Our people

We have a Secretary of Defence who is also the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Defence, and our senior leadership team includes four deputy secretaries and a deputy chief executive.

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Helene Quilter: Secretary of Defence

Helene Quilter became Secretary of Defence and Chief Executive of the Ministry of Defence in December 2012. During her time here she has led a programme of change across all aspects of the organisation and the way it partners with other Defence and security agencies.

Before her role as Secretary of Defence, Helene was Deputy Commissioner at the State Services Commission where she was responsible for managing the performance of chief executives in the justice, defence, intelligence and foreign affairs agencies. 

Helene was previously a Deputy Chief Executive with the Ministry of Social Development.

Helene has a Masters Degree in Strategic Studies from Victoria University.

Helene’s current roles are:

  • Secretary of Defence
  • Public Sector Trustee on the Equal Employment Opportunities (EEO) Trust.
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Tony Lynch: Deputy Secretary of Defence

Tony Lynch started as Deputy Secretary of Defence in June 2014. Before this role, Tony was New Zealand’s Ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand with cross-accreditation to Lao PDR, Cambodia and Myanmar. Other diplomatic assignments have been to New Zealand’s Mission to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Geneva, the New Zealand Embassy in Jakarta and the New Zealand High Commission in Canberra.

Previously Tony served as Foreign Policy Advisor to New Zealand’s Prime Minister, the Right Honourable John Key.

Tony has a Master of Arts degree in History from the University of Otago.

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Mike Yardley: Deputy Secretary Capability Delivery

Mike Yardley was appointed Deputy Secretary Capability Delivery in March 2016. Before this role, Mike served as Chief of Air Force, RNZAF, holding the rank of Air Vice-Marshal.

Previously Mike held many senior roles within the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) including Air Component Commander Joint Force NZ and Chief of Staff Headquarters NZDF.  As Assistant Chief of Air Force – Capability he led the RNZAF Capability Directorate dealing with both major and minor capital programmes including introduction into service plans for the B757, P-3 Orion and C-130 upgrades.  He worked with the Ministry of Defence to obtain government approval for the A109 Light Utility Helicopter.  Mike was NZDF Project Manager for the P-3 Orion Systems Upgrade, spending four years working on the project in both New Zealand and the United States.

In 2010 Mike was part of the team that designed and established the NZDF Capability Branch, and was Head of the Programme Management Office.

Mike began his career in 1981 as a Navigator on 5 Squadron, and later became Commanding Officer of 5 Squadron.

Mike has a Master of Strategic Studies from the Air University, Alabama and a Diploma in Military Studies from Massey University.  He has studied at the Royal College of Defence Studies and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

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Bryn Gandy: Deputy Chief Executive, Strategy, Governance and People

Bryn joined the Ministry of Defence in 2013. The Secretary’s Office is responsible for the Ministry’s strategy, its governance and accountability arrangements, and looks after the Ministry’s people and culture, as well as shared services with other agencies.

Prior to joining Defence, Bryn held senior roles in health, internal affairs, justice, and social and children’s sector agencies. He has led the delivery of natural justice services affecting more than one million New Zealanders, as well as leading business change and transformation programmes in some of New Zealand’s largest and smallest government agencies.

While at the Ministry of Social Development, Bryn led the Crown’s work across social sector agencies to redress claims of abuse and neglect by former state wards. This initiative was recognised with the 2012 Prime Minister’s Award for Public Service Excellence.

Bryn has a First Class Honours Degree in Political Science from Victoria University of Wellington and was a public service (Leadership Development Centre) Leadership Fellow in 2010.

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