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Our Team

The Upskills team is our most important asset. We’re a diverse, eclectic bunch with all kinds of different life experiences. This is a core strength. One thing all our staff and tutors share in common is a life-long love of learning and a desire to see others continue their own learning journeys. To be a part of that is a privilege and source of great personal satisfaction for each of us.

Sarah Balfour, Upskills Director

Sarah Balfour

‘If you are neutral in situations of injustice then you have chosen the side of the oppressor.’ Desmond Tutu

Qualifications: Bachelor of Communication Studies (Journalism), Trinity College TESOL Certificate, Masters in Health Science (Psychology), Tetramap Facilitator

Area of Expertise: Sarah specialises in helping organisations to understand and work with group dynamics and on process improvement for the business. Her mission is to enable the Upskills team to produce leadership training with emotional intelligence at the heart of the learning process.

Sarah has worked in the adult education sector for over 20 years. Highlights from her career include teaching English to Greek teenagers in a small town; training teachers in South Korea and more recently, workplaces around Aotearoa. Helping people realise the potential they have within themselves is what drives her.

Looking at her own learning journey, Sarah absorbs knowledge best by reading, reflecting on what she’s done and read, sharing experiences, talking it through with others and jumping in the deep end. She cites making mistakes as another way she learns! One of the most useful lessons has been ‘Aroha mai, aroha atu. Love given is love returned.’

When not in work mode, Sarah loves fiction, opshopping for vintage finds and Crown Lynn ceramics. Spending time with friends and whānau and anything from the ’80s are also high on her list of favourite things.

Holly Patterson, Upskills Director

Holly Patterson

‘Tangata ako ana I te kāenga, te tūranga ke te marae, tau ana. A person nurtured in the community contributes strongly to society.’

Qualifications: BA(Hons); NCALNE (Voc); RSA DELTA

Area of Expertise: Holly focuses on programme planning and new business development.

Prior to co-founding Upskills, Holly thrived in workplace education as a programme manager and educator. She has worked in a number of adult education roles in NZ, South America and Europe.

Holly specializes in designing and tailoring programmes according to client briefs. She loves working with tutors and course participants to see these dreams realised. A lifelong learner, Holly learns best by talking about ideas she’s read or heard about with people equally as passionate as her. The most helpful thing she’s learned is to set lofty goals and believe in yourself. You never know where you’ll end up.

When she’s not working you might find her swimming laps or doing some yoga but you’ll mostly find her nose-deep in a good book. Spare time in summer is spent outdoors on camping trips with friends and family.

General Manager

Janeke Fourie

‘The capacity to learn is a gift, the ability to learn is a skill, the willingness to learn is a choice.’ – Brian Herbert

Qualifications: NZ Certificate in Adult Literacy and Numeracy Education, Master in Management (Human Resource Management), Diploma in Public Relations and Communication Management, Bachelor of Arts (International Studies).

Area of Expertise: Janeke runs the day-to-day operation of the business. Managing our team, supporting our tutors, and ensuring everything related to business operations runs smoothly. Janeke also looks after strategy, planning and reporting ensuring Upskills strategy is activated across all performance areas.

Janeke’s background is predominately in administration management. She has worked in various sectors, from legal to not-for-profit, to automotive and now education and training.

When she has any free time (that is not spent running after two little ones) she loves to read and indulge her taste buds. Janeke tells us she learns ‘just by giving things a go!’ One of the most important things she has learned is that you are never too old to learn something new. Don’t fear change. You may lose something good, but you may also gain something great.

Business Support Manager

Trish Lowe

“Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still – Chinese proverb.”

Qualifications: BSc/BCom

Area of Expertise: Trish specialises in being a generalist!

Trish started out working as an auditor in the public sector before spending 20 years in procurement. Prior to Upskills, she worked in the business support area for an NGO. She learns by doing and figuring out what needs to be done. The most useful thing she’s learnt rings true to the old cliché – you’re never too old to learn. Also gaining the ability to adapt to change and challenges with the right mindset have been very beneficial.

When she’s not working, Trish spends time catching up with friends and family and watching her boys play basketball.

Learning & Design Manager, Tutor

Saran Read

“Poipoia te kakano Kia puawai” – He whakatauki. Nurture the seed and it will blossom.

