Our people
Our people

Ockham Residential began in 2009, the vision of co-founders Mark Todd and Benjamin Preston who had the good fortune to stumble upon a fine young architect named Tania Wong. More than a decade and 14 completed developments on, these three original Ockhammers remain at the core of the company. They have been joined by a full-time team of more than 90, along with a sizeable 'family' of contractors and other regulars, many of whom have been with Ockham from the beginning. Here's a little more about us.

Our founders

Mark Todd
CEO and co-founder, Ockham Residential

Mark grew up in Mt Wellington, a fifth-generation Aucklander, the son of a tomato farmer, a proud alumnus of Penrose High School (now One Tree Hill College), and an occasional equestrian. He studied Mathematics at the University of Auckland where he met Benjamin Preston — and after graduating, bummed around for a bit, thinking and labouring.

He started a painting business with brother Carl, which morphed into a building business with their father, Lance. In 2009, this evolved into Ockham Residential, the Auckland ‘urban regenerators’ with an ebullient vision for the city’s future. Specifically: "To make beautiful buildings that people love to live in, homes that honour this dynamic Pacific city, stand the test of time, inspire others — and bring an awesome Auckland lifestyle to as many people and communities as we can."

An avowed Auckland enthusiast, a deeply practical idealist and proponent of ‘density done well’, Mark believes developers have a responsibility to the communities they help shape. He has contributed to The Spinoff and had the privilege of an hour-long audience with Dame Kim Hill.

Benjamin Preston
Co-founder, Ockham Residential

Benjamin was raised in Mt Wellington, attending Sylvia Park Primary and De La Salle College. He was the first person in his family to go to university, completing a conjoint Commerce and Arts Degree at the University of Auckland. "I was always intrigued by finance and economic history but my real passion was, and continues to be, mathematics," he says.  

 After landing a job as a quantitative analyst with Macquarie Bank in Sydney straight from university, Benjamin was then seconded to Johannesburg in 1997 to trade long-term foreign exchange. From there, he moved to the world’s banking capital, London, taking a role as Vice President of Commodity Sales with Goldman Sachs. He was lured back to Macquarie in 2000 to head up their London branch, managing more than 100 staff, and building their fixed income, currencies, and commodities business. The pinnacle of his banking career was becoming Head of Power Trading in Houston, Texas. 

He stepped away from the finance sector and trained to be a teacher at Rice University in 2015, going on to teach mathematics at two Texan schools. By 2018, Benjamin was ready to return home so his two sons could finish their schooling in New Zealand. He currently lectures at the University of Auckland and plans to start a PhD next year. Outside work hours, he’s playing his mandolin, sitting on the organising committee of the Auckland Folk Festival, or strumming Bluegrass tunes with his mates. He also owns a guitar store – “a guitar petting zoo” – in Telluride, Colorado. 

Benjamin is passionate about promoting education and creativity initiatives in Tāmaki Makaurau through the Ockham Collective. “I realised quite quickly that one of the things that we can tangibly do is provide beautiful spaces where people can learn and share their talents. We get to support, and make some enduring relationships with, people who are out there doing really amazing things.”

Our Team

William Deihl
Deputy Chief Executive, Ockham Residential

Will joined Ockham in 2018, starting with work on Avondale apartments, Set. “I loved that we were able to take a piece of land used to house a few people and make it a beautiful place to live and share for many,” he says. Instrumental to the development and success of Ockham Construction, he became Deputy CEO of Ockham Residential in 2022. 

Originally from Bulls, Will first honed his carpentry and management skills building high-end houses for Eaglen Homes in Auckland. He then spent two years working in project management for Transfield before decamping to the UK for a classic Kiwi OE. 

While overseas, Will joined London Projects, building houses in Chelsea and Kensington for football stars and reality TV legends. Next up, he accepted a project management role at construction firm Forcia, focusing on Crown work. He and his wife Holly returned to Aotearoa in 2017.  

Although it’s not Bulls, he has grown to love Auckland – “There are so many beautiful beaches and salt water is good for the soul. The climate is awesome too.” 

