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Helen Sutch


In recognition of an outstanding career of public service in New Zealand and overseas, specialising in governance, development and equity issues.

Helen Sutch was a student at Victoria from 1963-67, member of the VUWSA Executive 1963-64, NZUSA Vice-President 1965-66, and represented Victoria at women’s hockey 1963-66. She was active in the Drama Club and Committee on Vietnam, and organised a teach-in on Vietnam at VUW in 1966. She obtained from Victoria an MA with first class honours, received an MPhil in Economics at Oxford in 1970, and returned to VUW in 1971-72 to lecture in Economics.

  Her professional grounding is as a public economist with a strong interest in social and poverty issues. After working in the UK Government Economic Service on policy and research on urban poverty, Ms Sutch joined the NZ Treasury in the mid-1970s, and then worked at the OECD from 1981-85. She returned to become economic adviser to the Prime Minister in late 1985, and later Director of Policy and Research and Chief Labour Market Adviser in the Labour Department, where her team contributed analysis on Treaty, immigration, pay equity and other issues for the Royal Commission on Social Policy.

  In 1989 she took the Advanced Management (CEO) Program at the Harvard Business School before joining the World Bank (1989-2007), first in francophone Africa, and then in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, where she contributed to a wide range of macro-fiscal and institutional reforms and was also a member of the Bank’s Board on Women in Development. After three years in Warsaw working on governance issues in Poland and the Baltics she became manager in 2000 for Public Sector Governance strategy, programs and knowledge management Bank-wide, before moving to the East Asia and Pacific region in late 2003. Ms Sutch returned to Wellington in 2004 where she now works on her own account, with a continuing involvement in PNG and East Timor.