Qualifications: BA, GradDipTchg(secondary), NCAT Level 5, NCALNE (Educator) CertIV Assessment and Workplace Training (Aus).

Area of Expertise: Saran’s speciality is mostly around business processes, systems and relationships. She also specialises in supporting Maori learners.

Saran has filled the new role of Learning and Design Manager, as part of our core team. She has spent the past 19 years in adult education, starting out as an ESOL tutor in NZ, Australia and Japan many years ago. Her journey as an adult educator has included customer service, digital literacy, financial literacy, business education and workplace literacy and numeracy in both small business and corporate environments.

Saran learns in a variety of ways. The traditional classroom environment seems to suit her. She particularly enjoys visual and interactive learning. She learns best by ‘doing’ although also picks up a lot by reading. The most useful thing she’s learned is whanaungatanga – Establishing good relationships with learners is the key to their learning success. Also that her own learning journey will never finish.

Outside of work, she likes to spend time outdoors walking her dog up Te Mata Peak or riding the cycle trails.

Tafa Iakopo, Upskills Future Ready Programme Manager
Programme Mgr, Project Ikuna

Tafā Iakopo

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” John C Maxwell & Theodore Roosevelt

Qualifications: BA in Spanish

Area of Expertise: Tafā specialises in engaging with learners from all walks of life. She finds it easy to connect with people as she is naturally relatable and interested in their journey.

Tafā has worked in the education sector for 15+ years but in NZ she has a contact centre background. This led to training and then adult education, and she has been here ever since. She absolutely loves this space!

Tafā is a visual and kinaesthetic learner. She needs to see it and then do it. The most useful thing she’s learned is that getting the whole family involved in the learning journey makes the ride even more enjoyable. Lots of laughs and takeaways.

When she’s not working, she loves to bake, spend quality time with friends and family and work on little projects around the house.

Rachel Falekaono, Upskills team member
Programme Coordinator

Rachel Falekaono

“Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”

Qualifications: Bachelor of International Tourism Management

Area of Expertise: Rachel is fresh out of university! She has explored different areas in the workforce from customer service to pick packing, student mentoring and spending a few months as a project co-ordinator at a tourism company. 

Rachel learns best by observing what is going on around her and picking things up. But she also learns a lot by listening and speaking up. The most useful thing she has learned is that you can never learn “too much”.

When she’s not working, Rachel loves to do things around her house and spends a lot of time with her family outside of their home.

Junita Tupai, Upskills tutor
Programme Coordinator

Junita Tupai

“The most meaningful way to succeed is to help others succeed” Adam Grant


Mcdonald’s level 5 cert – Food and beverage management, Hospitality management control systems, and Supply chain management.

Currently completing NZCALNE.

Area of Expertise: Junita worked for Mcdonald’s for over 20 years. She spent the last 12 years as a Restaurant Manager in different locations around Auckland.  This equipped her with excellent people and management skills that transfer perfectly to adult education.

Junita loves to learn face-to-face by being hands-on through reading and practical experience. The most important thing she’s learnt is that learning never stops, you learn something when you least expect it.

When she’s not working, Junita loves to bake. Particularly recreating cultural foods. She loves spending time with her family and her fur babies.

Tania Vuletich, Upskills Team Member
Programme Co-ordinator

Tania Vuletich

In learning, you will teach. In teaching, you will learn.”

Qualifications: TEFL, NCALNE, TESOL NZ

Area of Expertise: Tania specialises in ESOL across all levels including IELTS, assessment development and moderation.

Tania has been an ESOL tutor for 18 years, loyal to two organisations that provided excellent professional development. Four years ago, she became a senior tutor, faculty administrator and assessment coordinator. She’s worked in New Zealand and England and is new to adult literacy. She feels that bringing her ESOL experience to Upskills has been a considerable benefit already.

As a learner, Tania is a ‘doer’, she is very visual. Tania loves to learn by getting out there and immersing herself in what she’s learning. She also likes to be in an environment where she can learn from others (workshops, courses etc). The most useful thing she’s learned is to be curious, not judgmental.

When not working, Tania loves to be in, on or around the ocean. She has been part of the United North Piha Surf Lifesaving Club for over 5 years, mainly organizing junior surf events. She is also a keen surfer.


Hazel Balderston

‘My intent is to work with people to develop ways to make real transformations – and to have fun along the way.’

