Who We Are
Inspire Group The Backstory
Shortly after everyone concluded Y2K was no longer a threat, Dan Tohill found himself frozen to the spot. His eyes and mouth were cast wide open like someone had twisted up the skin on the back of his head and he was drooling a little bit. He was having a life changer, so fair enough.
You see he’d realised that he was going to be the guy to assemble a crew and turn the learning and development industry on its conservatively coiffured head. Hyper-banal textbooks and spineless lectures had ironically just connected with their first person in decades. Across space and time they’d connected with Dan and unwittingly pleaded for him to orchestrate their demise. Through their sheer ineptitude, they’d inadvertently pointed him in the direction of all the smart people, design and technology in the world and told him to get a move on.
Dan began a quest to make learning more modern, exciting, intuitive and human. He built the platform for Inspire Group based on these convictions and set about recruiting people who shared his vision and had decent taste in music.
Dan TohillChief Executive Officer
+64 27 563 6801
Papa Dan is the Founder of Inspire Group and as far as leaders go there isn’t any better. He knows learning and what makes people tick better than anybody and asks the questions that no one thinks to ask. He genuinely wants others to be the best they can be and never asks anything of others he won’t do himself. He fights for everyone on our team and makes you feel like he’ll always have your back if you want to give something a go. He has a huge heart and a great head for what’s important. And he is the guitarist who David Gilmour says he’s always wanted to jam with. We love this guy!
Chrissy WebbFinance Manager
+64 27 292 3030
Chrissy is our finance manager here at Inspire Group but her skills go way beyond your normal finance manager role. Remember that scene in Pulp Fiction where “The Wolf” comes around to solve the problem, make sure everyone gets their money, and then disposes of the body while remaining calm the whole time? Well that is definitely not our Chrissy, but it’s her accounting nous that ensures we remain a solvent and profitable company and it’s much better working for one of those because while we love what we do, getting paid for what you do is even sweeter.
Suzanne BoydGeneral Manager, Inspire Assist
+64 21 430 670
Suz heads up Inspire Assist here at IG. So that means if you need someone on site to work on some learning stuff with you or there’s change afoot and you need someone who knows how to manage that change then get Suz on the case and she’ll find who you need. If that means driving to some remote village and being blindfolded so she can be taken to some secret location so she can try to persuade the best L&D Manager out there who one day decided to drop off the grid and swore he’d never go back unless there was a really good reason…Suz will give him that reason. She’s who you want in your corner.
Stu NeighbourDirector - Melbourne
+61 448 107 940
Stu is the guy who leads the Australian operation and is one of our super Learning Partners. He has a way of getting people excited about anything….except for camping; Stu likes his modern comforts. Anyway bygones. With his quirky brain and his grounding as learning designer with a different lens on how people learn, he’s the guy you want to get in a room with and get creative. Stu’s a loveable rogue with a ridiculously wide range of interests and profound knowledge of each. He can talk sports with the sports-buffs, comics with the nerds, movies with the cinephiles, literature with the bookworms and music with musos. He’ll map out your solution with you so you can see yourself in what we build because that’s what it’s all about people. We’re making something that lasts.
James McCullochDirector of Leadership
+64 27 248 8848
James is the director of leadership development here at Inspire. He is one of those unflappable sorts with a constant smile on his face- so he does love to turn your big leadership challenge into a positive, and lead our fantastic team in making that promise happen. Having travelled the world as a leader and CEO in the public, non-profit and advocacy sectors, James has now made New Zealand and Inspire his home, and can think of no greater place from which to change the face of leadership development globally! He is a positive, engaging and determined guy- who we love to see leading by example every day- whether in growing our leadership world at Inspire, enticing his 2 boys away from the screen and into the outdoors, or in his latest crazy road cycling challenge! Because who said leadership development only applies to organisations?… it starts with how you lead yourself!
Beth EmerreGlobal Talent Partner
+64 22 677 5607
About Beth, she finds awesome people and then she maintains strong and loyal relationships with them. She’s been really good at matching the right person to the client’s need and has a bloody good hit-rate, so much so that we took her for ourselves and she now finds really awesome associates for our overflow projects and our permanent team members across all four regions.
She doesn’t give up and just quietly she manages to get a result while somehow keeping everyone happy … she’s easily underestimated because she looks so sweet, but like the members of the deadly viper assassination squad, that sweetness is combined with an ability to kick some serious butt.
Mereana BeconciniMarketing Manager
+64 27 250 0830
Mereana is our Marketing Manager. Her background is in advertising so she knows all about the power of persuasion and how to get people to do what you want. Make sure you’re not alone with Mereana as you’ll end up not only buying an online module and a board game, but a beach front villa at Aitutaki and the new convertible Volvo that you really love but it’s just too impractical isn’t it?
