Building the capability to innovate

Smart Seeds has three key focus areas:

  • Teaching collaboration – industry-wide, interdisciplinary, and intergenerational
  • Expanding the capacity of our emerging leaders -building technical skills and design thinking expertise
  • Tackling real-world challenges - through the co-creation of human-centred solutions

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


Defining the challenge

Changemakers define the program’s challenge, with leaders joining forces in a hands-on workshop to shape this.



And we’re off – participants meet their team and mentors, and network, and then dive into the challenge shaping their program.



Throughout the program, emerging leaders undergo accelerated learning uniquely designed to guide participants in applying design thinking tools and innovation frameworks.



Through applying design thinking principles, each team works collaboratively with their mentors to unpack ideas, research and insights, and iterate a solution.



Teams combine learnings and solutions to bring their pitch to life. A creative use of tools and ideas are leaned on to bring each team’s presentation into focus.



The culmination of hard work over ten weeks! Each team present their innovative solutions to a panel of judges and industry guests. Whether in-person or virtual, guests have the opportunity to network and engage with the community-focused solutions.

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

Join our innovation ecosystem: Become a mentor, challenge champion, guest speaker, judge or advocate

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

Get involved