Qualifications: RSA Dip TEFLA (DELTA)

Area of Expertise: Hazel loves teaching the whole range – people who have little English as well as leaders. She enjoys coaching leadership skills and financial literacy both in groups and one to one. She has expertise in helping to develop training content and building relationships within our network.

Over the past 25 years, Hazel has worked in eight countries and set up New Zealand businesses in the hospitality, property and tutoring industries. She has been teaching communication skills to adults for about a decade. Hazel was one of the first trainers we brought on board and is also a facilitator affiliated with the Commission for Financial Capability. Hazel learns best herself by listening, talking things through, then reading, watching and doing. Among one of the most important things she’s learned, is to listen, be kind, to back yourself and other people.

Jacob Bingley, Upskills Tutor

Jacob Bingley

Iwi: Ngati Tumatauenga

‘Oh, the Places You’ll Go! You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.’ Dr Suess says it all really, make use of life’s opportunities.

Qualifications: Diploma in Business Studies, Level 5 Certificate in Adult Education & Training.

Area of Expertise: Jacob has over 20 years of experience in Adult Education & training.

He served in the NZ Army for 26 years fulfilling a number of leadership and adult education training roles. The highlight was serving overseas on operational deployments in Bosnia Herzegovina. Since departing the military, he has been involved in a number of areas including Group Therapy and Rehabilitation, Virtual Tours, Property Management, and First Aid Training.

Jacob learns best by researching and if it’s a practical skill, he likes to observe first, then practice by ‘doing’. One of the most useful things he’s learned about is The Circle of Influence – focus on the things you can control.

When he’s not working, Jacob enjoys spending time with his family and he’s a keen follower of the NZ Warriors.


Julia Bruce-Mayne

The Living Consensus Framework represents Julia’s teaching philosophy. The framework includes shared leadership, cultural inquiry, ethics agreement, inquiry teams and reflective practice. These practices overlap and complement one another to form holistic learning environments of which learners and teachers have shared ownership.

Qualifications: Master of Education (Hons), Member of the Ako Aotearoa Academy of Tertiary Teaching Excellence.

Area of Expertise: Working with at-risk youth and supporting adults in their professional development as critical thinkers, communicators and leaders.

After hairdressing on cruise ships, Julia began her adult education career 26 years ago. Firstly teaching hairdressing students and then life skills to at-risk youth. For ten years she provided professional development for adult and tertiary teachers in New Zealand, China, Indonesia and the Solomon Islands. Julia is a visual and kinaesthetic learner so she likes to learn by seeing, doing and reflecting. She’s a huge fan of project and inquiry-based learning approaches. The most useful thing she’s learned is that the diversity we all bring to any group is the richest resource for learning. When not working, Julia runs and enjoys spending time with her family and mini dachshund, Daisy.

Tracey Cooper, Upskills Tutor

Tracey Cooper

“The greatest things in life are not things.”

Qualifications: Certificate in Adult Education, Certificate in Literacy and Numeracy, Diploma in Business Management, Certificate in Small Business, Bachelor of Art and Design

Area of Expertise: Tracey specialises in delivering literacy and numeracy training to workplaces in a fun and interactive way.

Tracy has four years of experience as a tutor and a strong background in sales and hospitality. This has helped her connect with learners on an even playing field to deliver high-quality training.

She likes to learn by having someone show her what to do and then do it herself. Tracey can read instructions but would rather someone talk her through them! The most helpful thing she has learned is that everyone has something to teach.

Outside of work, Tracey really enjoys gardening. She is in the middle of creating an edible garden full of tropical fruits and berries. She also really enjoys the aerial arts, specifically lyra.

Tina Craig, Upskills Tutor

Tina Craig

“You don’t inspire your team by showing them you are amazing. You inspire your team by showing them how amazing they are” Robyn Bernicasa.

Area of Expertise: Tina is a dedicated and organised people-first professional who likes nothing more than tapping hidden potential and working with people to be the best they can be.

Tina has over 20 years of experience working in empowerment and performance roles. 15 years were spent in Johannesburg, South Africa, working on fundraising projects for two large non-governmental organisations. 8 years ago, she came home to the Wairarapa and became part of the world of beekeeping, creating exceptional teams that produced exceptional honey. Now Tina is a trained life coach who works with people to tap their inner awesomeness.

