The Team

Our team of consultants have varied backgrounds, including in central government, in-house corporate affairs and communications roles at leading New Zealand companies, public sector and journalism.
Our people hold degrees in politics, history, economics, public relations and marketing.

We have deep connections across media, business and the public sector as well as the right skills to nurture partnerships and long-term relationships.

We’re a creative bunch of people with a never-ending supply of smart, innovative ideas that reach the right people and outcomes for you.

GRC Partners + Porter Novelli is led by Managing Partner, Mark Watts and has a trans-Tasman board, led by Kirsten Mulley, CEO of GRACosway, who also serves as a director of Clemenger Group.

More than half of the firm’s consultants are shareholders in the Clemenger Group.
Mark Watts
Managing Partner
m: +64 27 250 4018
e: [email protected]
With a 25-year career advising chief executives, board members and a prime minister, Mark delivers expert advice in public affairs and strategic communications.

Mark has held senior positions and consulted at several of New Zealand’s leading companies, including BNZ, SkyCity and Telecom (now Spark).

Between 1996 and 2002, he was a press secretary for Rt Hon Helen Clark, Prime Minister of New Zealand.

Mark’s advice to his clients is informed by a deep strategic perspective, and his extensive networks across the worlds of New Zealand business, politics and the news media. Mark has a record of innovation in government relations and is proud to work closely with leaders of influential New Zealand businesses.

Mark is based in Auckland and regularly works in Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city and its central government hub.
Brad Pogson
Partner
m: +64 21 627 446
e: [email protected]
Brad has 12 years’ working in the public relations industry during which he has developed and led corporate reputation programmes for some of the world’s most recognised brands.

A previous ‘PR person of the Year’, Brad has worked in-house with Vodafone’s corporate affairs team and held senior agency roles in New Zealand and England, where he managed the press office function for BT and EE. He spent a year running his own firm before returning to Porter Novelli’s leadership in 2020.

A knack for connecting the dots between stakeholder interests, Brad brings specialist consultancy that combines industry knowledge and social awareness with communication excellence.

As comfortable ghost-writing for CEOs and managing complex issues as he is collaborating with brand and marketing teams, Brad has built a reputation for his storytelling ability, whether the audience is media, staff, customers, or shareholders.
Talani Meikle
Director
m: 64 22 5407910
e: [email protected]
Talani has over 15 years’ experience in senior roles in which she has led the public affairs function for a public sector agency, provided time-sensitive and critical advice to senior government ministers and delivered vital communications and research support to members of parliament.

She combines this government expertise with an eclectic array of experience – having co-owned and operated a successful hospitality business, managed the procurement and inventory functions for a multi-national manufacturer and even spent a short time as a tutor in social policy at Massey University of New Zealand.

Her career to date has spanned the private, public and political environments and allows her to quickly see the ‘big picture’ when advising clients on complex issues.

Talani has a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Massey University and a Certificate in applied business from Auckland University of Technology.
Sarah McMahon
Associate Director
m: +64 21 026 66310
e: [email protected]
A ex-regional journalist, Sarah has more than 15 years’ experience in media and public relations in Australia, the UK and New Zealand. 

She understands the complexities and pressure-points of an an in-house environement and brings this to her consulting.  Prior to GRC Partners + Porter Novelli, Sarah held both in-house and agency roles, in both the public and private sectors, most recently with Roche New Zealand as chief of staff and corporate engagement lead. 

Sarah has worked with a number of large global brands and has a particular strength in media relations and issues management, including leading a communications team in the public healthcare sector through  the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sarah takes a people-first approach, and knows that strong interpersonal relationships lead to the best outcomes for clients.

Charis Wood
Consultant
Charis is a values-driven consultant who is known for building strong and trusted relationships with clients and colleagues. In her day-to-day work, Charis plays a leading role in the creation and execution of strategic PR programmes for a diverse mix of corporate clients – with a focus on media relations.

Prior to consulting, her experience included marketing and communications work within not-for-profits Mark-A-Wish and Safekids Aotearoa, and in government agencies, where she was responsible for public engagement and participation in vital healthcare programmes.

A passion for sustainability and corporate giving, Charis understands the value in creating long-lasting partnerships and how best to leverage partnerships across platforms and audiences.

Charis has a Bachelor of Commerce from The University of Auckland, double majoring in International Business and Operations and Supply Chain Management.
Lous Hartley
Associate
Based in Auckland, Louis provides media relations and advice, as well as research and policy support on a range of client projects and assisting with government relations.

Prior to GRC + Porter Novelli, Louis was a part of NZX-listed telecommunications company Chorus’ corporate affairs team, working across ministerial engagement, media relations and corporate communications. 

Before joining Chorus, Louis worked for Parliamentary Services as a social media and communications advisor for his local Member of Parliament and has an active interest in politics while maintaining political connections through his volunteer work.

Louis has a Bachelor of Communication Studies from Auckland University of Technology with a major in Public Relations.

Nina Sekerovic
Executive Assistant to Mark Watts
e: [email protected]
m: +64 21 022 97587
An experienced legal executive and administrator, Nina joined GRC Partners + Porter Novelli after eight years in the legal industry.

While in the legal sector she developed strong organisational skills and an eye for detail drafting trust deeds, commercial lease documents, sale and purchase agreements and estate-related paperwork.

As an executive assistant, she approaches each task with dedication and professionalism, whether it's managing schedules, coordinating events, or conducting research.

Nina has a drive to continuously learn and improve and is always seeking out new challenges to grow, both professionally and personally. Nina has completed the Law Society’s Legal Executive Diploma and a Diploma in Applied Management from Open Polytechnic. Nina is volunteer baker for a variety of causes.
  • Mark Watts
    Managing Partner
    With a 25-year career advising chief executives, board members and a prime minister, Mark delivers expert advice in public affairs and strategic communications.

