“I first started working with Cassandra as the seconded Prison Manager and I discussed the areas of development that I had identified – people management was high on the list. I wanted to be able to evidence that performance was being actively managed in an appropriate manner. I also wanted to creative a vision that would guide lasting behavioural change. For a number of years I have been driven to humanise prisons. Rimutaka Pride is my vision to achieve this and in my own mind I knew exactly what it looked like. Cassandra was able to coach me through the process of having a personal vision to communicating and implementing the changes needed to make my vision the Prison’s vision. Cassandra achieved this by coaching me through a number of different decision-making frameworks.

Cassandra also helped me develop competencies such as listening skills, confronting direct reports and motivating others. This has been invaluable and has enabled this site to step up to the changing environment. We are going to be facing a lot of change in the New Year and this site is not only ready but is welcoming of that change. She has coached myself and other managers in how to use Courageous Conversations and other effective and timely way on managing performance. As a result of this work the process is being widely used and feedback conversations are taking place and being evidenced.

Finally Cassandra has encouraged us to speak out about our successes. This may not seem that big a deal, but Rimutaka Prison gained a reputation a number of years ago that rocked its confidence and the site is very weary of sticking its hand up in the fear that it will draw negative attention. There are some who will always seek out the negative and I have already received some negative comments about some of the initiatives we are trying to implement, mainly because they challenge existing thinking and this can make people feel threatened. Cassandra has given us the strength to stand up to criticism and to emphasise the positive. Something we are getting very good at.

Without Cassandras support and encouragement my ability to lead the changes needed would have been severely affected. I am now able to link my personal goals and values with the strategic goals of the Department and this has created a win-win work environment.

~ Richard Symonds, 
 Prison Manager, Rimutaka Prison


“Cassandra was a brilliant coach.  She is very competent and has certainly helped me on the path of becoming a better manager in the future.”

~Neil Dunn, Hotel Manager


“Well done Cassandra, you have touched so many lives and created a real positive atmosphere out there at Rimutaka Prison. I look forward to opportunities that we can get involved in again together.”

~ Denise Amesbury, 
National Learning and Development Manager, Prison Service, Department of Corrections