Danny KendrickDigital Lead
Like every great tech expert there’s more to Danny than meets the eye. He’s smart (like, Einstein-esk) – tick, he talks in techo-speak – tick, and builds things (not with wood or nails) – tick. So, nothing unusual there you might say. But what you don’t know about Danny, and few have guessed it, is his penchant for Mentos, of the fruit variety. Just check out his desk, it’s littered with tins of all varieties; he’s not fussy. So now that we know what powers that huge brain, we can let him get on with it – that is, working with his team of Visual Designers, Graphic Designers, Coders and Motion Graphics experts who can concentrate in their own genius-zones and create things of the future. Obviously we don’t want to speak out of turn, but this guy is developing some pretty amazing stuff that’ll turn the world of learning on its head. Just watch this space…..and be prepared.
Amy ThorntonInstructional Designer | Project Manager
Amy is an instructional designer here at Inspire Group and is a safe pair of hands to deliver you the learning experience that we promised. Those safe hands may come from her ability to play a fine game of Ultimate in her downtime which seems to be whenever she’s not in the office.
She’s a great storyteller is our Amy and will weave that in to your solution so that your audience gets the why just as much as the what, how and when.
Emma PalmerProject Coordinator
+64 4 471 4647
Emma is one of those no nonsense types. As part of our resourcing team Emma ensures everyone is doing what they should be doing when they should be doing it. She keeps the team on the straight and narrow making sure the client is never left waiting. No excuses get past Emma. She will wait you out until you agree to that deadline. She does it all by stealth with a knowing smile.
AJ GroveSenior Instructional Designer | Project Manager
AJ is a senior instructional designer and project manager here at the House of IG. So she makes awesome stuff but she’s great at nailing the tricky stuff as well as the ID 101 that we all do from time to time. Got a problem you can’t quite get your head around and need some kickass consulting to ask the questions that never occurred to you? AJ will ask some beauties. And then she’ll invite you to go to the gym with her and do some crazy workout that involves burpees. You can say no – but she is persistent.
Todd HammingtonDesign Lead
Todd is a humble soul with an eye for all things beautiful. He is part of our exceptional graphic design team. Whether it’s creating beautiful design with the learner in mind or collecting gold medals on the world stage for Karate Todd will push the envelope. He is humble too which his clients love. Did we say that already? He didn’t tell us about his gold medal. We had to Google it. That’s how humble Todd is.
Anglia MarjadiInstructional Designer | Technology Specialist
Anglia is the smartest person in this place. Ask anyone. I mean we’re all smart but Anglia is SMART. Need a storyboard built quick as that’s as good as it gets? Anglia will nail it. Need an LMS implemented but don’t know who to call? Anglia will look after you. Need to know the history of the chupacabra in South America. Well Anglia may not be able to help there since it doesn’t exist (even though it does) but you see what we’re saying. Anglia RULES.
Jacob HinaInteractive Developer
Jake. Jake. Jake. What to say about this man? He’s been here longer than most of us and lives this place and what it means by just being his take-no-prisoners-in-his-mech-inspired-body-armoured self. He’s a developer and makes great online learning 24/7 (literally – he never goes home) but Jake has the learner’s interests at heart and always asks the questions that the end user wants someone to ask so the experience doesn’t suck. And if he sees something isn’t up to what he believes the bar should be then the Ragezilla comes out. And it is glorious. Ragnarök!
Gemma SidesLeadership Design Manager
+64 27 420 8078
Gemma is an instructional designer here at IG with more of a leadership focus. She is a deep thinker our Gemma. Many’s the time that Gemma will be in the corner thinking and we’ll forget she’s there until she drops some knowledge on the room and watches the fallout. Gemma practices what she preaches too and has been building and developing herself over the last couple of years transforming herself into Gemma 3.0. She also blogs and tweets and durps and has that social media stuff nailed so if you’re wanting some advice on that side of things then go no further.
Aidan StoateLeadership Development Manager
Aidan heads up Leadership Learning in Auckland. After 5 years running his own, award-winning business he’s pretty much seen it all. This Brit, who we identified as the perfect person to launch Leadership Learning in Auckland, made the leap from Canada to New Zealand after doing the intrepid travel thing through North America and Asia. With Aidan, looks can be deceiving. He has the slick and stylish exterior of a James Bond but dig a little deeper and you’ll find it’s a thin shell concealing an inner, uncannily accurate Steve Coogan. And just quietly, he loves to invent, well, interesting things…..just ask him. Dare you!
