Susan Burns

Managing Principal | Pou Mātāmua
Wellington Office

Susan is an experienced policy professional with an astute eye for context, relationships, and what works. She brings a perspective that’s strategic and pragmatic.

Susan has a proven record of successfully leading complex policy projects. She is a thoughtful analyst and strategic thinker who can look across systems to analyse and resolve difficult policy problems.

With extensive experience providing Ministers and other leaders with high-quality analysis and advice, Susan has a fine understanding of the need to balance official priorities with practical realities. A clear and persuasive communicator, she is also adept at influencing key players and building support for policy approaches.

Clients appreciate Susan’s skill in providing genuinely tailored solutions that meet their needs. She is able to select from a range of policy frameworks and methods and apply and adapt them as needed to suit the problem at hand. She is also able to successfully adjust an approach when it’s not working.

Susan has in-depth knowledge and experience in policy areas related to housing and urban development – she has worked on a range of policies for Te Tūāpapa Kura Kāinga / Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, and the New Zealand Productivity Commission.

Susan also brings a detailed understanding of the machinery of government and policy processes, having advised a number of Ministers. Before she joined MartinJenkins in 2021, she was Private Secretary for a senior Minister in a high-pressure portfolio, where she successfully balanced reactive work with the necessary sense of strategic goals and risks.

When she’s not working Susan enjoys being active outdoors. She also enjoys creating digital illustrations, most recently creating a storybook for her niece.

Examples of Susan's work

  • Developing an agreed set of strategic priorities for urban development across multiple agencies to inform advice to incoming Ministers

  • Developing a dashboard to monitor the impacts of COVID-19 on the construction industry, synthesising insights from across the sector into a digestible format

  • Developing a strategic narrative and later a performance framework for a complex urban development work programme

  • Analysing the impacts of resource management reform on housing and urban development outcomes

  • Leading the development of a comprehensive regulatory impact statement for the Urban Development Act 2020

  • Initiating and managing the development of a methodology to assess the wider costs and benefits of urban development in relation to spatial planning.

Susan's qualifications

Susan has a Master of Public Policy and a Bachelor of Commerce in Economics and Public Policy, both from Victoria University of Wellington.