About us

Optimism was established in 1988 by learning and development expert, Sussan Ockwell. Since then, Optimism has become a leading provider of capability and learning solutions for corporates operating in New Zealand - and globally.

We're passionate about developing capability and confidence individually and collectively, and we thrive on creating innovative solutions that deliver a competitive edge and long-term results.

What gives us the greatest satisfaction? Seeing companies succeed globally as a result of the competitive advantage we've helped them develop.

Our team



Sussan Ockwell
BBS (Mgmt), Dip BBS (T&D)

Sussan founded Optimism (formerly Ockwell) in 1988. With more than 25 years' experience in L&D strategy and design, she is the creator of our proven methodologies and the driving force behind our pursuit of innovative approaches to capability.

Her clients and colleagues appreciate the energy, enthusiasm and high standards she brings to all her work. Sussan is inspired by delivering solutions that our clients love.

Sussan has worked with many clients for years, as a trusted partner in their L&D planning where she contributes her broad and deep L&D knowledge and experience and is often the 'go to' for up-to-date thought leadership. She says seeing how Optimism helps companies (and individuals) grow and succeed gives her huge satisfaction.

Promoting a strong, positive culture of ownership at Optimism and sharing success with the team, is important to Sussan. With her guiding principle for the business being "profit for a purpose" Sussan actively applies this through special 'love' projects.



Rob Leyland
Client Partner
Bachelor of Communication Studies, AUT

Want to scope out an upcoming project? Talk about your team's capability needs? Just have a chat about augmented reality?

Rob is your guy.

Previously a Digital Account Director at an Auckland advertising agency and a Youthline group facilitator, Rob has a rare super-power... He listens before he speaks. This means Rob is a master of getting to know your business to understand your challenges rather than just blabbing on about what we do.

And besides, what we do is simple... pretty much everything to do with strategic learning solutions!

Our team have an incredibly broad set of specialist skills and backgrounds covering all aspects of learning and development. And with Rob helping you navigate all the opportunities, you are sure to find the perfect solution to your current challenge.

Get in touch with Rob now and set up a time to talk.

09 973 2491



Toni Rogers
Learning Partner
Dip BBS (T&D)

Toni has been working with Optimism since shortly after it was founded - although she has dipped in and out a few times over the years to broaden and add to her corporate experience.

Toni particularly enjoys working alongside our partnership clients, really getting to know them in order to create learning solutions that impact the success of both the people and the business.

Although Toni has a creative bent, she is the "keeper of the methodology" and ensures that we all operate within the framework that keeps our projects on time, to budget and to the level of quality deserving of our reputation. Toni also brings a calming and levelling influence to the team, as she is relatively unflappable in a company of creatives.

Toni is committed to Optimism's long term growth and development, and this is particularly evident during Sussan's absences when Toni takes on the Deputy CEO role and has the final say on both internal and external matters.



Nicola Macdonald
Learning Partner
Dip Coaching & Mentoring

Nicola previously worked for City & Guilds in London designing and delivering training solutions in-house, and working on assessment for learner qualifications. Her broad overseas experience and indepth knowledge of competency-based learning are valuable factors she brings to every client project when creating learner-focused solutions.

At Optimism, she loves working with a wide range of clients across different industries, and especially with the clients who are down to earth, fun people to work with.

Nicola says the best part of her role is working closely with our Developers to see her ideas come to life, creating eLearning that gets awesome results. She also looks forward to the weekly "show and tell" team meeting (over drinks).

"Optimism are a great team to work with and the collaborative approach that we take to everything is a daily highlight. Everyone here has great ideas and works really hard to make sure that we deliver the highest quality solutions - every time."



Louise Weeks
Learning Partner
CIPD L&D Electives (Post-Graduate Scheme)

Louise has worked in the Learning and Development field for organisations over in the UK for 10+ years and has used a range of learning methods to deliver return on investment whilst giving the learners a positive and engaging experience.

She has previously set up a learning and development team across multiple sites and has experience of implementing new systems as well as establishing leadership, compliance, technical and soft skills learning solutions.

Louise loves working on different projects and has a passion for bringing learning to life.



Jo Lascelles
Learning Partner
BSLT Speech and Language Therapy, Certificate in English Language Teaching for Adults

Jo has a talent and passion for making complex content easy to access, understand and apply. Jo loves using her skills to create learning materials that help the end user 'get' the information they need. She does this by creating accessible, engaging learning resources that are cleverly chunked to make the learning journey as streamlined as possible.

