New Executive Director for Primary ITO

2 March 2023

Primary ITO’s current Executive General Manager Education and Engagement Andrea Leslie is stepping up to head the organisation, with Nigel Philpott taking on a new challenge as chief executive at Nelson City Council.

Andrea has been with Primary ITO since 2017 and on the executive leadership team since 2020. She has spent over 30 years in the vocational education sector as well as sheep and beef farming. She is based in Timaru and splits her time between working there and Wellington.

At the start of the year, Primary ITO became a business division of Te Pūkenga, having joined its work-based learning subsidiary during 2022.

As well as becoming Executive Director, Andrea will retain responsibility for leading Primary ITO’s education provision, programme and product development, business development and customer engagement across seafood, dairy, meat and fibre, horticulture, and primary services industries.

"It’s an exciting time for people wanting to train in the primary industries, and for employers wanting to upskill their teams,” says Andrea.

"As part of Te Pūkenga, Primary ITO can ensure that people can learn the right skills, at the right time and in the way that suits them, wherever they work in the sector.
“We’re well on the way to transforming how applied vocational and on-the-job learning is organised and delivered. As part of the wider Te Pūkenga organisation, we’ll keep making sure employers and learners are our focus, and look for better ways to support them.”

Work Based Learning Business Divisions Managing Director Toby Beaglehole says Andrea brings significant leadership experience to her new role.

"Andrea is a vocational education expert with experience in campus-based learning at Ara and Aoraki as well as in work-based learning, along with a strong suit in governance and hands-on farming experience.”

Toby says Nigel has made a significant impact at Primary ITO. “He has shown real commitment and an undeniable passion for the primary sector, and has led his team and kaimahi (staff) through change and challenge.”

In 3-1/2 years with Primary ITO, Nigel has overseen multiple new training programme offerings, engagement with an increasing number of sectors, a big lift in apprenticeship numbers, and major revamps of several of Primary ITO’s systems. He has also led Primary ITO during the Government’s Reform of Vocational Education, as it transitioned into Te Pūkenga.


A message from Nigel Philpott

Tēnā koe 

I hope you are well, wherever you are in the country. I’m very much conscious that many in our sector – as well as members of our own team here at Primary ITO – are in the midst of a huge cyclone clean-up. My heart goes out to those of you in the affected areas. At Primary ITO, many of our people are looking for ways to help, as is the wider community of Te Pūkenga.  

The passion of Primary ITO people for their sector is a big part of what has made my time here so rewarding. I’m proud to have led the organisation into Te Pūkenga. I do feel that now is a good time to be handing on the baton to Andrea Leslie, supported by others across Primary ITO and Te Pūkenga. 

The support Primary ITO and I have received from our sectors, and especially from the people who have given their time to our Industry Partnership Groups, has helped us build our understanding of the sectors, to better support their training needs. 

I am particularly pleased that Andrea is stepping into the role as Executive Director for Primary ITO. She has enormous knowledge of both our education sector and the primary sector, and mana across both. She is trusted by Te Pūkenga leaders. 

I am also looking forward to my new role as chief executive of Nelson City Council. It’s a vibrant and diverse area, with lots of interesting business (including many Primary ITO customers and learners), more scientists per capita than anywhere else in New Zealand, access to blue water ocean through the port, and a great lifestyle. 

Primary ITO has a bright future inside Te Pūkenga and I’ll continue to keep a very interested eye on progress.  

Best wishes 

Nigel Philpott