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The Leadership Team is responsible for leading and managing the Guardians as an organisation. 

  • Jo Townsend

    Jo Townsend

    BMathFin Chief Executive Officer

    Jo joined the Guardians in April 2024, after spending 8 years as Chief Executive Officer at Funds SA in South Australia. She has more than 30 years experience within investment management working in various technical and general management roles within a range of organisations in Australia including REST Industry Super, NGS Super, Retirement Benefits Fund, Value Capital Management, and Rothschild Australia Asset Management. Jo has a Bachelor of Mathematics and Finance from the University of Technology, Sydney and is a certified Investment Management Analyst from the Investment Management Consultants Association.

  • Stephen Gilmore

    Stephen Gilmore

    MCom, GAICD Chief Investment Officer

    Stephen joined the Guardians in 2019. As Chief Investment Officer, he is responsible for overseeing the Asset Allocation, Strategic Tilting, Sustainable Investment, Investment Data & Analytics, External Investments & Partnerships, and Direct Investment teams.

    Prior to this, Stephen was the Chief Investment Strategist at the Future Fund, Australia's sovereign wealth fund.  In this role he was responsible for Investment Strategy, Investment Risk, Derivative Overlays and Investment (technology) Solutions.  Earlier in his career Stephen held senior strategy roles in London and Hong Kong with AIG Financial Products and Morgan Stanley.  He has also worked with the International Monetary Fund in Washington.

  • Photo of Cristina Billett

    Cristina Billett

    General Manager, Corporate Affairs

    Cristina is the Chair of the Risk Committee, she joined the Guardians in 2009 following roles in both law firms and as in house counsel in the financial services industry. Prior to going inhouse, Cristina spent several years as a senior legal associate at Herbert Smith Freehills in Australia and worked at law firm Bell Gully. Cristina has substantial experience in financial services with expertise across various facets of law including mergers and acquisitions, corporate and commercial law, health and safety, public law and governance.

  • Mika Austin

    Mika Austin

    LLB/BA General Manager, Human Resources

    Prior to joining the Fund as Head of Human Resources in 2012, Ms Austin was a Senior Associate with Russell McVeagh, specialising in commercial litigation. She has also worked for the Financial Services Authority in London. Ms Austin has a LLB/BA from the University of Auckland.

  • brad dunstan

    Brad Dunstan

    BCom/PGDipMgt General Manager, Portfolio Completion (Acting)

    Brad joined the Guardians in September 2013 as Head of Portfolio Completion. Prior to joining the Guardians Brad had worked for Cannacord Genuity in London as Co-Head of European Equity Derivatives. Brad Spent  11 Years working in London for various investment banks including Bear Stearns and JP Morgan. Brad holds an BCom from the University of Canterbury and a Post Graduate Diploma in Management. Brad is a member of the New Zealand Institute of Directors and is currently the chair of the Kohimarama School Board of Trustees.

  • Mark Fennell

    Mark Fennell

    MSocSc (Hons), Chartered Accountant (CAANZ), Member of the Institute of Finance Professionals New Zealand (INFINZ), Member of the Institute of Directors in New Zealand (MInstD) General Manager, Risk

    Mark joined the Guardians in 2007 as General Manager, Operations. In 2012 he was appointed General Manager, Portfolio Completion and in 2021 he was appointed to the newly created role of General Manager, Risk.

    Prior to this, he worked for The Warehouse Group where he held roles as Company Secretary, Treasurer and Chief Risk Manager. Mark also has considerable public sector experience in State Owned Enterprises, working as Treasurer for the Forestry Corporation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and NZ Railways Corporation respectively.

  • paula steed web 022024

    Paula Steed

    BCA, CA General Manager, Strategy and Shared Services

    Paula joined the Guardians in July 2021, from ASB Bank where she was the Chief Internal Auditor. Paula has 25 years experience in financial services and banking, starting her career as an auditor with professional services firm Deloitte and holding various executive finance and general management roles with AMP, ANZ and ASB. Paula is a Chartered Accountant, and has a BCA majoring in Accounting and Commercial Law from Victoria University.

  • David Sara

    David Sara

    BMS(Hons), MBS(Dist) General Manager, Technology

    David Sara joined the Guardians in 2009. He has substantial experience in financial services, including as Head of Strategy with UK-based Platform Home Loans, Head of Venture Development for Lloyds Banking Group and Manager of Strategic Planning for the National Bank of New Zealand.