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A Q&A with Kirsten Bockett-Smith, General Manager, Consulting & Engagement

27th May 2021

Author Kirsten Bockett-Smith

“We’re delighted to have someone of Kirsten’s calibre growing our Wellington business and continuing to deepen our understanding of public sector consulting, helping us to continue to evolve to deliver great outcomes, both from a business point of view and from a digital transformation perspective. Kirsten’s expertise and leadership really add a deeper level of capability to our growing clients and business.”

John Bessey, Davanti CEO


Tell us about your role.

I’m General Manager, Consulting & Engagement and I also take on a leadership role for our Wellington office. I started with Davanti in March and it’s been all go ever since.

In my role, my focus is on ensuring that our customers are looked after and that the outcomes they need are being delivered. It’s also to look after our people, to continue to build and grow our capability in Wellington and ensure that the Davanti way of doing things is embedded consistently in everything we deliver, supported by good practices, processes and methods.


Tell us a bit about your background.

I started out in my career as a business analyst, and ever since then understanding business problems has always been my foundation. In everything I do I start by seeking to understand an organisation or customer’s strategy and the outcomes they are trying to deliver – and what these outcomes mean for the organisation’s people and their customers and communities.

From business analysis I moved into CRM consultancy and leading CRM teams, and from there I moved into pure management consultancy, which has given me a broad understanding of strategy, transformation, change management and the full lifecycle of technology implementations.


What gets you out of bed in the morning?

The thing that gets me out of bed in the morning is definitely all about doing good for Aotearoa and working on things that help New Zealanders in their daily life.


A couple of months in, what are you most looking forward to achieving in your role in the year ahead?

In my most recent role before joining Davanti, I was involved in building a new Crown Entity and establishing its operating model. Through that programme I had a really great cultural learning and I’m really looking forward to being able to bring some of these learnings to Davanti, helping to shape and evolve an operating model that helps us deliver to the needs of our customers in an agile way and growing our cultural capability so that te ao Māori and manaakitanga are embedded in everything Davanti does.


From your experience and your conversations with public sector organisations right now, what’s top of mind for them when it comes to customer and citizen experience transformation?

And in light of this, looking to the year ahead, what are you thinking about and focusing on to help Davanti’s customers get closer to their customers and citizens?

Our world has changed, and organisations need to adapt to work in a new way.

Our employees are now increasingly working from home; organisations need less office floor space and robust remote working technology to maintain efficiency. Customers expect online channels to be comprehensive, responsive and low effort – and these changes all impact an organisation’s operating model. Becoming an adaptive organisation is critical to success in our current operating environment.

Adapting to these changes and building resiliency and agility in an organisation needs to be tackled from several lenses: as an experience transformation internally and externally.

Organisations need to support their employees, understanding the challenges and opportunities of working remotely and supporting these with new engagement rhythms and methods, tools, techniques and systems to enable them to stay connected to their organisation.

Customers want to experience an integrated service, to be recognised, to be able to easily control and vary their routes within and across digital channels to suit their needs at any given moment. To achieve this, organisations must fully understand their customers – their segments, their behaviours and patterns – and use these insights to develop and deliver personalised service offerings.

Ultimately, my focus is on ensuring that we are applying these lenses in all our conversations and engagements with our customers, helping our customers to create strategic, outcome-focused programmes of work, and delivering connected experiences for their people, end users, customers and communities.


What are you reading at the moment?

Grit by Angela Duckworth (you can find the TED Talk here too) – I love that having courage, resilience, endurance and being dependable are the keys to success and more important than talent. It is something I am teaching to my kids.

I also listen to a lot of podcasts while walking the dog and regularly tune in to Oprah’s Super Soul episodes


Sources of inspiration?

I am inspired to create positive change, contributing to great things that make life easier or better for New Zealanders. My sources of inspiration really come from my family, I have wonderful strong women role models who have always shown grit and lived long, healthy and fulfilling lives. I have an awesome husband who has always encouraged and supported me, so I feel pretty lucky.


Favourite quote or mantra to live by?

I am in competition with no one. I just aim to improve, to be better than I was before.