+64 (0)27 204 8260
Hannah FlynnDelivery Manager
Her name is Hannah but we call her Flynzies. We used to call her Menzies before she got married. And we love that name so have kept half of it around. Flynzies is the functional lead for project management in our business so she’s all about numbers. She asks for presents to be wrapped in Excel spreadsheet paper; that’s how much she loves numbers. But she loves the solution part too and what we build so she’s a visual person with creativity that loves numbers and projects. An enigma indeed. It’s like she’s some secret agent. Which is why we just call her Flynzies
Shaiza WanPeople Partner
When you first meet Shaiza you can be forgiven for thinking she’s quiet and benign, a real sweetie. But give it time, and then you’ll see the real Shaiza Wan, aka SWan. Like any secret weapon you don’t see her coming until it’s too late. Like a swan, she glides towards you looking fabulous, and then she strikes. Before you know it you’ve agreed to do an awesome, world beating piece of work that you’d only dreamed of doing, and you’re loving every minute of it. After 15 years of knowing where to find the perfect person for an organisation seeking expert help, and finding incredible projects for experts in their field to work on, Shaiza has earned a reputation of being the secret weapon Inspire has kept quiet for all this time, but now the secret’s out. Warning! Do not underestimate the power of the Swan.
Jayne MontgomeryGraphic Designer
Jayne makes things beautiful! Like seriously beautiful. She is part of our Graphic Design team. Her ability to turn words in to into visual candy for the learner is amazing. Jayne is calm, she is considered and she really keeps the learner and your brand in mind when creating learning experiences. Mwah to Jayne.
Mary is one of our fantastic team of instructional designers here at Inspire Group. She has a way of making learning easy and engaging, which translates to you getting to leave work early for drinks. Win-win, I say.
With her former life working at National Geographic, Mary will skilfully help you navigate the e-learning world, avoid potential pitfalls, and discover new ways to skin a proverbial cat. Not a real cat, because that would be wrong.
Katy RhodesQuality Assurance & Editor
Katy is our editor at Inspire Group. She is our quality assurance person so checks everything we make before we send it out for grammar, punctuation and some old fashioned common sense. Did you know that a kidlet is a very little kid? Neither did I. But Katy did. She is our wordsmith, our ink-slinger if you will. There’s no better feeling than a returned piece of work from Katy with no red pen and a knowing smile. It’s what our ID’s live for.
Matt BidwellInstructional Designer
Matt is one of our instructional designers and likes nothing more than working on storyboards that turn mind numbing “wish I could get my soul back after reading that document” content into something that will make you learn and smile. There may be an obscure reference to a Pixies song in there somewhere but that’s what you want in your learning right*? A bit of life? A bit of attitude? Matt has attitude. Maybe too much. Actually the guy has a mouth on him, but what are you going to do? He’s family.
*If you don’t want a Pixies song don’t worry our QA process will pick it up.
Angela HalesLearning Designer
Angela, or Ange if you know her well, and you will, is a Learning Designer with the Melbourne team. She’s a bundle of brightness and smiles with a brain of…well…plasticity. And she knows it! If you catch her on public transport you’ll see her devouring podcasts, learning design books, blogs, TED talks…you name it, she’s on it and using it all to inform her practise – whether it’s needs analysis, gamification, e-learning or facilitated workshops. She’s a goal setter and achiever and one of her goals is to design learning you will love.
Mike GrayLead Motion Designer
Mike is the guy when you want to make stuff move, and look rad and just jump off the screen and slap you in the face with its badassery. He writes and draws and animates like he sees the world – with a bemused look and a knowing glint in his eye. He is super talented at so many things but keeps them to himself as he is not one to boast. He has a wicked sense of humour and his voice is like a fine whisky aged in a barrel soaked in honey in the late autumn sun of a barn that is the best spot to hang out at on a tangerine day. He has a style and a way about him that is from a simpler more noble time where etiquette really meant something and saying nothing at all was as important as having something to say.
Natasha Van Schalkwyk
Natasha Van Schalkwyk
Kimberley MacGibbonInstructional Designer | Project Manager
Kimberley is an instructional designer here at IG. She has a slightly tilted head way of looking at the world does our Kimberley which is why we knew we must have her. Being able to geek out at will is a key requirement of working with us and Kimberley could run a masterclass on how one does this. Perhaps we’ll offer it as a public course next year? She also gives seriously good hugs. Not enough hugs in the world we say!