She learns best with a little bit of doing, a little bit of watching, and a whole lot of laughs (mostly at herself). The most useful thing she’s learned is to make space for courageous conversations.

Outside of work, Tina is a proud mum of an 11-year-old daughter who inspires her daily.  She also took up boxing after a 10-year break but her favourite thing to do is to create delicious food for family and friends.

Vicki Fox, Upskills Tutor

Vicki Fox

“By working with people, we expand our own horizons and learn to see things from many points of view. There is no one right way and we need to be tolerant and accepting of other ways of life. Live your life and let others do the same.

Qualifications: Member of Chartered Institute of Editors & Proofreaders, B.Ed (Hons), RSA Dip TEFLA, RSA Cert TEFLA 

Area of Expertise: Communication skills and language accuracy.

Vicki has worked in Europe (Greece, Italy, Portugal & the UK) and in Brunei. For over 25 years she has worked in the ESL education sector as a teacher, tutor, lecturer and Director of Studies. 

She likes to learn by reading and digesting the content. She also likes to watch demonstrations. Listening to endless explanations is her least favourite way to learn. 

The most useful thing she has learnt is that you don’t have to be perfect, like Catatonia sang “coming second is close to ideal.” 

Vicki loves swimming and reading, she ‘tries’ to play golf. She also enjoys cycling, learning languages, cooking and gardening. Travel remains a key interest, but has been somewhat curtailed these past few years! 


Melissa Hori

‘Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid’ – Albert Einstein

Qualifications: BSc (Biology and Psychology) and Grad Diploma in Secondary Teaching, University of Auckland Diploma in Life Coaching

Area of Expertise: Melissa specialises in curriculum and resource design, planning innovative ways to engage learners, both in groups or 1:1 coaching.

– Skills Highway Champion Trainer 2021 – 

Our award-winning tutor, Melissa Hori has been working in adult education for a total of four years. In the last year with us at Upskills and before that two years delivering workshops to family groups and sports groups, six months at Unitec co-facilitating Te Tiriti O Waitangi workshops to staff and 18 months at the University of Auckland. Delivering a bridging programme for Maori and Pacifica students into the health programmes. Before moving into adult education, Melissa was a secondary school biology teacher and a professional teaching fellow at the Univeristy of Auckland, working on curriculum mapping and redesign of Maori health week. She also directed her own dance school. She combines her Upskills tutoring role with life coaching and teaching Pilates. She also enjoys watching sport and is an avid reader. Favourite times are spent with her new baby and two rescue dogs. Melissa likes to discuss learning, ask questions, bounce ideas, and make connections in order to learn. The most important thing she’s learnt is that no one is a poor learner, the teacher/facilitator needs to find the way that works for that learner.


Kathryn Hunter

‘Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.’ Chinese proverb

Qualifications: BSocSc, Dip Teaching, GradDipTESSOL

Kathryn has been teaching since the late 1990s. She taught in Japan, China and NZ. Mostly specialising in ESL teaching to high school learners. In the past 3 years, Kathryn expanded into work with adult learners. In her experience, everyone has a story and knows something that others don’t. She understands the importance of creating a safe space where learners feel valued, supported and able to share their perspectives. When not training she loves to travel both overseas and in NZ. Favourite activities are tramping and spending time with friends and family. Kathryn learns in different ways. Firstly she’s a visual learner, closely followed by a kinesthetic (doing) learner. She also learns a lot from group discussions. Most importantly she realises that we are all lifelong learners and that we need the courage to try something new. It is by trying new things we learn. As Thomas Edison said: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Andi Kalff Upskills Facilitator

Andi Kalff

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”- Benjamin Franklin

Qualifications: Dip Tertiary Teaching, NCALE, PG Dip Business Enterprising, NZ Dip Legal Studies, Cert Biology & Behaviour, Cert Mental Health & Illness, Cert Organisational Behaviour, L3 H&S, Nat Cert Health & Disability, Cert Ethics & Virtue in Education, Training Cert in Family Partnerships, Staff Performance Review Training

Area of expertise: Andi specialises in education. She has worked in many areas including tutoring, management and business/curriculum development. She loves to make a difference in people’s lives and empower them through education. Because of this, she has a holistic approach to facilitating learning.

