Autumn Conversations: Meet the Christchurch panel, Wednesday 14 April 2021

6 months ago by

CHRISTCHURCH DA Event: Autumn Conversations – The business of design today

April 14 @ 6:00 pm8:00 pm

Plato Creative, 63 Manchester Street, Christchurch

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One year on from the emergence of Covid-19 in Aotearoa and we have all been affected by the global pandemic in many and different ways. It’s time to check with you all and ask how are you doing? How is your studio or practice going?

Join your professional local community as we navigate the topic of The Business of Design amidst Covid-19.

It’s hard enough finding your way as a designer but how do you create and maintain a thriving business that aligns with your life? We’ll hear from our local panel as they share their stories, tips and tricks that have helped them navigate the last year in the business of design.  The Christchurch panel will feature:


Facilitator: Donna Maxwell, Founder, Running Mate

Donna was an owner and director of DNA for 10+ years. The last three years of her tenure at DNA were in the role of General Manager, responsible for ensuring the agency was well-designed to hit both commercial and strategic goals.

Donna now runs a consultancy called Running Mate, which she set up to help business owners and leaders grow and sustain good businesses. Donna offers coaching, strategic consulting, project-based work and business-sitting. She also has multiple governance positions.

This year, Donna will be leading DA’s new Business of Design workshop series in Auckland. This series of three workshops will help studios large or small with continuous improvement of the things that keep an agency running well. Register to attend one, or all three in Auckland.

John Plato – Managing Partner, PlatoCreative

John co-founded Plato Creative in 2007 with a simple ambition to help like-minded operators drive effective commercial outcomes. Fast-forward over a decade and Plato has grown to a team of over 40 people covering the spectrum of business-led creative and marketing services. John’s business nous and drive has guided numerous clients toward building measurable success. He cites a focus of growing long-term relationships and driving healthy-people cultures as key for any business. 

Mark Spurgeon

Co-founder / Managing Partner – Publica

Mark has strong opinions about pencils over pens, text alignment, and typographic impact. Having been in the design game for 35 years, Mark has held senior roles in creative agencies across Europe, Australia and New Zealand. 
We don’t need to spell out the variety of clients, organisational scale and industry that comes with that territory. The most rousing project he’s embarked on, though, was co-founding Publica 11 years ago. With the studio starting out as a traditionally-focussed creative agency, Mark and his team now spend their days bridging the gap between users and their digital intentions.

Libby Oborn

Co-founder & Director – Libby & Ben

Libby’s life-long passion for creativity has been the driver for a career entrenched within creative agencies. In her earlier years she held various senior creative roles within NZ agencies, then in 2012 she co-founded L&B with her brother Ben. Libby heads up the agency’s Christchurch studio.

She’s less likely to be found ‘on the tools’ today than in the early days. Instead she takes huge satisfaction from seeing L&B’s talented creative team tackle client briefs to deliver authentic, inspiring and impactful brand experiences that drive results.

L&B develops brands for a digitally led world, with a particular focus on working with companies striving to make a more purposeful impact on their communities.

Stephen McCarthy – Director, McCarthy

As founder of McCarthy in Christchurch Stephen runs the studio with creative partner Matthew Kitto. Working with clients that appreciate the craft and the power of good design to communicate. See more at


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