Building the capability to innovate

Smart Seeds has three key focus areas:

  • Industry-wide, interdisciplinary and intergenerational collaboration
  • Capacity building of emerging leaders
  • Co-creation of human-centred solutions to real challenges

Each Smart Seeds program is an activated community of leaders, passionate mentors and industry experts and advocates.

They help to set critical challenges, encourage teams to push the envelope, and open new connection pathways.

The 10-week programs are delivered in-person, virtually or as a hybrid experience.

Participants are exposed to a mixture of live sessions led by an innovation facilitator, curated resources and collaboration tools.

The Journey


Challenge development workshop

Senior leaders and changemakers develop change statements for the program ahead in a facilitated workshop.



Participants are introduced to their mentors, network and form teams, and hear the challenges for their program.



Accelerated learning designed to guide participants in applying design-thinking tools and innovation frameworks.



Teams work with their mentors to test their idea, discuss their research and insights, and iterate on the solution.



Teams develop a compelling pitch using storyboards and tools, refining their presentation from feedback with a pitch mentor.



The culmination of hard work over 10 weeks! Teams present their innovative solutions to a panel of judges and industry guests. Guests have the opportunity to network and engage with the community-focused solutions.

Learning framework

  • Strengths-based approaches
  • Group alignment and expectations
  • Decision making
  • Resolving conflict
  • Defining innovation
  • Methodologies, including design thinking and lean start-up
  • Mindsets and culture
  • Research techniques
  • Developing insights
  • Refining the challenge statement
  • Defining a specific human-centered problem your team will focus on
  • Divergent thinking
  • Clustering ideas
  • Convergent thinking
  • Refining ideas
  • Prototyping
  • Integrating and iterating
  • Preparing a good pitch
  • Making a (business) case
  • Storytelling for change
  • Visual communications
  • Intrapreneurship
  • Navigating the system
  • Building a community
  • Unlocking resources
  • Fostering resilience

Network of leaders and mentors

Cheryl de la Rey
Vice-Chancellor, University of Canterbury

Dr. Alan Finkel
Special Adviser to the Australian Government on Low Emissions Technology

Petar Milivojevic
Director – Architecture, GHD Woodhead

Jim Stabback
Chief Executive, Auckland Council

Angela Skandarajah
CEO, Development Victoria

Sarah FitzGerald
Future Energy Leader, Australia, GHD

Michael Ulph
Technical Director – Communications & Stakeholder Engagement, GHD

Rachel Walton
Service Design & Delivery Team Lead, Environment Canterbury

Daniel Oxnam
Principal Digital Strategist, Auckland Transport

Krystal Skinner
Innovation & Growth, Synergy

Thomas Burt
Business Improvement Manager, Lyttelton Port

Paul Dellow
Senior Economist - Natural Resources & Agriculture, GHD

Be part of our innovation ecosytem

Smart Seeds is transforming the way GHD and client organisations amplify our investment in emerging leaders. You can be involved as a mentor, challenge champion, guest speaker, judge or an advocate.

We invite you to bring your passion, expertise or network into a Smart Seeds program and support new possibilities.

Join the collaborative ecosystem

Register your interest