Working for an organisation that shares his values is a must for Dion Maaka. That’s why he joined the TSB Community Trust in January this year, taking the role of Finance, Risk and Group Strategy Leader.
His job is to take care of everything financial, including the investment management of assets that the TSB Group Ltd owns. These include TSB Bank Ltd and Fisher Funds Management Ltd. “Naturally the boards of these entities operate and manage these businesses independently of the Trust, but as an active and responsible asset owner we monitor them from a performance perspective” says Dion.
Now he’s leading the trust’s financial interests into the future from an operational leadership standpoint. But the tale of how he arrived at this point follows a long journey that begins in central Taranaki, takes him overseas and finally back to Taranaki.
Dion, whose iwi is Ngaruahine, grew up in Eltham, where he went to the local primary school, and then attended Stratford High School. “It gave me a good backing to go to Massey University.”
He gained a Bachelor of Business Studies, majoring in accountancy, and landed his first job with New Plymouth accounting firm Cottam, Cave, Evetts and Fah. The company became Stratagem, which was bought by PWC. “I had my grounding there and that’s where I got my chartered accountancy and like many young kiwis, I followed everyone over to London in 1999 where I held a number of accountancy roles.”
Mainly, he worked for pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, holding positions in different departments.
Also, in London he met an Irish woman called Claire. After five years in the UK capital, they moved to Melbourne where he asked her to be his wife. Their next move was to Dublin, Ireland. “That’s where I got my first management role as a financial manager for an IT company.”
While in Ireland Dion and Claire had their two children, a girl and boy, and then the Taranaki man got a yearning for home. In 2009, the young family put down roots in New Plymouth and Dion landed a job with Parininihi ki Waitotara, an intergenerational Maori business with interests in Aotearoa New Zealand and around the world. “I worked there for seven years as the general manager of corporate services, where my role encompassed anything from finance, IT, human resources to facilities management.”
The family then returned to Dublin for six months to assist their daughter because the city has “amazing facilities for children with autism”. But unfortunately, that option did not eventuate, so they returned to Taranaki and in 2017, Dion became the chief financial officer at WITT. “I really enjoyed my time there.”
But when the community trust job came up, he knew it was a great fit. “PKW showed me what it meant to want to work for an organisation that’s close to my heart and that’s why this role resonated with me,” he says, sitting in the trust’s board room.
“TSB Community Trust is an organisation committed to strategically investing back into the community to make beneficial change.” Dion says, “both TSB Community Trust and PKW are aligned in their vision and mission and, as well as from a values perspective it’s about integrity and transparency and those are the values I do my best to adhere to.”
He’s not alone in that. Dion says chief executive Maria Ramsay has developed a team of people who are united in their aspirations to achieve the strategic goals of the trust and do their best for Taranaki. “That’s unique in an organisation.”
The 43-year-old, who enjoys golf, crossfit training and lives for his family, says he didn’t initially appreciate the trust’s contributions. But in his financial role he now knows the impact it’s making on the community. “I see it as an organisation that can make a significant difference to Taranaki and that will be borne out more in the years to come.”