Dr Ella Lawton

Sustainable Practice Advisor

  • Area of Specialisation:
    • Strategic sustainable practice
    • Resource economics
    • Implementation of sustainable practices within and between companies, communities and governments
    • Research and redesign of the food system
    • Community governance
  • Faculty/Key Office:
    • Sustainable Practice Advisor, Lecturer & Research Manager, Centre for Sustainable Practice – Otago Polytechnic
    • Councillor, Queenstown Lakes District Council and Wanaka Community Board
  • Education:
    • PhD, Ecological Accounting – Victoria University of Wellington
    • MSc, Masters in Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability – Blekinge Institute of Technology, Sweden.
    • PCAS, Postgraduate Certificate in Antarctic Studies – Canterbury University
    • LLB/BSc, Law & Ecology – University of Otago
    • Future Leaders Programme, Auckland School of Business
No organisation is an island. Implementing sustainable practice within an organisation or business requires an understanding of the systems in which it operates. To lead sustainable enterprises, business professionals need to plan strategically and implement these plans in a way that promotes business as a restorative part of the greater community.

International teaching and industry experience

Ella has broad experience that extends across academia, community development, government and private consultancy.

For the past six years Ella has worked as part of a small dynamic team at the Otago Polytechnic Centre for Sustainable Practice. Projects have included the development and teaching of the Graduate Diploma in Sustainable Practice, Project Management of the New Zealand Footprint Project, supporting the development of Adding Sustainable Value business courses and the community development process, Shaping Our Future.

In the 2013 local body election Ella was elected to represent the Wanaka Ward on Queenstown Lakes District Council. As part of this position she is the Deputy Portfolio Leader for the Planning and Development team. She also represents Council on the Alpine Community Development Trust, Destination Queenstown Strategic Review Board and Te Rōpū Taiao.

Why does Ella like teaching in the MBA programme?

Ella loves involvement in diverse multidisciplinary teams. She believes they are key to creating holistic solutions to big hairy problems. However success can be tricky, the challenge is to tap into the specialist knowledge in the room and facilitate a conversation that reaches real solutions, not just middle ground. Once introduced as a ‘generalist specialist’, Ella thoroughly enjoys the opportunity to work with business leaders of tomorrow in a creative yet focused environment. The classroom provides a safe space to challenge current paradigms and create interminable sustainable change in a future we are yet to create.

What global perspective is reflected in Ella course/teaching?

Leading Sustainable Enterprises is not all about creating something new, but using tools, partnerships and knowledge effectively and efficiently in order to identify the opportunities to do business better. Companies who have done this well, not only receive the recognition they deserve but create a sustainable model that will be fit for the future. The paper looks at the global and local trends that point to solutions beyond ‘business as usual’. Case studies are used via online multimedia and presented by guest speakers. These case studies highlight the fact that to be a truly sustainable enterprise, we must do more than change a few light bulbs, it requires a fundamental shift in the way we do business. Results from Ella’s current Otago Food Economy research is used to show the benefits of healthy local businesses creating multiple economic benefits and supporting the growth of international markets.