Get to know
Sussan Ockwell
The Induction Maven

Although Sussan was born in England, her family moved to New Zealand when she was young so she grew up in the Wellington area, near New Zealand’s capital city.

Sussan gained early entrance to University, then left school when she was 16 as school had become a little boring. In her early working years, she took administration and data roles in a bank, a bottling company and an insurance company. In the meantime, she had been completing a Bachelor of Business Studies and Diploma of Training & Development extramurally. Her studies and her aptitude for teaching others, landed her an exceptional training and documentation role for an energy company.

When she was 22, Sussan left the energy company to co-found a company publishing a weekly employment magazine. But sadly, the venture lasted less than a year. Her business partner left for paid employment, never to be seen again. But Sussan decided to gather the content she’d collated, and write an instructional booklet called Marketing Yourself for Employment. It was an instant success and sold almost 15,000 copies. The booklet sales paid the office overheads, and soon companies and government departments were requesting that Sussan design and deliver seminars and workshops for employees who were being affected by restructuring.

From there, corporate learning contracts kept coming and the business expanded, and Sussan hired her first employees. (One of those, Toni, is still with Optimism today!) And as new technologies arrived on the scene, Sussan and her team incorporated them into their work, and developed a reputation for being at the forefront of digital learning (ie. eLearning and beyond).

The company was initially called Ockwell (thanks to some very expensive branding experts!) but it was changed to Optimism in 2005, when Sussan left operational consulting to take on fulltime leadership of the company.

Optimism is one of the longest-standing Learning & Development companies in the industry. This is underpinned by the methodologies that Sussan develops to support her Learning Partners to deliver great value to their clients (such as the comprehensive learning and performance system, OWL™ - Optimizing Workplace Learning). The company has maintained its reputation for excellence, and both Sussan and Optimism continue to receive industry accolades and awards.

Sussan still leads Optimism, the company she founded many years ago. However, Sussan has refocused on her first love of Induction, becoming established as The Induction Maven. Her goal is to help many more companies increase the engagement and performance of their new employees – to the benefit of both organisations and the people who join them.

To make this easier for companies, Sussan has designed the New Employee Optimization or NEO™ Methodology, which is built on the three key steps of Quantifying the Value of Induction, Identifying the Optimal Elements, and Formulating the Implementation Plan.

Sussan is an active member of the Entrepreneurs Organisation, and sits on the Board. She also leads a Business Women’s group under the LIFE banner, and is involved with Flame Cambodia supporting families living in slums.

Sussan is married to Kirk, and they live in Auckland, New Zealand. They have a hyperactive little bichon called Momo, who loves to come to work.

In her spare time she loves to travel, so feel free to invite her to speak at one of your events.

Recent Awards


Mega Star of the Year - Entrepreneurs Organisation New Zealand


Best Technical Training Project (Gold) - LearnX Australia


Learning & Development Person of the Year - NZATD


Learning Practitioner of the Year - NZATD


IELA Honourable Mention eLearning - International eLearning Awards NY


Diane Foreman Scholarship to EY Darden - Virginia University


IELA Overall Winner, Business Category - International eLearning Awards NY


Entrepreneurial Winning Women - EY


Overall Winner eLearning - eLearNZ