UniServices appoints new Executive Director - Finance

UniServices has appointed Hamish MacKenzie as Executive Director – Finance.

Hamish MacKenzie

MacKenzie is a trained Chartered Accountant with over 20 years of experience in senior financial roles. He will be at the forefront of several key system implementations and improvements at UniServices. 

With a background spanning both corporate and public service organisations, MacKenzie is excited that UniServices brings together elements of both. Public good is a common theme in the commercialisation of Waipapa Taumata Rau, University of ӰAPPresearch, while sound financial management is essential for planning ahead and reinvesting for future growth, he says.

“UniServices isn’t a typical company selling a product or widget; we're doing an awful lot across a very diverse range," says MacKenzie. "That's a challenge, because we have to be careful to maintain our focus on what we do and doing it well. At the same time, it's an opportunity, because we can go different directions in pursuing and polishing great ideas that have the potential to be unicorns."

A key value add for MacKenzie’s newly created role is to oversee a period of system and process changes while solidifying the finance team’s role as trusted advisors to the business, with a clear view of its moving parts. 

“Hamish has wealth of experience in strategic and operational leadership, with a strong skillset covering governance, risk management and audit,” says UniServices Chief Executive Officer Andy Shenk. “We are very fortunate to have appointed him to this critical role as we partner across the whole company to serve the organisation’s needs and deliver the impacts we all wish to make for the University and the wider community.”

MacKenzie joins UniServices from Babcock Limited where, for the past five years, he was the New Zealand CFO with responsibility for governance, finance, commercial and legal functions. In addition to providing commercial marine services, Babcock is the strategic maritime partner for the New Zealand Defence Force.

Prior to this, MacKenzie worked at the Commission for Financial Capability, owner of popular budgeting site . Passionate about financial literacy, for MacKenzie the role highlighted its importance in a society rife with potential financial pitfalls.

“I think it’s an area we can do better in, as a country – encouraging basic understanding of finances and how to do a budget,” he says.

MacKenzie says a continuous improvement mindset is important in his new role, which will involve asking questions and proactively looking at what’s working and what could be improved.

Improvements are already underway, with updates to core financial and HR systems being rolled out this year, in alignment with the University.

“Finance is about more than just the numbers,” he says, explaining that people aren’t necessarily excited by those. “It’s telling the story behind them, explaining why things have gone right or wrong, in a way that makes sense to people.” 

Outside of work, MacKenzie is excited about a few DIY projects he has on the go. Together, he and his wife have extensively refurbished several houses and he often spends weekends “swinging a hammer and firing a nail gun”. Describing himself as “on good terms” with Bunnings, he suspects they don’t realise he’s an accountant. But in a job known for its mental aerobics, MacKenzie finds it refreshing to upskill in more practical ways in his free time. He also has a young family, with a three-year-old son and another on the way.

The dedication of UniServices’ people, the exciting ideas and the ability to pursue them has stood out to MacKenzie. 

“We can do great things by balancing profit with public good,” says MacKenzie. “Long term, the leadership team and I have some fairly big growth targets we’d like UniServices to hit. Imagine if we could have a $100 million University of ӰAPPInventors’ Fund instead of $40 million. With growth comes a whole lot of opportunity to make an impact on this country and the world.”