ILANZ, In-House Lawyers Association of New Zealand


A chat with 2024 ILANZ Award Winning Team, Contact Energy

A chat with 2024 ILANZ Award Winning Team, Contact Energy

July 10, 2024 at 12:25 PM

The Contact Energy Legal Team were this year’s winners of the 2024 Chapmann Tripp Private In-house Team of the Year Award as well as the Simpson Grierson People & Culture Excellence Award. We chatted with General Counsel and Company Secretary at Contact Energy, Kirsten Clayton about how her team prioritises workplace wellbeing and culture, what’s next for the team and more.

How did it feel to win the Chapman Tripp Private Sector In-house Team of the Year Award? And then again for the Simpson Grierson People and Culture excellence award?

We were finalists in a few categories this year, so we were hoping to pick up something but really didn’t expect to win both of these team awards. As I said on this night, I’m particularly proud of the People and Culture excellence award. This is a great reflection on the entire team in a year where we have been busier than ever. In my view, the attributes behind our People and Culture excellence award lay the foundation for the great work reflected in the Private Sector In-house Team of the Year win. 


The Contact Legal Team have been praised for their ability to keep things moving -  “a curling team, sweeping the ice so the organisation runs smoothly” - how does the team lead calmly in stressful situations?  

Support from within the team means you know that someone always has your back, which helps make facing those difficult situations a bit easier. We work in a fast-paced environment; we’re used to juggling lots of things and are well practised at prioritisation. We have great relationships into the business and are recognised as good communicators, which means our advice is sought at an early stage and at a point when we can really add value. 

What is the key to prioritising workplace wellbeing and culture whilst also providing excellent legal services? 

Our team Tikanga incorporates the values of integrity, trust and resilience. We pursue balance in our work and personal lives to ensure the well-being of our team members and help us excel in our roles. We celebrate success and view things that didn’t go so well as learning opportunities. We’re committed to collaboration, inclusivity and diversity. We’ve been involved in Contact’s Māori and Pasifika network, Women’s Network, Wellbeing Network, training initiatives, and supported the redesign of our recruitment processes to attract diverse talent, including Unconscious Bias training for hiring and people leaders. And importantly, we enjoy each other’s company and have fun together. 


What were a few of your teams 2024 Conference highlights? 

The diversity of topics presented and connecting with others in the profession, it’s not every day you get to mingle with other in-house counsel.   


What is next for the team at Contact Energy? 

Our team priorities are aligned with the business priorities, which means we are focused on the next stage of execution of Contact’s strategy, including helping deliver some really exciting renewable energy projects.  We’re working closely with our Procurement team to improve our procurement processes and refresh our procurement contract templates. We’re taking another look at our team “skills matrix” (i.e. the strengths and weaknesses in our skillset as a team), and we’re further developing team members to fill the areas that we’ve identified could benefit from improvement. We’re also continuing to develop our own internal team culture to ensure it is adaptable to change.