Dr Charlotte Severne ONZM is the Assistant Vice-Chancellor Māori and Pasifika at Massey University in New Zealand.
Through her family’s strong connection to the land, Charlotte developed a passion for geology at a young age. Spending her childhood researching volcanoes, mountains and the oceans – always knowing she was destined to be a scientist.
Charlotte began her undergraduate degree and career in engineering, but returned to study following the birth of her eldest son to do what she loved – geology. Going on to complete her Masters and PhD in the field.
Through her PhD, Charlotte focused on the characterisation of a large geothermal system in Lake Tokaanu-Waihi in New Zealand, thriving in an environment where she could design her own research program.
As a Māori woman from the region, Charlotte had a strong personal connection to the land and was able to draw on the diverse experience of her family, elders and mentors. Charlotte also felt fortunate to have the support and guidance of senior scientists in the geothermal sector throughout her PhD – fondly recalling them as ‘the best mentors’.
Reflecting on her career, Charlotte cites her role as Chief Scientist for Oceans and Māori development at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research as a highlight. Key to this role was leading research strategy and growing economic development for New Zealand through Ocean Resources and Māori business.
Charlotte was one of the first women on the executive and is proud of the opportunities she created for her people - including the establishment of an indigenous research team.
Following 11 years with the Institute, Charlotte went on to launch a consultancy focusing on ‘Transforming Science into Growth’. Charlotte relished being able to work across different disciplines and languages and consulted on projects both in New Zealand and internationally. Through this role she was able to draw on her extensive expertise in the development of research methodology.
Being a Māori woman and working in science has resulted in challenging periods throughout her career. But Charlotte strives to improve this for future generations through creating environments where people can flourish and have the opportunity to succeed.
Charlotte can also provide extensive guidance around strategy development, organisational restructuring, capacity and team building, policy writing and business transformation.
Charlotte has an open and honest approach to mentoring - recognising the importance of listening, understanding her mentees needs and co-creating solutions. Charlotte invests time determining what challenges each individual is facing and how this may influence the opportunity for growth.
When not leading the new strategy and business plan at Massey University, Charlotte loves spending time with her family and can often be found enjoying the beautiful New Zealand outdoors and cheering on her local sports team.