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Our people

Alastair Kerr

Board Chairman

Alastair has held many senior executive roles internationally with organisations such as Marks and Spencer, Mothercare, Virgin, The Body Shop, L’Oreal and Williams Sonoma Inc. in a career spanning 35 years. As an Independent Director, he has extensive governance experience and has been on many boards across many different geographies and sectors.  


He is currently chair of J Murphy and Sons, a $2 Billion construction business based in London, and operating in the UK, Australia, Canada and the US. He is also a Director of Fuller Smith and Turner PLC, the brewers, operating in London and the South of England; Sara Group, a French Lebanese family consumer business, operating across the Middle East; and Paper Plus, a NZ book retail co-operative with approx. 140 stores. He has also been Chair of Arran Arromatics, a Director of Fenwick Ltd., and White Stuff Limited, as well as being a Public Member of Network Rail in the UK and a member of The Body Shop Trust. Alastair has been Chair of Cognition since January 2017.

Alister Jones

Alister is an experienced senior academic and university administrator.  


He is currently the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Waikato and prior to that was the Dean of the College of Education there. He has a distinguished academic career, with his leadership in a number of educational and university based teaching and professional develop-initiatives having been acknowledged nationally and internationally. More recently Alister has had a close involvement with Cognition through the Te Toi Tupu consortium and along with others has been a driving force behind it.

David Sullivan

David joined the Cognition Education board in 2017, and brings over 30 years professional experience in New Zealand and abroad, across a number of different business sectors.


As a Chartered Accountant with a B Com from Auckland University, David is an experienced CFO and Director having held a number of Finance leadership roles in local and multinational organisations. His experience encompasses strategy, mergers and acquisitions, business transformation and governance positions within Lion Nathan, Vodafone, SkyCity, Fisher and Paykel Finance and Fisher and Paykel Appliances.

Jo Clayton

Jo Clayton from Auckland, is a Director of Acumen International where she advises CEO’s and senior executive teams and facilitates strategic planning processes with client companies.


Jo is an associate of The Boardroom Practice Ltd where she provides board effectiveness reviews and works with SME’s to improve their governance practices. Her work currently includes a number of boards and advisory boards and she has held a number of governance roles in the past in various sectors including economic development, education and marine.  


Jo also works with the Icehouse at the University of Auckland’s Business School as a member of the directing team on programmes for Owners and Managers of established businesses. She has an MBA and a Bachelor of Education from Otago University.

Mike Taitoko

Mike is of Ngati Maniapoto descent and is the Managing Director of Waiora Pacific Ltd, a technology company commercialising cloud-based geo-analytic technologies. Prior to forming Waiora Pacific Ltd Mike founded Tuia Consulting, a pre-eminent Maori economic development-consulting firm.  

During his ten years with Tuia, Mike worked with Iwi and Maori organisations, private sector and government departments in New Zealand and the Pacific, providing commercial and economic development strategy and policy advice. Mike has a number of independent directorships and he sits on the Massey University College of Business Advisory Board, was an active school board member for 15 years and has advised into the secondary and tertiary education sectors. He has an MBA (with distinction) from Massey University.

Susan Hansen

Susan has previous experience in a ‘Big Four’ Accounting Firm and a Wall Street investment bank. Since 1990 she has been involved in education including University of Auckland Graduate School of Management. She is a director of a company listed on the London Stock Exchange and she chairs the Audit Committee of an Australian Public Company.

Questions? We’d love to hear from you.