement and change programme, the Regulatory Craft Programme, during the programmes startup phase to provide overall management across the multiple programme streams, drive an integrated approach to programme planning and delivery and establish effective structures to support the overall success of the programme
  • Ministry of Education - Programme Manager, Learning Support (Special Education) Update, Leading a programme of work across the Ministry, education sector and key stakeholders to transform how support is provided to learners. The work has received Cabinet endorsement
  • Land Information New Zealand - Acting Manager Business with Maori,  - Support the Executive Team to sustain external relationships with Maori and embed a Business with Maori lens across the business.