Andi worked for two years in the UK as a civil servant. In NZ, she trained and specialised in adult education and has remained in this area. Her work has taken her to Australia and South Africa, then back to NZ. Andi has worked for PTEs, polytechs, international schools, workplace training organisations and the Wananga.

She learns best by listening, following a demonstration and reading – depending on the task. Andi can learn well in a traditional education learning space too. The most important thing she has learnt is that life is not measured by the amount of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away.

When she’s not working, Andi enjoys horse riding, spending time with her family, walking at the beach with her dogs, listening to music and reading. She also enjoys watching box sets/series with psychological thrillers her favourite genre.

Annette King, Learning Facilitator at Upskills

Annette King

Iwi: Ngai te rangi

‘The person who hasn’t made a mistake hasn’t made anything.’ Anonymous

Qualifications: MSc, Trade Certificate in Fitting, Turning and Machining, Certificate in Adult and Tertiary Teaching

Area of expertise: Annette started her career as an engineer, then branched into teaching engineering and then teaching in general. She likes to exchange knowledge with people. This happens when she helps people learn and in turn, they teach her too.

Annette learns best through pictures. Her mind is very visual. To remember a name she writes it down and remembers the image of the name. One of he most useful things she has learnt is that her children can solve all her IT issues!

When she’s not at work, Annette can be found in the garden, in the workshop or in a good book.

Jean Kite, Upskills Tutor

Jean Kite

“He aroha whakatō, he aroha puta mai. If kindness is sown, then kindness you shall receive.’

Qualifications: Level 5 Certificate in Adult and Tertiary Teaching, Honours degree in Mass Communication Studies, BA (History & Political Studies)

Area of expertise: Jean is a copywriter, proofreader, CV writer and specialises in communications. She has worked in adult education for the past six years.

Jean has a background in adult teaching, early childhood education, communications and digital marketing. She has facilitated courses for parents at Playcentre, tutored ECE courses and taught English to migrant women. In her spare time, she teaches science to preschoolers and facilitates professional learning and development for teachers in STEM. She has a passion for lifelong learning and particularly enjoys working kanohi ki te kanohi with students, presenting to small groups and tutoring one-on-one.

Jean tells us she learns best by taking notes – in very messy handwriting! She has a busy brain and finds she focuses better when holding a pen so she carries a notebook around wherever she goes because you never know where you might learn something! The most useful thing she has learned is to do more listening than talking. “Listening is being able to be changed by the other person.” Alan Alda.

When not working she enjoys yoga, and spending time outdoors with her children. She is also a brilliant baker who bakes and decorates magnificent cakes! 


Jeanette Lask

‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.’ Nelson Mandela

Qualifications: BA (Hons) Combined Studies – English, Drama and Theatre Studies. CTEFLA, NCALNE, IAEBP.

Area of Expertise: Jeanette specialises in leadership and communication for all levels of learners.

Jeanette has been tutoring now for 10 years. She started teaching EFL in Australia, Indonesia, Japan, England and New Zealand. In Africa, she helped train the teachers for an upgrading system the Government had put in place. Jeanette oversaw some development projects and set up a Participatory Resource Network Centre. She worked in television post-production for ‘Family Affairs’, then film, ‘The Two Towers’ – Lord of the Rings. She has also owned a café and is a hypnotherapist, a Thrive consultant and celebrant. Jeanette is a visual learner but loves to read as well. She likes to take time to process the material and then do it. The most useful thing she’s learned is that you learn something new every day! When not working you’ll find her looking after her Kuni Kuni pigs, Peppa, Georgie, Blackie and her hand-reared piglet Katie, Elan the rescue dog, Charlie the goat. Chickens, Wags and Choppy the claves, Chuzzle the cat and of course her husband and son.

Reena Patel, Upskills Tutor

Reena Patel

‘Carpe Diem! Seize the day!’

Qualifications: MEdLM – Master of Educational Leadership and Management

Area of Expertise: Reena has over 10 years of experience working in adult education. She loves to think innovatively in her work.

Reena has worked in the education sector in India and New Zealand. Her Kiwi tertiary experience includes working across diverse industry sectors including Business, Finance, Trades, Public, Security, Real Estate, and Ambulance.

She likes to learn by immersing herself in whatever she is doing. The most useful thing she’s learned is to choose well or lose well.