Vanessa Irvine
Group Chief Financial Officer

Ockham Residential’s Group CFO, Vanessa Irvine is a Chartered Accountant of over 20 years’ standing. After joining PwC, Vanessa spent 15 years in senior roles in London and Europe, working in financial services for leading global institutions. 

Ockham had the good fortune to recruit her in 2015 and she’s been Group CFO since 2018, adding valuable depth and breadth to Ockham’s lead team with her experience in finance, strategic planning and global business transformation.

When she’s not in the office, she’s spending time with her family on the beautiful Hauraki or relaxing on her beloved Waiheke.

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Fiona Towers
Chief Operating Officer, Projects

Fiona started her career with a Land Management cadetship at the then Department of Lands and Survey, where she was involved in  Crown property transactions and management including acquisitions of land for parks and reserves.

After a stint of living and travelling overseas  she moved to DOC, also working in land and property management  before moving to Auckland City Council’s property team. Her experience there was across multiple strategic assets and collaborating with a wide range of  community and commercial stakeholders. Her next role was at Genesis Energy looking after the Corporate Property team and being fortunate to have an insight into the special places and people, and what is needed to keep the lights on before she joined team Ockham.

“I transitioned from government departments to local government to a SOE,” she says with a chuckle. “Coming to Ockham is the first time I've worked in a privately owned company. But it’s the perfect role because I've always been passionate about building and development and creating usable, beautiful buildings and  community places and  spaces.” In her downtime she loves being able to get outside – you’ll find her walking, mountain biking, relaxing at her family bach in Tauranga, cooking for a get together or planning to do one of the great walks.

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Ben Gibbens
Chief Operating Officer, Construction

Ben’s love of construction was sparked while working school holiday jobs on Auckland building sites. After school, he completed a Bachelor of Construction Economics while also working at Kingston Partners in quantity surveying.

In Ben’s final year of study, he was in the audience when Shane Brealey delivered a lecture on vertical integration of construction companies. “That was what I was doing my thesis on,” says Ben, “So I grabbed the chance to chat to him and he offered me the opportunity to work for his company, NZ Strong.” 

Ben spent the next six years learning the ropes of contractor quantity surveying from Shane. “I was really lucky to spend heaps of time with him. He was more of a mentor than a boss. My career accelerated much faster than most people just because of the exposure I got to his level of thinking.” 

After two years working on high-end apartment buildings in London, Ben returned to New Zealand and applied to work at Ockham because architecture, project management and construction are all in-house. “The construction industry can be very adversarial and very contractual,” says Ben. “At Ockham, there is way less aggro. Being vertically integrated lends itself more to collaboration, so it’s a more enjoyable process to deliver a building.” 

When he’s not at Ockham, Ben’s spending as much time as he can with his son Louie, enjoying a round of golf, or catching up with friends. 

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Kate Duncan
Head of Sales

Real Estate is in Kate’s blood. Her mum, Anne Duncan – founder of Anne Duncan Real Estate – showed Kate the ropes when she was back home in Auckland on a break from studying law and finance at the University of Otago. It was a case of needs must.

“Mum had surgery on her shoulder and needed someone to drive her around and write up the contracts while she recuperated," she says. “That’s how I got my start!”

Kate loved the excitement of helping people find their perfect home, so she took a break from the books and got stuck into sales. She honed her skills with her mum for several years before starting at Custom Residential as their Growth and Performance Manager. Kate crossed the ditch to work at Sydney’s Ray White Double Bay for five years but was lured back to New Zealand to work at Harcourts, training up fellow real estate agents across the whole of the South Island. She did return to study eventually - finishing her MBA in 2015.

Ockham nabbed Kate for the Head of Sales role when she moved back to central Auckland from Kawakawa Bay, and she is currently in charge of what she describes as “the dream sales team”.  When our shining sales star is not at Ockham, Kate can be found at the gym, powering through the pool, or doting on her two nephews.

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Tania Wong
Head of Architecture

The first step on Tania’s path to Ockham was tech drawing at Avondale College. She loved the precision and creativity of the subject – she was drawing up imaginary houses at 13 – and subsequently studied architecture at the University of Auckland.

