Our People

Board of Directors

Members of the Board are appointed for three years by the Minister of Foreign Affairs in consultation with the Board Chair. This period may be extended by the Minister for up to a further three years.
Members are collectively accountable to the Minister of Foreign Affairs for the performance of Antarctica New Zealand. All delegated functions and powers within Antarctica New Zealand arise from the Board's delegations. The Board’s role is governance.

Senior Leadership Team

Our people and our culture drive the success of Antarctica New Zealand, and that hasn’t changed over the past 60 years. Our vision and values also form an integral part of how we go about our business. The Antarctica New Zealand Senior Leadership Team sets, evaluates, and aligns the strategic direction of Antarctica New Zealand within the organisation.


Sarah Williamson - Chief Executive

Sarah joined Antarctica New Zealand as CEO in June 2019, following a long career with Air New Zealand in a number of executive roles. She is leading the organisation through the largest project it’s ever undertaken, the Scott Base Redevelopment.

Before Sarah joined Antarctica New Zealand she was Group General Manager Business Performance at Air New Zealand, with broad accountabilities including group procurement, domestic and international airline operations, leadership of the airline’s global property portfolio and major projects including introduction of new aircraft, and design of new customer propositions.

Prior to this she led the Airline Operations and Regional Airline divisions. Sarah was the first woman in New Zealand to hold the Airline Chief Executive’s Operators Certificate with CAA, and has had experience in sales, customer services operations and human resources.

With a Masters in Psychology and a Bachelor of Science degree in Geography and Psychology Sarah has always been impressed with the work Antarctica New Zealand does to support science in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. During the summer season Sarah regularly travels south to Scott Base.

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Professor John Cottle - Chief Scientific Advisor

John has been a Professor of Geology at the University of California Santa Barbara for the past 12 years and has spent ten field seasons on the ice working with the New Zealand, United States and Italian programmes as both a guide and scientist. His research interests centre on the geologic evolution of Antarctica and the Himalaya, and he has published more than 120 scientific papers.

He began his career at the University of Otago undertaking an M.Sc in Antarctic geology. This was followed by a D.Phil at the University of Oxford and a postdoctoral position at the British Geological Survey.

John leads the Antarctica New Zealand science team, supporting the delivery of world-class research and the communication of research findings.

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Peter Smith - General Manager, Corporate Services and Strategy

Peter has led the Corporate Services team since joining Antarctica New Zealand in December 2003.
Peter is a Chartered Accountant who has undertaken a variety of senior finance roles in the Profession, in business and most recently in the public sector. He has managed corporate services teams for over 20 years and enjoys the variety this brings.
Peter has worked in New Zealand, Australia and the UK but considers the highlight to be the short times he's spent working in Antarctica!

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Simon Trotter - General Manager, Antarctic Operations

Simon has been involved with the Antarctic field operations, planning and science support for over ten years. Simon joined Antarctica New Zealand to lead the Field Training Team before moving into the area of operations planning and of science support. Simon has interests in Search and Rescue and represents Antarctica New Zealand on the NZ SAR Consultative Committee and at COMNAP as part of the Safety Advisory Group. As GM Antarctic Operations, Simon is passionate about the relationships between other National Antarctic Programmes, the team environment within the organisation and supporting the customers of Antarctic New Zealand.


Megan Nicholl - General Manager- Communications and People

Megan leads a passionate team of professionals who are focused on supporting our people, promoting Antarctic science and celebrating the logistical support that makes it all possible. Megan was a journalist for 20 years, 13 of that with TVNZ, before moving into corporate communications and human resources. She oversees Antarctica New Zealand’s Community Engagement Programme which takes media, educators and artists to the Ice to help tell our Antarctic story. Megan has travelled and lived around the world, but Te Tiri o te Moana (Antarctica) holds a special place in her heart as the last great wilderness on earth.

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Ceisha Poirot - General Manager, Policy, Environment and Safety

Ceisha has been involved in Antarctic policy and environmental management for 12 years, working in both the Science and Policy, Environment and Safety teams at Antarctica New Zealand. She has led the development and management of the Environmental Management System and more recently the Health and Safety Management System, focusing on the organisation's commitment to Zero Harm. She is currently the New Zealand representative to the Committee for Environmental Protection and the expert group leader of the Council of Manager of National Antarctic Programmes Environmental Protection Group.