Mary Jensen

1979 to 1983


Mary Jensen BBS, Grad Cert Economic Development

7 March 2017

Update on Mary Jensen

Mary Jensen has been the Chief Executive of Smart Waikato Trust since its inception in 2009. Mary has a background in regional development, business, education and communications. Under her leadership the Trust has grown to successfully launch and implement a number of new initiatives including FAN, SSEP, Leadership Summit alongside 6 annual editions of FutureForce and managing the Lion Foundation Young Enterprise Scheme across the region. Mary also manages the Waikato Engineering Careers Association (WECA). Mary is a member of the Waikato Regional Economic Development Strategy’s Labour Market working group. In 2014, Mary was a finalist in the NZ Westpac Women of Influence Awards.


Mary Jensen, Matamata  born and bred, completed five years at Matamata College gaining an A Bursary and then graduated from Massey University with a BBS in 1986 and obtained a Post Graduate Certificate in Economic Development from AUT in 2009.

As Deputy Head Girl in 1983, Mary demonstrated all the qualities of an entrepreneur from a young age.  As we have found out she did not disappoint.   Mary was an all-rounder – sporty, academic and leader.   She played netball for the College B team and took the lead role in the school production – South Pacific in 1982.  At the end of her 7th Form year Mary was Proxime Accessit.

Over the next 20 years Mary has been involved in the tertiary education sector - both lecturing and marketing; marketing consulting to small and medium sized businesses around New Zealand, and regional development in the arts, education and tourism sectors in the Nelson, Taupo and Waikato regions.

Work History

1987                                          Babbage Partners Auckland

1989                                          First Marketing Manager at Waikato Polytechnic (Wintec)

1991                                          Set up as self-employed marketing Consultant – Maestro Marketing based in Taupo

1994                                          CEO of Nelson Bays Arts Marketing Trust where an arts guide that she produced became a finalist in the New Zealand Tourism awards.

1995                                          Sales Consultant - The Radio Network Manawatu

1996                                          Project Manager Manawatu Polytechnic

1999                                          Administrator at Dunedin Hospital

2000                                          Marketing Consulting Hamilton

2006                                          Business Tutor at Wintec

2007                                          Regional Manager Skillwise for Waikato Economic Development Agency

2009 F                                    Project Management and Marketing Consultancy (Brella Projects Ltd) – Contracts with Smart Waikato Trust (Regional Manager bringing together business and schools), Waikato Engineering Careers Association and the Young Enterprise Trust. Consults mainly to the Waikato manufacturing, education, tourism, creative and not for profit sectors.

Recently Mary was Regional Manager of Skillwise for the Waikato Economic Development Agency Katolyst and spent 18 months working with businesses and the tertiary sector around developing Waikato workforce capabilities. This included facilitation work with the Thoroughbred Horse sector, the engineering/manufacturing sector, working on Hamilton City Council Economic Development Strategy - Hamilton Skills Action Plan and on the Tertiary Education Commission's (TEC) Regional Facilitation Steering Group for the Waikato region determining tertiary training needs, gaps and priorities in the Waikato particularly for the manufacturing and agricultural sectors.

Mary has identified that Waikato schools and the business community need to have greater linkages to foster young people into the workplace, develop leadership and innovative talent in our youth and send through clear messages about skills needed into the future. Thus, the Smart Waikato Trust has been established and runs the Young Enterprise Scheme and Principal for a Day project throughout the Waikato region.  Mary also manages the Waikato Engineering Careers Association under contract.

Home Life – Mary is married to Keith O’Donnell, has two daughters, Penny Bunting and Daisy Bunting.  She spends her life juggling family, work (as a social and lifestyle entrepreneur!) and is the Vice President of the Christiania Ski Club (Mt Ruapehu). It’s hard to believe Mary has time for skiing when I write of a person who is so involved in her family and career.

Mary’s sister Anna is a primary school teacher and lives and farms with her husband Terry Allison in Matamata and her brother Paul is married to Ann and owns a Forestry Sector Consultancy in Nelson.  Mary’s mum Kay (nee Kneebone) attended Matamata College from 1955 to 1958.  She graduated as a teacher and is still working as a part time teacher at Waihi Beach.