VSA’s success in a fast-changing world, says VSA’s new chief executive, Stephen Goodman, relies on never losing sight of VSA’s point of difference as a values-based, partnering development organisation.

Stephen Goodman

New VSA chief executive Stephen Goodman says the role is a great way to build on his career of international service in the Air Force.

“There’s a new generation coming through. We have to adjust to build on the incredible work VSA has done in the past while still embodying our values and principles in what we do.”

Long before he completed 33 years in the Royal New Zealand Air Force in June, Stephen had decided to work in the not-for-profit sector. “My career had been about service in that international space,” he says. “When I became aware of the VSA vacancy, I thought ‘That sounds like me’.”

VSA’s appointments panel agreed. After a two-month break between jobs, Stephen had his first day at VSA on 4 September. Council chair Evan Mayson was delighted: “He brings considerable international, strategic and operational leadership experience, a focus on bringing teams together and getting the best from their collective efforts.”

Stephen held a range of leadership roles in the Air Force and wider Defence Force, serving across South East Asia, Australia and the Pacific. He was deployed on peace keeping operations in Timor-Leste and the Solomons and was the Defence Attaché at the New Zealand High Commission in Singapore.

Studies for Masters degrees at Massey University and Deakin University in Melbourne allowed him study trips to China, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Japan. At Deakin, he concentrated on non-traditional security threats in the Pacific such as unemployment, corruption and particularly climate change.

Everything VSA does is to build communities in the wider South Pacific, he says, and one aim is to mainstream VSA a bit more so that a wider range of New Zealanders see it as something they can do.

One month into the new job, he’s enjoying meeting people and coming to grips with the new role: “Absolutely no regrets so far,” he says.