She landed her first job out of Uni in Vancouver, measuring and drawing up community colleges. Tania returned to New Zealand for her graduation and started work at Stephenson and Turner in the CAD department. One of the directors, Geoff Land, swiftly recognised Tania’s talent and drafted her onto his projects. “I learnt a huge amount from him,” Tania admits. After a couple of years, she moved back to Canada, living in Toronto, and working for a graphic designer before the bright lights of London lured her to the UK. There, she focused mainly on renovations of venerable London buildings for City North Group. She completed her registration back home at MGA Innovation, working on industrial and commercial developments.

In 2009, Tania started at Ockham and her distinctive, beautiful designs have been an integral part of our success. Tania loves living in Auckland. “I love the beaches and I love Rangitoto and it's steadily becoming a multicultural city, which is fantastic.” In her spare time, Tania tears up the tennis court at Dunholme or relaxes on Kawau Island. She enjoys taking underwater photographs and is a keen diver and fisher.

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Peter Malcouronne
Head of Content & Communications

If you have any media queries, Peter Malcouronne is your go-to chap. His team also look after Ockham’s words, images and ‘story’ – honest propaganda if you will – and oversee the relationship we have with our sponsorees and partners.

Since his feature-writing career began with a story in The Listener on a nudist camp open day, Peter has won numerous national and international journalism awards. In the two decades since, he has paddled through Parnell sewers, attended dog shows, profiled boxers, wood choppers and seditionists – and dabbled as ‘Dr Love Professor’, possibly the world’s most inept dating columnist. He has also written two books – a sentimental and non-best-selling ode to rugby, and a rather more successful opus on Aotea Great Barrier Island. The father of two enjoys AC/DC, ABBA, West Auckland culture, cats and YouTube clips of Shane Bond’s yorkers

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Joss Lewis
Sales Team Leader

Joss credits her parents for her incredible work ethic. They were in the hotel industry, so her first job was cleaning rooms in a luxury hotel in Bath, aged 13. Her family loved to travel and Joss discovered a flair for languages, which led to a BA (Hons) in Modern Languages.

After graduating, Joss was snapped by a PR agency who appreciated her ability to pitch stories to French and Spanish journos. She rose through the ranks of public relations but left a high-powered job at AOL’s London branch to try her hand at real estate. “I think as a young person my impression of PR was that it was going to be more like sales. I realised that was my strong point and real estate was right up my alley,” says Joss. She now boasts nearly 20 years’ sales experience in the real estate industry, predominantly in residential sales.

The London native followed her Kiwi husband to Aotearoa in 2008 and started with Ockham when their seven-year-old daughter Evie was a baby. Thanks to her superlative sales skills and sparkling personality, she’s now our Sales Team Leader. When she’s not at work, she takes advantage of the outdoorsy lifestyle Auckland offers. “I love that we're five minutes away from the beach. On the weekends we take the kids surfing and boogie boarding, or head out west for a spot of mountain biking, tramping or horse riding. If I was still living in London, these definitely wouldn’t be options!”

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Adrienne Wong
Head of Design

Adrienne perfected her graphic design skills volunteering on the University of Auckland’s student mag, Craccum, while completing a BA. Adrienne began working in advertising after uni, starting out Colenso BDDO before winning a spot at the Australian Advertising School.

She worked in Sydney before landing a role as an art director at TBWA in Johannesburg. “That was one of my favourite jobs ever,” says Adrienne. “I was thrown into TV commercials straight away and I learnt so much!”

Art was always Adrienne’s first love though, and she jumped at the opportunity to study visual arts at the University of Arts London. While working as a professional artist and freelance graphic designer, her art was selected for international art prize exhibitions in the UK and USA.

It was Adrienne who designed Ockham’s distinctive Möbius strip logo in 2010. “Both Mark and Ben have mathematical backgrounds, so creating a logo out of something abstract like a mathematical symbol was intriguing to investigate,” she says. She collaborated with her sister Tania on various signage and design projects for Ockham until her return to Aotearoa from the US, when she became our Head of Graphic Design. When she’s not creating beautiful brochures, advertisements and logos for Ockham, she’s creating beautiful works of art. You’ll find several of her paintings gilding the walls of the Ockham building, Kōkihi and The Isaac.

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