Sam Ponniah

A proven strategic and analytical thinker, Sam focuses on understanding his clients’ needs and partnering with them to co-design practical, evidence-based solutions 

Sam Ponniah is an experienced policy and infrastructure adviser with a proven track record in both strategic and applied thinking. He has a deep understanding of the transport sector and is experienced in business case development, infrastructure policy, local government settings, and urban planning.

Through active listening and applying the right analytical frameworks, Sam creates order and focus out of complexity and gets to the core challenge or opportunity at hand. An innovative thinker, he develops and then evaluates a range of options to arrive at a solution that is practical and well understood. 

Sam is a skilled communicator who is adept at building partnerships with multiple stakeholders. He prides himself on providing stakeholders with a voice and bringing them along on the journey. He values co-design processes that take full advantage of existing knowledge and perspectives, and he invests in key relationships along the way to ensure success.

Sam understands legislative and regulation-making processes. He has advised Ministers and supported central and local government processes.

Other examples of Sam’s work include:

  • Leading the preparation of advice to government on business cases for large transport infrastructure projects in Auckland, including the East West Link, City Rail Link and Light Rail

  • Leading analysis to support the government negotiating team for the City Rail Link project and sponsor agreements with Auckland Council – this included applying commercial logic and researching best practice in project delivery and governance arrangements

  • Providing policy support and leadership for a cross-agency initiative to align the strategic approach of both central government and Auckland Council with transport in Auckland – this included developing an agreed intervention logic; preparing advice for Ministers, the Mayor and Councillors; and supporting the implementation of the initiative

  • Project manager for New Zealand’s presidency of the International Transport Forum (an OECD-affiliated transport body) in 2014/15 – this included preparing a large body of advice for the Minister, planning an exhibition stand for New Zealand businesses, and supporting planning for an annual summit of transport ministers

  • Analysis of airline alliance applications, including analysis of market dynamics, pricing, competition effects and the national interest

  • Leading the development of a regulatory impact statement for the proposal to lower drink driving limits in 2013

  • Supporting a major review of the legislation governing New Zealand’s civil aviation sector.

Sam has a BCA in Economics and a BSc with First Class Honours in Psychology from Victoria University.