Pick a public service, and it's likely Veronika Karashvili has made an impact there at some point.

A business transformation specialist, she’s worked on programmes everywhere from the Ministries of Education, Primary Industries and Justice, to Immigration New Zealand, the New Zealand Police and the Departments of Labour and Corrections.

But there’s a unifying theme to her public sector work: creating change for the greater good.

“I deliberately stayed in the public sector for most of my career because anything you do in that setting has a longer-term and outcomes-driven implication for the betterment of society and for New Zealand,” says Veronika.

After more than two decades in the public sector, she has now made the call to switch to the private sector with a new role as a Programme Director at Datacom.

So, why the change?

“My role here at Datacom is very much in the vein of driving and improving our delivery services and delivery capabilities to our key customers, many of which are government departments,” she says.

“Datacom is a large, homegrown, well-loved and respected company. Everything that Datacom does in New Zealand stays in New Zealand, so the work we get involved in, specifically in the government sector, contributes towards those greater-good outcomes.”

Veronika came to her passion for creating positive change in New Zealand, by way of her studies in her home country, Georgia, and then a role in China.

After studying Mandarin in Georgia, she gained a scholarship for further study in China before putting her language skills to use in the Beijing office of Immigration New Zealand.

“That was my introduction to New Zealand culture and New Zealanders,” she says. “I never thought I would end up in New Zealand, but that’s what started my journey to coming here.”

Her work with Immigration New Zealand ultimately led her to its head office in Wellington in 2003 (after roles in Australia, Thailand and Fiji). There she took on a business analyst role on a transformation project that reshaped the process for assessing skilled migrants.

“That truly opened up a whole new world for me – the world of project management, programme management and change leadership. That’s when I decided to move into transformation and change, and I’ve basically stayed in this area ever since.”

She has since worked on a raft of programmes, across a swathe of public services. She led the project management office and worked as a project advisor on the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment’s deployment of the Immigration Global Management System (IGMS) visa processing system – a large and complex project involving a team of more than 200.

In another initiative, she led programme management for the rollout of mental health and reintegration services across 18 prisons for Corrections, while another, for the Ministry of Justice, involved trialling ways for those in custody to make their first court appearance remotely.

“In a broader sense these change initiatives are about improving societal outcomes – ultimately, making life better and more equitable for people who need support to prosper.”

Veronika wearing a red dress and black blazer, smiling with a hand on her hip
Veronika Karashvili has joined Datacom as a Programme Director after nearly two decades working on public sector projects - and she wants to continue working on projects that make a difference for New Zealanders and for the country.

Another common thread through all projects, she says, has been the deployment of technology.

“You can't deliver efficient, effective services without having the underlying technological tools that make things easier, more straightforward and more enjoyable for people to engage with,” she says. “And the potential to keep expanding the horizons to improve services for people through the use of technology is endless.”

Veronika had experience of Datacom as a customer too, when it provided technology services and solutions for projects on which she’s worked, including IGMS. She observed that the company’s ability to co-locate staff alongside project teams helped create a coherent, high-performing unit, and avoided an ‘us versus them’ mentality that can blight some transformation initiatives.

Now she’s in the Datacom fold, she’s looking forward to continued leadership of programmes and people working across sectors, organisations and initiatives with complex stakeholder dynamics.

Datacom’s reputation for offering learning and development opportunities, and encouraging staff to take on new challenges, is also something the keen reader, traveller and speaker of four languages is ready to embrace.

“Maintaining a growth mindset is absolutely key and I think that's why Datacom and the tech industry is of interest to me, because you have to continue evolving, learning and innovating. That basically underpins any sort of success and progression, whether individually or as a society,” she says.

“I keep trying to grow and challenge myself – and helping Datacom deliver digital transformations is my next big challenge.”

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