Principal Policy Advisor

pd banner 770px

Tēnei tūranga – About the role

The Principal Policy Advisor is a subject domain leadership position in MBIE. As part of the Policy team, the Principal Policy Advisor is responsible for supporting the overall capability of the team.

The Principal Policy Advisor is responsible for:

  • Partnering with policy manager to drive the strategic policy agenda and set the direction for the team’s policy domain.
  • Providing authoritative policy advice and leading programmes of work and project teams on complex and sensitive areas.
  • Effectively influencing on domain topics through engagement and communication with senior stakeholders.
  • Enhancing the overall capability of the team through guiding and mentoring senior advisors and advisors in their day to day work.
  • Policy issues and contributes to larger, more complex projects where others have the accountability for the delivery of outputs.

Workplace Relations and Safety Policy Branch

Employment, Skills and Immigration Policy Branch

Ngā herenga – Requirements of the role

Personal specifications

The Principal Policy Advisor is expected to be skilled in all areas (complexity, policy craft and influencing) and have advanced skills and the ability to lead in one of the following areas:

  • Complexity.
  • Policy Craft.

Policy knowledge and skills

  • Understands the strategic context, current policy agenda and priorities; is able to see policy issues in the wider context and applies foresight and judgement to identify what is important for the policy area in the medium and long term.
  • Is able to build requisite knowledge for different policy issues quickly.
  • Is able to draw on expert knowledge of the policy area as well as broad knowledge from other policy domains to critically assess information from a wide variety of sources and identify implications for policy analysis and advice.
  • Is able to draw on advanced qualitative and quantitative frameworks, principles, tools and approaches and expert understanding of the range of techniques to monitor and evaluate policy performance.
  • Has the intellectual capability to work with multiple complex ideas in parallel as well as being able to integrate multiple concepts and pathways and deal comfortably with ambiguity.
  • Has the ability to manoeuvre comfortably through complex policy advisory processes and Cabinet requirements to achieve the desired outcomes for complex, sensitive or risky policy issues.
  • Is an expert user of policy project management processes, has skill and experience to manage policy conflicts and understands how to assess risk and develop risk mitigation strategies
  • Is sensitive to how people and organisation function, deals comfortably with organisation politics and anticipates land mines and plans approach accordingly.
  • Is skilled at drawing on experience, evidence, wisdom, judgement and expertise to build policy capability of staff.


  • A good tertiary qualification.
  • Must be a NZ citizen or hold a residence class visa.

Takohanga tuhinga o mua – Key accountabilities and deliverables

Policy activities and tasks

  • Partners with policy manager to drive the strategic policy agenda and set the direction in the team’s policy domain.
  • Leads complex policy programmes and projects requiring deep policy craft and/or technical expertise.
  • Applies advanced frameworks and methods of analysis to identify policy problems, analyse the issues, and identify and assess the policy options.
  • Applies advanced system, strategic and critical thinking, clear and logical reasoning and sound judgement to analyse policy issues.
  • Critically synthesises information from a wide variety of domains, uses expert knowledge of the policy area and applies sound judgement to draw
  • Integrates up-to-date information and evidence across relevant policy areas and disciplines to develop new insights and innovative policy solutions despite the imperfections and uncertainty of evidence.
  • Leads engagement with delivery agencies, stakeholders and government agencies on complex/sensitive policy issues and manages the landing of advice/proposals.
  • Drives the use of leading-edge qualitative and quantitative frameworks.
  • Communicates complex issues and concepts clearly and succinctly.
  • Provides authoritative policy advice that recognises the choices and constraints Ministers face, anticipates needs, predicts and plans for potentially controversial or politically sensitive issues, and presents frank advice even if that tests Ministers views and preferences.

Work management

  • Uses project planning and management techniques to effectively carry out the agreed policy work, within the resources available and provides timely reports on progress.
  • Works will little guidance - identifies the overall policy objectives and seeks guidance where required and uses initiative to resolve conflicts, manage risks and coordinate work with others.
  • Leads multiple pieces of work concurrently and actively and independently plans and manages work load.
  • Takes a leadership role in cross-MBIE and cross-government policy projects.
  • Chairs and contributes to meetings, including where matters are complex or sensitive, require negotiation or solutions.

People Leadership

  • Leads project teams and understands and utilises the capability of team members to deliver high quality project outputs.
  • Provides leadership that engages and motivates others to succeed and develop, and proactively share knowledge and ideas.
  • Provides intellectual leadership by bringing new ideas and knowledge to policy discussions and leads strategic conversations in the policy area.
  • Provide supervision, guidance, coaching and mentoring and on-the-job training to team members.
  • Contributes to the performance of the team through providing peer review and quality control including projects and tasks that the Principal Policy Advisor is not leading.

