Work/life balance is key for BRANZ CEO

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When and where were you born and raised?

I am Wellington born and bred.

What schools and tertiary institutes did you attend, and what relevant qualifications did you obtain?

Kelburn Normal School and Wellington Girls’ College. I gained a Bachelor of Law and Bachelor of Arts (History) from Victoria University of Wellington. Since then I have undertaken a range of professional development opportunities.

What are your family/other interests/hobbies away from the workplace?

My family is my main focus when I am not at work. As a family we are into boats and have a collection ranging from sailing dinghies to fishing boats to a 44-foot sailing boat.

Summers are spent working out how to maximise time in the boats, and winter is spent calculating the cost of maintaining the boats!

In addition to sailing, there are the usual Kiwi family passions of sports — particularly rugby and football. Personally, I am into arts and music, and the advent of the i-Pad means I can now more easily indulge my passion for reading as it is easier to sneak an iBook into the house than yet another physical book!

What were your previous career positions held, going right back to your first job after completing your education/studies through to any senior management/chief executive roles before moving to BRANZ?

My first job after finishing my studies was as a project co-ordinator with Fuelquip New Zealand. From there I went to Telecom New Zealand where I held a number of roles that gave me a wide range of experiences, such as negotiating contracts with clients, running call centres, and business development.

After Telecom I worked for an international telecommunications company, InterCall, where I set up and ran their New Zealand business. I then worked with the Electricity Supply Industry Training Organisation for three years as CEO.

Following that I moved into the science and innovation sector, first with Scion as GM Corporate Services and Acting CEO, then to Industrial Research Ltd as CEO of KiwiStar Optics.

When Industrial Research Ltd became part of Callaghan Innovation in February 2013, I joined the interim executive team working on product development.

How long have you been at BRANZ, and what was it that most attracted you to the CEO position at the organisation?

I joined BRANZ in November 2013. The thing that most attracted me to the position was the opportunity to work with a great group of people who are passionate about helping the industry build great buildings for New Zealanders.

After eight months I can honestly say I have a fantastic job, and I look forward to coming to work each day.

How would you describe your management/communication style? How do you manage conflict, how do you reward excellent work performance and how do you manage poor performance?

I like to think that I adapt my management/communication style to the situation, and am happy to switch between coaching, authoritative, and affiliative styles as the need arises.

I have very high standards when it comes to professional competence. I value independent thinking and like to be surrounded by people willing to challenge my thinking as I tend to be very forthright in my opinions.

I tend to be open minded, honest and direct. I believe that organisational and personal performance comes from having a shared set of expectations at organisational and individual levels.

While it can take time to develop this shared understanding, the investment is worthwhile as it motivates high performance and also creates a platform to discuss performance issues.

What do you think is your most important trait/commodity? What do you attribute your success to?

I think my most important trait is that I see myself as a continuous self-improvement project. By reflecting on situations I am able to be aware of how my emotions and actions affect people around me.

This reflection has allowed me to take responsibility for my behaviours and take ownership of how I have contributed to situations. This has given me better insight into how I operate and has allowed me to learn how to adapt my style to better meet the needs of others.

What is your personal work ethic, and how do you think this affects the organisation’s culture?

Early in my career I learned that I had to manage my workload so that I had enough time to relax and re-energise. I am very focused when at work, which allows me to be very productive when in the office. But I also monitor my energy levels and recognise that if they are starting to drop that I need to stop.

I try to manage my diary so that I get time to relax with my family most evenings, and we have very family-oriented weekends. I like to think that BRANZ’s culture has supported me to continue to ensure that I keep balance in my life.

What is your priority for BRANZ in the context of the current state of the New Zealand construction industry. What is the biggest challenge you feel your organisation faces, and how do you inspire your employees to meet it head on?

Here at BRANZ we are in the middle of a strategy refresh process which will set the vision and direction for the organisation over the next three to five years.

It is an exciting time, and a key focus for BRANZ will be to work out how to transform our insightful research into accessible knowledge for the industry at a time when the industry is busier than ever.

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