    Mark has held senior positions and consulted at several of New Zealand’s leading companies, including BNZ, SkyCity and Telecom (now Spark).

    Between 1996 and 2002, he was a press secretary for Rt Hon Helen Clark, Prime Minister of New Zealand.

    Mark’s advice to his clients is informed by a deep strategic perspective, and his extensive networks across the worlds of New Zealand business, politics and the news media. Mark has a record of innovation in government relations and is proud to work closely with leaders of influential New Zealand businesses.

    Mark is based in Auckland and regularly works in Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city and its central government hub.
  • Brad Pogson
    Partner
    Brad has 12 years’ working in the public relations industry during which he has developed and led corporate reputation programmes for some of the world’s most recognised brands.

    A previous ‘PR person of the Year’, Brad has worked in-house with Vodafone’s corporate affairs team and held senior agency roles in New Zealand and England, where he managed the press office function for BT and EE. He spent a year running his own firm before returning to Porter Novelli’s leadership in 2020.

    A knack for connecting the dots between stakeholder interests, Brad brings specialist consultancy that combines industry knowledge and social awareness with communication excellence.

    As comfortable ghost-writing for CEOs and managing complex issues as he is collaborating with brand and marketing teams, Brad has built a reputation for his storytelling ability, whether the audience is media, staff, customers, or shareholders.

    Highly networked, and a natural connector of people and ideas, Brad goes above and beyond to help clients deliver communications that have a lasting business impact.
  • Talani Meikle
    Director
    Talani has over 15 years’ experience in senior roles in which she has led the public affairs function for a public sector agency, provided time-sensitive and critical advice to senior government ministers and delivered vital communications and research support to members of parliament.

    She combines this government expertise with an eclectic array of experience – having co-owned and operated a successful hospitality business, managed the procurement and inventory functions for a multi-national manufacturer and even spent a short time as a tutor in social policy at Massey University of New Zealand.

    Her career to date has spanned the private, public and political environments and allows her to quickly see the ‘big picture’ when advising clients on complex issues.

    Talani has a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Massey University and a Certificate in applied business from Auckland University of Technology.
  • Amber McEwen
    Director
    Amber is a proven business leader and corporate affairs specialist that delivers strategic communications solutions to drive business results.

    She has a passion for people, a penchant for problem-solving and remains constantly curious.

    Her career to date has seen her lead the development and delivery of multidisciplinary communications and reputation management programmes for high profile global businesses, as well as local Kiwi success stories.

    Her expertise spans external communications and stakeholder engagement, issues and crisis management, marketing communications, internal and change communications, public affairs and sustainability strategy.

    Her calm and collected approach exudes confidence for clients and colleagues alike, while her combined in-house and agency experience brings a well-rounded and considered perspective to any challenge or opportunity.

    Previously corporate affairs director for DB Breweries, Amber sat on the executive team and played an active role in developing and embedding the organisation’s strategic and annual plans.

    She was an active member of the Packaging Forum Board, the Food & Grocery Council’s Sustainability Working Group and Chair of the Glass Packaging Forum Steering Committee, and brings this experience and big picture thinking to all her executive interactions.
  • John Redwood
    Associate Director
    Based in Auckland, John provides expert public affairs, corporate communications and crisis management counsel to a range of GRC Partners’ clients.

    John has more than 15 years of experience working in both consulting and in-house roles for a range of leading New Zealand businesses. John’s advisory experience spans agriculture, energy, healthcare, financial services, shipping and telecommunications, and includes roles with Westpac, Watercare and Fonterra.

    John’s prior experience as a business journalist combined with a long-held interest in public affairs affords him a sound understanding of New Zealand’s business and political landscape, as well as a broad professional network.
  • Charis Wood
    Consultant
    Charis is a values-driven consultant who is known for building strong and trusted relationships with clients and colleagues. In her day-to-day work, Charis plays a leading role in the creation and execution of strategic PR programmes for a diverse mix of corporate clients – with a focus on media relations.

    Prior to consulting, her experience included marketing and communications work within not-for-profits Mark-A-Wish and Safekids Aotearoa, and in government agencies, where she was responsible for public engagement and participation in vital healthcare programmes.

    A passion for sustainability and corporate giving, Charis understands the value in creating long-lasting partnerships and how best to leverage partnerships across platforms and audiences.

    Charis has a Bachelor of Commerce from The University of Auckland, double majoring in International Business and Operations and Supply Chain Management.
  • Bella Cartman
    Associate
    Based in Wellington, Bella provides research and policy support on a range of client projects that connect with the politics, policies and personalities of central government. Bella also provides administrative, communications and marketing assistance to colleagues across the firm.

    Prior to joining GRC Partners, she interned at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment in Wellington and a business consultancy for not-for-profits.

    Bella has a Bachelor of Arts and Science from the University of Otago, majoring in politics and economics. Her speciality subjects examined the intersection of politics with the news media, and behavioural economics, with a focus on game theory.

The Board

GRC Partners + Porter Novelli is a proud member of the Clemenger Group, New Zealand’s leading marketing and communications network.
We also have a close association with Australia’s leading public affairs and corporate and financial communications counsel, GRACosway; and are part of Porter Novelli’s global network. Our board, led by GRACosway CEO Kirsten Mulley, reflects these close ties.
Kirsten Mulley
CEO
GRACosway
Mark Watts
Managing Partner
GRC Partners + Porter Novelli
Richard King
Managing Partner – Public Affairs
GRACosway
Ben Wilson
Managing Partner – Transactions & Corporate
GRACosway
Vineh Charan
Finance Director
GRACosway
Brad Pogson
Partner
GRC Partners + Porter Novelli