Wendy McGuinness is the Chief Executive of the McGuinness Institute, which she established in 2004 as a way of contributing to New Zealand’s long-term future. The McGuinness Institute is a non-partisan think tank that applies hindsight, insight and foresight to explore challenges and opportunities facing New Zealand.

The Institute’s work, under the flagship project Project2058, focuses on a diverse range of policy issues and research topics. These include civics, publicly-funded science, corporate and government reporting, long-term strategy development, and making New Zealand a place where talent wants to live. The Institute is beginning to scope LivestockNZ, a project that aims to contribute to a discussion on the growing tension between the health of our environment and the health of our agricultural industry.

Wendy has been particularly committed to working with New Zealanders aged 18–25 to  explore issues that will be crucial in the future. Over the last five years this has involved facilitating workshops on New Zealand’s constitution, poverty, local government, the relationship between civics and the media, and long-term living standards.

Since establishing the Institute Wendy has, with her team, written the book Nation Dates: Significant events that have shaped the nation of New Zealand and attended four World Future Conferences. She continues to be fascinated by the development and implementation of public policy, in particular how New Zealand might secure its future in the long-term and in doing so, how New Zealand might become an exemplar for the world. Later this year she will attend Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s workshop ‘Risk in the Real World’ in New York, and the 7th International Risk Assessment and Horizon Scanning Symposium in Singapore.

Wendy has worked in both the public and private sectors specialising in public sector reporting, risk management and future studies. Originally from the King Country, Wendy studied at Manukau Technical Institute (gaining an NZCC), University of Auckland (BCom), University of Otago (MBA), Massey University (completing a range of environmental papers) and Harvard (completing a short Executive Programme on Driving Corporate Performance). In 2009 she received a fellowship from the NZICA, becoming a Fellow Chartered Accountant (FCA) for outstanding contribution to the accountancy profession and service to the community.

About being involved in What Next?

"It is fantastic to contribute to a national conversation on New Zealand’s long-term future. Countries that explore the future and reflect on the past, must by these very characteristics alone be stronger and more resilient to shocks. They will also see and engage with opportunities faster and with more vigour. There are three types of futures, the probable (the one everyone sees), the possible (a few see) and the preferred (which optimists and pessimists see). What next will act as a probe in to this country’s future thinking, pushing boundaries and exposing us to our vulnerabilities and our opportunities. Thank you for the invite – it will be fun!"