When not working Reena enjoys the arts including drama and dancing. She’s currently on a journey to discover her cultural identity.

Upskills careers - Shelley Patak, Upskills Tutor

Shelly Pathak

‘When you learn, teach. When you get, give.’ Maya Angelou

Qualifications: BSc (Hons) Sociology, CELTA. Currently studying for NCALNE.

Area of Expertise: Shelly particularly enjoys teaching English as a second language, which she’s pleased to be able to incorporate as an Upskills tutor.

Shelly Pathak has enjoyed most of her career in the education sector. She has conducted research in schools and managed research in the UK Department for Education and Employment. She started teaching English as a second language in the UK and continued when she moved to NZ.

Shelley teaches workplace literacy and numeracy with Upskills. She is a board member at her local intermediate school. She spends her spare time knitting, and sewing quilts and is currently learning to sew her own clothes. Like most of our tutors, she’s a big reader. The rest of her time is spent watching her two sons play football for the local club.

A visual learner first and foremost, Shelly best processes new information and knowledge by talking it through. She continues to learn new knitting and sewing techniques by watching YouTube videos and through groups. The most important thing she has learned is to listen!

Bob Pearce, Upskills Facilitator

Bob Pearce

‘What matters is not what we teach it’s what they learn.’ David Britten

Qualifications: MIntlSy, City and Guilds certificate in adult further education training

Area of Expertise: Bob specialises in designing and facilitating adult learning with a learner-centric focus. He enjoys working with Upskills as he shares our goals and values

Bob had an active 30-year career in the military involving training and education in the UK, Germany, New Zealand and other countries. In 2022 he transferred these skills to the adult education sector.  

Bob likes to blend traditional reading with new tech such as AI and online learning. One of the most useful things he has learnt is that he can learn new things every day of his life.

When he’s not at work he loves tramping with his wife, military history, and spending time with his sons and the family pets. Whanau is at the centre of his life.

Bob is pictured in his co-captain’s Korowai at the Invictus Games in Dusseldorf 2023.


Sharon Pheasant

‘Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.’ George Washington Carver

Qualifications: BA, Trinity Cert. TESOL, Cambridge DELTA

Area of Expertise: Sharon now specializes in designing learner-centred lessons focused on individual needs within the group.

Sharon returned to NZ in 2016. After 15 years of teaching and coordinating in the EFL and EAP sector, she transitioned into the adult workplace training field in 2018. When she’s not working or being a mum, she loves to read. Sharon is a visual learner, she always appreciates seeing a model or demonstration before being given lots of opportunities to practise. Among the most useful things she’s learnt is that even seemingly insurmountable challenges can often be completed with a bit of adaptability and determination.

Jack Scott, Upskills Tutor

Jack Scott

‘With the correct support, we can all stand up and be leaders.’


Post-Graduate Diploma in Educational Leadership, Master’s Degree in Education, Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA).

Area of Expertise: Jack has a passion for learning and teaching leadership skills. His master’s degree is currently focusing on support for new leaders and what skills they need first to hit the ground running.

His 25 years of experience include teaching English in South Korea, Chicago and New York. He managed Schools in Auckland, San Francisco and Berkeley California. He also managed four teams at the University of Auckland.

Jack likes to learn by receiving high-quality feedback that is fast and comprehensive. The most useful thing he’s learned is the power of trying to see things from other people’s perspectives.

When not working, he loves baking sourdough and tramping. Jack has completed five of New Zealand’s great walks so far.

Emilie Sila’ila’i, Upskills workplace tutor

Emilie Sila’ila’i

Emilie’s Why: To nurture and develop happy and healthy people whose dreams, purpose and destinies are realised and lived out with true intention.


MEdLd and PGDipEd (Waikato), BEd (Auckland), Trained Teachers Certificate (Auckland), Diploma of Teaching (Auckland), Phases 1-3  Accredited Coach Growth Coaching International (Auckland), L2 Healthy Thinking Accredited Coach Institute of Healthy Thinking (Dr Tom Mulholland) (Auckland).

Area of Expertise: Adult Education, Teacher Education, Literacy & Numeracy, Personal & Professional Leadership, Cultural & Responsive Practices.

Emilie has worked in the Education Sector for more than 35 years in New Zealand, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Cook Islands and Samoa.