Having worked as a freelance instructional designer for the last five years, Jo has created a variety of eLearning and face-to-face training resources for a range of clients, with a particular focus on video-based presentations. This spread of projects has given Jo experience across a wide range of learning contexts.



Rebecca Breen
Services Manager
BBus (Mgmt & Mkting), Cert eMkting

Rebecca is passionate about all things business and has devoted much of her career to understanding what makes organisations function successfully.

She believes strongly in building solid, long-lasting relationships and nothing makes her happier than a satisfied client!

With a varied background in marketing, product management, HR, business system and process development and general business management, Rebecca works to ensure that the day to day operations at Optimism keep humming along.



Jeff Bavage
Digital Developer
BSc (Computer Science & Information Systems), Dip (Multimedia)

Jeff brings technical expertise along with creative ideas, for providing visually engaging interactive eLearning. He delivers digital solutions that look fantastic, engage the learner, have intuitive interactions and which are completely bug-free!

Jeff applies his strong problem solving and programming skills, along with his eye for detail and design, to each piece of work and encourages excellence across the development team. He says the best part of his work is seeing a project come to life and being proud of the end result.

Jeff joined Optimism from a period of independent multimedia contracting, and after being a senior developer elsewhere. He is highly experienced, and has developed all types of eLearning from compliance through to complex simulations and games.

Jeff is proud of the work he does at Optimism, and is continuing to drive into new areas and technologies, while streamlining our team's development processes and continually enhancing the quality of our deliverables.



Kevin Chen
Digital Developer
BCGD (Bachelor Computer Graphic Design)

Kevin's experience in multimedia and web interface, along with his degree in computer graphic design, provides him with the right skills to be the talented eLearning developer that he is. His web design, video editing, motion graphics and animation all come to play in developing learning solutions.

Kevin takes pride in creating interactions supplemented by animations and motion graphics, which will ensure effective and engaging experiences for learners,

Kevin enjoys loves the cooperative teamwork that creates brilliant ideas every day, and enjoys working on projects where he can see the difference that his learning solutions can make.



Chee Low
Digital Developer
BA (Digital Media), Dip (Multimedia)

Chee draws on his talent for graphics, illustration and website functionality to create amazing, interactive online learning modules and other digital media for our clients.

Since working at Optimism, he has further developed his knowledge of project planning, interactive design and interface usability. He says being able to broaden and sharpen his skills while working on a variety of client projects is hugely satisfying.

With an eye to the future, Chee is eager to keep learning and looking to apply innovative thinking to his work to so that he can produce outstanding results for our clients and play an active role in the future of the company.



Taryn Sun
Digital Developer
Dip Art and Design, Dip Visual Effects and Motion Graphics

Taryn is a graphic designer whose skills range across print media, digital design and motion graphic creation (animation, TVC, website). Taryn's previous work was as a freelance designer and feels that since working at Optimism she has established a broader base of interactive ideas and new techniques and skills.

Taryn enjoys the friendly atmosphere at the Optimism office and loves working on projects that are challenging as it gives her a great sense of accomplishment when it is complete.



Rômulo Rocha
Mobile/Web Architect
BSc (Computer Science), OCMJEA certified

Rômulo joins us after working as a software engineer in Brazil for the last 9 years (although he is originally from Portugal). He is a Web and Mobile Specialist and has been programming since 1996.

He brings a depth of experience working in large companies across a wide range of projects incorporating Java, Penetration Test, Mobile, Software Development, Design Patterns, UML, J2EE, database and agile methodology.

Rômulo is enthusiastic about new technologies and is continually updating his knowledge and expertise to apply new trends and best practices. He is looking forward to using his technical and problem solving skills to create Optimism's great mobile solutions.



Jouet en Peluche
Office Toy

Jouet the Bichon Frise has been brightening the Optimism offices for over 8 years. Although her French name is "stuffed toy", she mostly responds to Puppy. She spends her days lolling about on people's desks or on the couch. She's partial to coffee, tuna and chicken - and demands lots of cuddles. She especially comes alive for her lunchtime stroll and the 6pm leaving hour. What she loves most about Optimism is hanging out with all her special aunties and uncles.