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Meet The Business Development Team

Our Business Development team is passionate about helping businesses, organisations and individuals to upskill and thrive. They bring a wealth of experience to the task and are always ready to assist.

Business Development Team

Sefa Faletanoai 1582101448497.jpg
Business Development Manager

Sefa’s role is to ensure Ara’s Business Development Team continuously builds meaningful and beneficial relationships with local businesses and organisations by sharing the many opportunities Ara offers. Business became his passion following two significant realisations. First, it dawned on him that he wasn’t disciplined enough to stick to a diet for his rugby ambition.

Secondly, he realised that his degree in theatre and film might have been a mistake when he was passed up for roles on Shortland Street. Sefa says the best part of his role is that the team can offer professional development, apprenticeships, student projects, networking and other opportunities to businesses at below market prices or sometimes even for free. He’s most passionate about innovative projects and accessibility to services at Ara, such as the Professional Growth Suite which provides high-quality, timely industry-level training at affordable prices.

NB: Sefa’s claim that he once auditioned for Shorty is not backed up by hard evidence.


Simo Faitaua
Business Development Pacific Representative

Simo’s role involves working with local businesses and organisations to find out what their professional development needs are. He has a specific focus on making connections with the Pacific community and loves working in this space as it allows him to give Pacific groups and individuals a better understanding of what tertiary education has to offer them and the many ways Ara supports Pacific students.

Prior to joining Ara, Simo worked in the construction sector for 16 years as a plasterer. He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of 80s music and movies, to the extent that he can tell you the year a particular song or movie came out!


Mel Odlum 1582101448497.jpg
Business Development Team Administrator

Mel hails from Ireland and has worked at Ara since 2008, starting off in Registry then moving to Skills for Canterbury, a precursor to the Business Development Team. Her role involves providing support and solutions to the team, and co-ordinating its newsletters, promotional emails, webinars and workshop registrations, among many other things.

Mel is proud to work in a firmly established team that provides a premium service to its industry stakeholders. She gets a lot of satisfaction working with others to achieve goals and is always excited to learn new and more efficient ways of working to the benefit of Ara’s stakeholders. A keen bike commuter, Mel loves taking in beautiful Ōtautahi on two wheels.


Sange Malama-Tuisaula
Business Development Representative

Born in Tokelau and raised in Timaru, Sange is our Business Development Representative for South Canterbury. Before joining the team, Sange worked as a Pasifika Community Connector at Multicultural Aoraki, and as a Pasifika family liaison/teacher aide/cultural group facilitator for a local primary school.

In her current role, she loves being able to help people upskill and continue their pathway to success. In particular, she enjoys working with businesses and professionals to gain their insights on being successful and to understand how she can support them with skills-based learning opportunities. When she’s not moving and shaking in business circles, Sange is an avid Game of Thrones fan still mourning the end of the series and trying to find something to fill the void.


Mihi Tiananga 1582101448497.jpg
Business Development Representative

Mihi (Ngāti Raukawa/Muri) is our te Kaiwhakauru Māori - Business Development Representative and focuses primarily on enabling and working with Māori keen to grow their professional skills. Mihi brings with him a wealth of experience in business ownership, tutoring, mentoring and customer service. He is also a proud member of kapa haka rōpu, Ngā Toi o Te Rangi.


Rachel McConnachie 1582101448497.jpg
Business Development Representative

Rachel’s focus is connecting workplaces with Ara’s Hospitality, Business, Service Industries and Creative programmes. She enjoys working with local businesses and organisations to create pathways that lead to positive outcomes for both employers and employees. As a child, Rachel dreamed of working at a library. Although this dream didn’t come to fruition, the enjoyment of reading remains strong alongside a love of live music, art and collecting ridiculously oversized earrings.