Relationship Management

  • Maintains relationships across a variety of functions and locations. Draws upon multiple relationships to exchange ideas, resources, and know how. Actively seeks to build and maintain a network of contacts.
  • Effectively influences` through engagement and communication with senior stakeholders on domain topic.

Capability development

  • Takes responsibility for own professional development of core, transferable policy skills and seeks opportunities to learn.

Wellbeing, health & safety

  • Displays commitment through actively supporting all safety and wellbeing initiatives
  • Ensures own and others safety at all times
  • Complies with relevant safety and wellbeing policies, procedures, safe systems of work and event reporting
  • Reports all incidents/accidents, including near misses in a timely fashion
  • Is involved in health and safety through participation and consultation

Tō tūranga i roto i te Manatū – Your place in the Ministry

More information about MBIE's structure

To mātou aronga – What we do for Aotearoa New Zealand

Hīkina Whakatutuki is the te reo Māori name for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. Hīkina means to uplift. Whakatutuki means to move forward, to make successful. Our name speaks to our purpose, Grow Aotearoa New Zealand for All.

To Grow Aotearoa New Zealand for All, we put people at the heart of our mahi. Based on the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi / The Treaty of Waitangi, we are committed to upholding authentic partnerships with Māori.

As agile public service leaders, we use our breadth and experience to navigate the ever-changing world. We are service providers, policy makers, investors and regulators. We engage with diverse communities, businesses and regions. Our work touches on the daily lives of New Zealanders. We grow opportunities (Puāwai), guard and protect (Kaihāpai) and innovate and navigate towards a better future (Auaha).

Ngā matatau – Our competencies

Cultivates innovation We create new and better ways for the organisation to be successful by challenging the status quo generating new and creative ideas and translating them into workable solutions.

Nimble learning We are curious and actively learn through experimentation when tackling new problems by learning as we go when facing new situations and challenges.

Customer focus We build strong customer relationships and deliver customer-centric solutions by listening and gaining insights into the needs of the communities we serve and actively seeking and responding to feedback.

Decision quality We make quality and timely decisions that shape the future for our communities and keep the organisation moving forward by relying on an appropriate mix of analysis, wisdom, experience, and judgement to make valid and reliable decisions.

Action oriented We step up, taking on new opportunities and tough challenges with purpose, urgency and discipline by taking responsibility, ownership and action on challenges, and being accountable for the results.

Collaborates We connect, working together to build partnerships with our communities, working collaboratively to meet shared objectives by gaining trust and support of others; actively seeking the views, experiences, and opinions of others and by working co-operatively with others across MBIE, the public sector and external stakeholder groups.

Te Tiriti o Waitangi

As an agency of the public service, MBIE has a responsibility to contribute to the Crown meeting its obligations under Te Tiriti o Waitangi (Te Tiriti). Meeting our commitment to Te Tiriti will contribute towards us realising the overall aims of Te Ara Amiorangi – Our Path, Our Direction, and achieve the outcome of Growing New Zealand for All. The principles of Te Tiriti - including partnership, good faith, and active protection – are at the core of our work. MBIE is committed to delivering on our obligations as a Treaty partner with authenticity and integrity and to enable Māori interests. We are committed to ensuring that MBIE is well placed to meet our obligations under the Public Service Act 2020 (Te Ao Tūmatanui) to support the Crown in strengthening the Māori/Crown Relationship under the Treaty and to build MBIE’s capability, capacity and cultural intelligence to deliver this.

Mahi i roto i te Ratonga Tūmatanui – Working in the public service

Ka mahitahi mātou o te ratonga tūmatanui kia hei painga mō ngā tāngata o Aotearoa i āianei, ā, hei ngā rā ki tua hoki. He kawenga tino whaitake tā mātou hei tautoko i te Karauna i runga i āna hononga ki a ngāi Māori i raro i te Tiriti o Waitangi. Ka tautoko mātou i te kāwanatanga manapori. Ka whakakotahingia mātou e te wairua whakarato ki ō mātou hapori, ā, e arahina ana mātou e ngā mātāpono me ngā tikanga matua o te ratonga tūmatanui i roto i ā mātou mahi.

In the public service we work collectively to make a meaningful difference for New Zealanders now and in the future. We have an important role in supporting the Crown in its relationships with Māori under the Treaty of Waitangi. We support democratic government. We are unified by a spirit of service to our communities and guided by the core principles and values of the public service in our work.

What does it mean to work in Aotearoa New Zealand’s Public Service?(external link) — Te Kawa Mataaho The Public Service Commission

MBIE value: Māia - Bold & brave, Pae Kahurangi - Build our future, Mahi Tahi - Better together, Pono Me Te Tika - Own it