Colin Bass, Partner

Based at the top of the South Island, you will find Colin most weekends mountainbiking in the Richmond Ranges or out on the water enjoying one of the many beautiful beaches of Tasman Bay with his young family.

Colin harbours a passion for helping people work better together by delivering powerful collaborative planning solutions. He’s worked extensively in communities all round New Zealand and has a proven track record in local economic development. His catch cry, ‘You can’t take the ED out of community’, exemplifies the integrated approach he embraces in his work.

Colin founded Business Lab in 2000 with the vision of developing a planning approach that simplifies this often complex task while making it more effective and enjoyable for those involved.

David Hammond.jpg

David Hammond, Partner

David's working career spans some 25 years in local government and recently in private consulting. This includes 10 years as Chief Executive across three councils managing up to 240 staff and assets valued at $1.5b. David brings a very deep knowledge of public sector issues, the requirements of elected members, and senior management experience to Business Lab.

As a private consultant David has been influential in leading local government sector thinking and practice, particularly in the field of community and stakeholder engagement.  He has trained 98 councils both in New Zealand and Australia using workshops and frequently presents at conferences in both countries.

David has experience in the co-design of cycleways with local communities having led Nelson City through a re-design process, and was a Board Member of the Hauraki Cycleway.


Annie Dignan, Associate

Annie moved from an early career in social work to outdoor education as she wanted to combine her love of the outdoors with her desire to support people to develop.  Curiosity led her back to post graduate study and then into tertiary lecturing.

Annie's leadership and facilitation work in both in New Zealand and overseas includes working with teachers, youth offenders, people with disabilities, corporate groups, council staff and boards.  She has over 20 years experience in governance. Whether it's leading people in the outdoors, educating in a lecture theatre or facilitating around the board table, Annie works with respect and integrity to ensure a collaborative process and positive outcomes for all.

She spends her free time sharing her passion for the outdoors with her partner and sons and is happiest in her retro caravan.


Fiona Van Rooyen, Associate

Fiona is a business professional with a strong skill set for managing complex pieces of work and analysis; and engaging with communities and large groups. 

She has survey design experience (both quantitative and qualitative) and is adept at analysing responses to identify key themes and insights. Her reports and communications are directly tailored to the intended audience and are high impact, being well researched, engaging and easy to read.

In addition to being a qualified actuary her educational background includes a BSc(Hons), a Diploma in Secondary School Teaching and a Masters in Public Health. 


Lorellin Syben, Associate

Based in Nelson, Lorellin is passionate about supporting meaningful engagement and collaboration. Lorellin has a Communications degree and worked in Wellington in banking fraud and public relations before moving into community development work in the top of the South Island.

Having worked in the community and non-profit sector for over a decade she has done everything from running grassroots organisations to stakeholder management for an international charity and governance roles. Her love for innovation led to co-founding a Social Enterprise Forum to support the sector in Nelson and Tasman.

Lorellin is trained in the Systems Thinking methodology as a tool for business improvement, which she uses to bring a continuous improvement lens to her work.

Paul profile pic.jpg

Paul McGregor, Associate

Paul is a skilled communicator with a taste for facilitation, business development and marketing.

His varied background includes public policy with the Ministry of Justice and design and technology with Lifehack, a systems-level initiative for supporting the wellbeing of young New Zealanders.  He currently also co-manages Adult Learning Support in Nelson.

He's a contributor through the Enspiral Network, a global collaborative network of passionate people working "on stuff that matters" and an irregular blogger over at

Outside work, you'll find Paul walking his hipster dog on the beach, messing around on his guitar or on the tools at home.

Rob_Maclean 2_CROP.jpg

Rob MacLean, Senior Associate

If you want to know how to lead groups in remote places or other challenging situations, Rob’s your man.  In late 2015, he stepped down as School Director at Outward Bound after six years successfully guiding this iconic New Zealand institution. Prior to this, he worked for the US National Outdoor Leadership School. He’s been immersed in an amazing ‘leadership’ lab for almost 20 years.

Rob has an innate ability to get the best from people whether leading a bush expedition or facilitating a workshop full of interesting people. Having studied and worked as an ecologist in the Arctic and Antarctic, he is passionate about making sure we leave this planet in a better state than when we first appeared on it.


Sophie Preece, Associate

Based in beautiful Marlborough with her young family, Sophie is deeply passionate about the region’s stunning natural diversity. Depending on the season you will find her either sailing in the Sounds, tramping in the Richmond Range, skiing at Rainbow or mountain biking through the Molesworth Station.

Teaming up with Business Lab in 2014, Sophie has been instrumental in developing the Marlborough Smart + Connected (link to case study) programme, a unique Collective Impact local economic development initiative focused on Marlborough industries and communities. Sophie is an accomplished journalist and co-founder of the popular Marlborough Readers and Writers Festival.


Contact Us

021 424 952