She has held various teaching, management and leadership roles: Research Manager, Education Programme Manager, Project PLD Lead Facilitator, Teacher Education Lecturer, Academic Developer, Deputy and Acting Principal (of a Primary School in Auckland), Coach and Mentor, Senior Tutor, Foundations Tutor, Researcher and Classroom Teacher. Her workplaces have included schools, remote villages, private & government organisations, universities, polytechnics, and ministries of education both here in NZ and in the Pacific.

Emilie likes to learn by taking action and the most important thing she has learned is that education is life itself!

When not working, she enjoys travelling, reading, cooking, sports, being creative with her hands and spending time with family and friends.

Sophie Simpson, Upskills Tutor

Sophie Simpson

“Never look down on anybody unless you’re helping them up.” Jesse Jackson


NZ Diploma in Business, Leadership and Management

Area of Expertise:

Working with diverse learners, both in groups and one-on-one.  Sophie finds it extremely rewarding and feels privileged to be a part of an individual’s learning journey, watching them grow, build confidence and develop new skills.

Sophie has worked in leadership and coaching roles both in Australia and Aotearoa within the health and disability sector. She has a passion for supporting and empowering individuals to lead the successful lives they want. In the two years before joining Upskills, she became a tutor in the health and wellbeing space, sharing her knowledge and experience with those going out to support the most vulnerable.

Sophie learns best in a safe, fun and positive learning environment, she thrives with a face-to-face approach and by learning through doing. The most useful thing she has learned is that life is a journey, not a destination; so we should enjoy it because time is so precious!

When not working, Sophie likes to indulge her creative soul. She loves bright colours, animals and music. However, her biggest accomplishment is being a proud and dedicated mother to her three incredibly beautiful tamariki who inspire and challenge her daily!

Julz Tagaloa - Upskills Tutor

Julz Tagaloa

“How can you succeed by helping others succeed? We succeed at our very best only when we help others succeed” – James C. Collins

Qualifications: Certificate in hairdressing

Area of Expertise: Julz has had numerous customer-facing roles; hairdressing, teacher aiding, customer services roles, and call centre administration. She describes herself as blessed to experience Programming in Communities of West Auckland, in a secondment role for 1.5 years with Auckland Council. This grew her interest in pursuing her current role with Upskills. Although it is a new field, she is open to the challenge and willing to grow into the role.

Julz is a visual learner. She likes to get straight into doing the work and learn as she goes. The most useful thing she’s learnt is not to be afraid to make mistakes, because it’s the only way you’ll learn and grow as a person.

When she’s not working, Julz loves to spend time with her twin boys, family, friends and her ‘fur hunny’, Brucey (the dog). She loves to cook, bake, listen to heaps of music (singing and dancing!), and anything that is FUN. She is always down to try new things and go on outdoor adventures.

Jane Terrell, Upskills Tutor

Jane Terrell

Iwi: Ngāti Kahungunu, by marriage

“E kūkū te kererū, e ketekete te kaka, e koekoe te tūī [The tūī chatters, the kākā cackles and the kererū coos]”. Jane’s aim is to facilitate learning that honours diverse voices and makes space for them to be heard.

Qualifications:  BA (English and German), Graduate Diploma in Secondary Teaching, Cambridge Certificate in TEFL, Masters in Educational Administration (Hons), Certified Mindfulness Teacher

Area of Expertise:  Jane is dedicated to ensuring educational success for all learners, with a particular focus on “ako” – interactive, dialogue approaches. Her background includes facilitation, mindfulness and communication skills training.

Jane has worked in a wide range of tertiary education and industry contexts. These include wānanga, universities, Te Pūkenga, PTEs, workplaces in NZ and Austria, and the tourism industry in Vietnam.

She likes to learn by listening, reading and talking to others. She learns practical skills (like dancing!) best by watching first and then being coached as she gives it a go. The most useful thing she’s learned is that deep learning happens in the context of a reciprocal relationship, where teacher and learner are both transformed by the experience.

When not working, Jane loves travel, dancing with a partner, mindfulness meditation, and having adventures with her grandchildren. She enjoys reading and is very happy that her granddaughters love to be read to.

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Upskills Ltd.

Address: 93 Church St, Onehunga, Auckland 1061
Free parking: 120 minutes, Gerrard Beeson Pl.
Phone: 09 622 3979