General Manager Commercial and Regulation, First Gas
- Bachelor of Management Studies
- Bachelor of Laws (Hons)
If you’re looking for a challenging career, then consider working in the energy sector. It’s a complex environment, particularly these days as policy makers across the world try to figure out how to decarbonise successfully without sacrificing reliability and cost to the consumer.
Ben Gerritsen leads the strategy, marketing and regulatory teams at New Zealand’s largest gas network First Gas, and alongside that he’s also responsible for the commercial operations of the company’s pipeline businesses. Ben has a BMS/LLB(Hons) from the University of Waikato and a Master of Public Policy from Georgetown University in Washington DC.
“When I left Waikato I worked as a solicitor for two years, mostly in dispute resolution and I found the most interesting cases I worked on were for energy sector clients,” Ben says.
Four years out of university and working at Genesis Energy, Ben started to think about doing some postgraduate study. He heard about Fulbright Scholarships, applied and was accepted into Georgetown, which meant he lived in the USA for three years.
He says both university experiences have helped shape his career. “While law and economics were my focus at Waikato, I also picked up papers from other disciplines within the Management School and in Computer Science. I think it’s a good idea to broaden your perspectives, do a range of subjects, and Waikato gave me the flexibility to do that. I also entered the various Law School competitions, mooting and negotiation, and had trips with teams to Australia and Singapore for international competitions.”
He likes it when he comes across fellow Waikato grads, which he did while studying in America, and over the years as a graduate he has come back to the Hamilton campus to talk to potential students about his university experience. “And then it’s always nice when taking on new staff to employ Waikato graduates,” he says.
At Georgetown, Ben studied at the McCourt School of Public Policy which has a strong international focus. His learning there has contributed to his deep understanding of infrastructure economics and regulation.
When he returned to New Zealand, Ben joined Castalia, a group of experts who work in economics, finance, law and infrastructure policy with a focus on natural resources. He became managing director at Castalia in Wellington, leaving in 2016 to take up his position at First Gas.
In 2019 Ben was named New Zealand’s Young Energy Professional of the Year at the Deloitte Energy Excellence Awards. This award recognised his work with gas industry participants to create harmonised new rules for pipeline access and use (the Gas Transmission Access Code) and his close involvement in the acquisition and integration of the Rockgas LPG business and Ahuroa gas storage facility in 2018.
“My job at First Gas is a good mix of commercial and policy,” he says. “It’s a good time to be engaged in a global challenge striving to get that mix of energy and resources that we can rely on, keep the economy ticking over and lowering our carbon footprint. Nobody has all the answers but we’re doing our best to create new energy options and make the best decisions for everyone involved.”