1 What inspired you to apply for the chief executive’s role at the RMBF?
I have been involved in the property sector from a valuation, property management, real estate and senior management perspective all my working life. Accordingly, I have been in and around the construction industry which has always interested me.
When the job was advertised I saw it as an exciting opportunity to continue to be involved in the property sector but from another perspective, and to use my senior management expertise at the same time.
2 What was your biggest achievement at Land Information New Zealand (LINZ)?
I think there are a number of things I am pleased about. But to name a couple — one would be as Valuer-General and overseeing the introduction of contestable valuations for rating after a Government monopoly for more than 100 years. This took a significant amount of involvement with territorial authorities and, looking back, the entire transition went very smoothly.
Another would be my time as General Manager Regulatory and reducing the number of LINZ documents relating to standards from 290+ to around 35.
3 How do you think your experience in property and valuation will help you get to grips with the issues in the construction industry?
I think the property sectors I have worked in are all inter-related and follow similar patterns of activity and pressures — for example, boom and bust economic cycles, particularly in domestic construction/real estate.
These are felt as keenly in real estate and valuation as in construction. The influences on each sub-sector are similar, particularly those relating to the amount of Government intervention (red tape), sustainability, technological advances in construction, education, training and professionalism, and representation at the right forums.
I have had involvement in many of these areas in the past, and think I can bring experience to help the RMBF going forward.
4 What do you see as your biggest challenge for the next 12 months?
I think there are a couple of things — keeping the momentum that has been started already and getting to know everyone in the industry and them getting to know me. It is always easier to discuss issues and ideas once everyone has met face to face, so it will be important to ensure this happens.
The economic uncertainty at present and the future is very unclear but the effects on the construction sector are not looking promising, at least in the short term.
Accordingly, I think it’s important the RMBF does all it can to help members in what is shaping up to be a potentially difficult time.
5 What do you think is the most important issue facing the construction industry today?
I don’t think there is any one most important issue, and everyone may have a different view depending on their perspective and current pressures. There are many issues that the construction industry faces and they can be separated into short term and longer term ones.
For example, there is no doubt the current worldwide credit crunch problem is an immediate issue the sector has to grapple with, given the effects shoot home virtually instantly to property financing, refurbishments and the amount of construction available.
But then I think there are the longer term issues that I have mentioned above which will always be issues a professional body such as the RMBF will have to keep abreast of.
6 What do you see as the RMBF’s role in turning these issues around?
The RMBF’s ability to influence the current credit squeeze and its effects are basically nil. However, it can continue to strive to make housing more affordable and, therefore, attractive to home owners by meeting customer needs and being highly professional in its services to members so that they can produce a first-class product that distinguishes itself in the marketplace and creates demand.
I see the RMBF doing this by continuing to promote training and development, providing members with quality information, influencing regulation, working with wider industry sectors and further brand recognition. I am sure there are many other ideas that members have that will also assist.
7 What is your view on the advantage/benefits that the RMBF can offer its members?
I think there are many. I see the RMBF as having a critical role to play in all the areas mentioned above. Its ability to act as a representative expert body that speaks for the construction industry to Government should not be underestimated.
The RMBF has the presence to influence government policy to members’ advantage and to minimise negative impacts.
Branding of the RMBF’s members and quality of workmanship in the eyes of the public as a first choice provider of building services is something an individual will struggle to get traction on at a national level.
Keeping members fully informed of the latest construction techniques, advances in materials, “green” technology, training and being a conduit for customer feedback is also a big advantage.
But probably the biggest advantage is working together as a single industry focused on the same goals and direction, and moving the sector forward to cope with what the future will demand.
8 How do you spend your time (when not at work)? And your golf handicap is . . . ?
Well, you might laugh at this but I spend a lot of the time doing up my villa in Wellington (love it). But I assure you only the “non-structural”. And my golf handicap is 17.1, but I have just bought a new driver so it will soon be 19.1!