Russell McleodInstructional Designer | Documentation Specialist
Ok, so it’s not the best moniker but Russell is just the nicest guy and in this day and age when so many people aren’t nice isn’t good to know that you’re working with a flat out good guy? Russell is an instructional designer here at IG but what really gets him excited is doing doco stuff. He loves it. So if you’ve got lots of stuff you need documented and you don’t know where to start and you wonder how you got to this stage in your life with this problem in front of you, then turn around. Yep Russ is there and he’s going to take all the bad stuff away and give you a hug because that’s what nice guys do. And he will call you tomorrow.
Leanne Kjestrup-TraueInstructional Designer
Leanne is an instructional designer. She is so skilled she would easily be a member of the deadly viper assassination squad if they were looking for new members. She also lives in Hamilton. Which means she can party hard when required and is comfortable discussing cars or cows at any time. She’s worked as an ID in organisations and outside of them too so she knows all the stuff clients deal with on a daily basis and how she can make their life easier. And if you ever need a singer for an event then have we got the voice for you!
Shaheeda KoyaInstructional Designer | Project Manager
P +64 4 471 4647 ext 831
Shaheeda is one of our wonderful instructional designers and project managers. But what makes her so special? Well you’ll have to meet her to fully get how awesome she is. Shaheeda just makes you feel good. Go on – have a meeting with her! You’ll walk away just feeling warm and glowy (yes it’s a word). She puts as much care into her relationships as she does into the learning she creates and both are better because of her involvement. Ok – gush over. As you were.
Lira Cortes-JonesDelivery Manager
+61 3 8679 4521 ex 847
Lira is our delivery management guru in Australia.
What does this mean? Lira takes the projects from the account team and ensures that your project is delivered to you on time and on budget, with communication that works for you and a great experience along the way. And she is smart. Supersmart. Interstellar smart.
Born in Chile and fluent in Spanish, Lira can also converse in Spanish with any members of your team which is a huge bonus for those that speak Spanish!
Alecia ThompsonAccount Manager
Leish is our Inspire hurricane – she’ll blitz through your life uncontrollably, but instead of leaving devastation in her wake, she’ll leave rainbows and butterflies and wisdom and aroha. Her energy is contagious, and she really knows her stuff. She’s the perfect person to consult with on anything learning-related… but steer clear of talking about family, OCD or cleaning, or you’ll never get a word in.
She can talk knowledgeably about anything and everything, and is a firm believer in owning who you are… which is easy for her to say, because she is fabulous personified. She’s completely committed to her clients, and will be whatever you need her to be. We need her to be awesome, and she nails it every single day.
+64 22 034 5898
Heading up Assist in Auckland, Michael is the kind of guy you instantly find you have a lot in common with. He’s made that his business and he’s a natural – he loves people! So it kinda makes sense for him to work with our Associates to make sure they’re aptly skilled and ready to step into any project that our clients need an extra pair of hands for. But hold up, there’s more to this guy than meets the eye. Think John Travolta. Remember that white suit? Yep, that’s Michael, dancer extraordinaire with moves to boot. And if that wasn’t enough he’s got a story for every occasion. For that reason alone he’s a great person to hang out with over a coffee. Give him a call, you won’t regret it!
+64 27 517 4554
A straight talker and a deep thinker, Kowhai has a beautiful way of delving deep to understand a client’s challenge and can define a learning solution that will delight. It doesn’t take long before you notice a streak of rebel peeking through that serene veneer; it might be the bright yellow nails, or the cheeky giggle that comes from nowhere, either way you know that not all is what it seems. It’s better!
Isabelle MetzGraphic Designer
Born in San Francisco to raver parents, Iz has inherited a love for art & design, as well as a so-laidback-she’s-horizontal approach to life. Talent runs in her blood (her grandad was the brainchild of the KFC bucket but no, she doesn’t get free chicken for life. I asked) and she oozes creative flair and brilliance from every chilled out pore. You’ll find her rocking out to her vast record collection, reading an old-school sci-fi or graphic novel or geeking up on typography. A total hipster in the truest sense of the word (no questionable facial hair here), Iz brings sunshine and sass to our Welly office and we can’t remember what our lives were like B.I. (Before Iz).
Nicolette VeltmanLeadership Development Manager
Who knew that Nic, one of our first clients in the early 2000’s, would after years of being our client finally join our family? Flattered doesn’t come close. Nic’s been on our list of amazing human beings for, well… ever really. She’s a roll up her sleeves and gets stuck in kind of gal, whether it’s working towards her goal of becoming a pro paddle boarder, or helping clients develop kick ass leadership programmes. Nic lives and breathes the world of leadership. Her committed, hands-on approach comes from years of running her own business, developing and selling property and maintaining her ‘can do helpful’ reputation. Add this to her first generation kiwi status, and we’re looking at super woman crossed with the woman you always want on your side.