Our people

We have a Secretary of Defence who is also the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Defence, and our senior leadership team includes five deputy secretaries.

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Andrew Bridgman: Secretary of Defence

Andrew Bridgman became the Secretary of Defence and Chief Executive of the Ministry of Defence on 1 July 2019.

Before becoming Secretary of Defence, Andrew was the Chief Executive and Secretary for Justice, commencing that role in August 2011.

Andrew was previously the Deputy Chief Executive, Ministry of Health from 2007, and from August 2010 to January 2011 was the Acting Chief Executive and Director-General of Health

Prior to joining the Ministry of Health, Andrew was Deputy Secretary, Policy and Legal Group, Ministry of Justice. Andrew began his career in the Public Service in 1991 as a Senior Solicitor in the Ministry of Māori Development. He has a Bachelor of Laws Degree from Victoria University of Wellington and worked as a Solicitor in Rudd Watt and Stone (now Minter Ellison).

Andrew has led substantial change management programmes in large, complex departments and has been responsible for developing justice policy and advice to Ministers on matters relating to criminal justice and crime prevention, constitutional law, human rights and public and commercial law.

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Mike Yardley: Acting Deputy Secretary of Defence

Mike Yardley was appointed Deputy Secretary Capability Delivery in March 2016. He is currently Acting Deputy Secretary of Defence.

Previously Mike served as Chief of Air Force, Royal New Zealand Air Force, holding the rank of Air Vice-Marshal. He has held many senior roles within the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) including Air Component Commander Joint Force NZ and Chief of Staff Headquarters NZDF.  As Assistant Chief of Air Force – Capability he led the RNZAF Capability Directorate dealing with both major and minor capital programmes including introduction into service plans for the B757, P-3 Orion and C-130 upgrades.  He worked with the Ministry of Defence to obtain government approval for the A109 Light Utility Helicopter. Mike was NZDF Project Manager for the P-3 Orion Systems Upgrade, spending four years working on the project in both New Zealand and the United States.

In 2010 Mike was part of the team that designed and established the NZDF Capability Branch, and was Head of the Programme Management Office.

Mike began his career in 1981 as a Navigator on 5 Squadron, and later became Commanding Officer of 5 Squadron.

Mike has a Master of Strategic Studies from the Air University, Alabama and a Diploma in Military Studies from Massey University.  He has studied at the Royal College of Defence Studies and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

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Richard Burn: Acting Deputy Secretary Capability Delivery

Richard Burn is the Director Land Domain at the Ministry of Defence. He is currently Acting Deputy Secretary Capability Delivery. Previously, Richard was a management consultant based in Wellington, working on large capability projects, organisational development and change programmes in the private and public sector. Prior to working as a consultant, Richard had a 26-year career with the Royal Air Force and then services with the Royal New Zealand Air Force in the Directorate of Logistics from 2005-2007.

Richard brings strong commercial, financial and negotiation skills. He is an advocate of continuous improvement methodologies and implementing lean and six sigma principles within organisations.

Richard has a Master of Science in Engineering Business Management from the University of Warwick, a Higher Certificate in Aeronautical Engineering from the Royal Naval Engineering College, and a Diploma in Management from the United Kingdom Institute of Management.

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Gillian Warren: Deputy Secretary Independent Review

Gillian Warren was appointed to the role of Deputy Secretary Independent Review in June 2017. Tū Aromatawai Independent Review is responsible for carrying out performance assessments of both the New Zealand Defence Force and the procurement function of the Ministry of Defence.

Gillian has worked in the national security sector since 2004. Her experience includes nine years in the Intelligence Community, and time on secondment with both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the NZ Customs Service. Gillian is a lawyer by training and worked for private sector law firms, both small and large, prior to 2004. Since joining the public sector, Gillian has held a number of roles that have given her a wide range of experience, including General Counsel; operational manager; data analytics manager; and has led policy projects to amend legislation. Most recently, Gillian led a project to build the NZ Customs Service data analytics capability, and helped to establish the Joint Border Analytics Group.

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Pasanka Wickremasinghe: Chief Financial Officer

Pasanka Wickremasinghe was appointed Chief Financial Officer in 2017. The Finance Division is responsible for managing the financial and accounting functions of the Ministry of Defence.

Previously Pasanka worked with Chorus NZ Ltd, where he was mostly recently their Manager, Capital Investment and Performance. He has contributed to the strategic and intellectual leadership of the organisation, with responsibility for strategy-linked and longer-term business planning. As part of this role, Pasanka was responsible for the planning, forecasting and management of Chorus's capital programme. He also managed foreign exchange exposure and business case processes.

Pasanka has also worked in the United Kingdom, where he held a number of senior finance roles for the NHS Lambeth, one of the largest healthcare service providers and commissioners of healthcare in the UK. Prior to that, Pasanka was a member of the Audit New Zealand team, where he worked with a number of government agencies and provided specialist assurance services in the areas of governance, risk, contracts and project management.

Pasanka holds degrees from Victoria University and is a Chartered Accountant.

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Carol Douglass: Deputy Secretary, Governance, People and Executive Services

Carol Douglass started as Deputy Secretary, Governance, People and Executive Services in January 2018. Carol is responsible for a range of functions that ensure the Ministry is a well-run, sustainable and resilient organisation that works collaboratively with the New Zealand Defence Force.

Carol has been at the Ministry of Defence since 2011, working as the Director responsible for governance arrangements and assurance in respect of capability management, and other areas of joint Defence business. Previously, Carol held a number of positions in Wellington and overseas with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, which gave her a strong knowledge of New Zealand's security interests and the role played by Defence.

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