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Public Trust Retail Manager With Personal Touch

News Release 12 September 2002

Public Trust Appoints Retail Manager With Personal Touch

The personal touch is paramount when it comes to the business of Wills, says Public Trust’s newly appointed General Manager, Retail Sarah Thompson.

English born Mrs Thompson says Wills and estate management services, by their nature, make people confront their mortality and therefore require a very personal approach.

“In this business people appreciate face to face contact – in fact it’s absolutely essential. Public Trust staff have to have strong relationships with customers as we are asking some hugely personal questions. A high level of trust is needed on both sides.’’

Public Trust is well placed to provide that personal touch as its sales staff have a strong mix of experienced campaigners and young, high-energy individuals.

“It’s very interesting - we have several people in our team who have over 25 years experience. While you need young people involved you do have to have that depth of knowledge and experience. That’s priceless and too often organisations allow it to walk out the door.”

Blending the sageness of experienced workers with young members of the retail team is a challenge she’s looking forward to getting her teeth into.

Only a month into her new job, Mrs Thompson isn’t yet eyeing any big reforms on the retail side. “I haven’t yet formed a strong view, but one of the obvious goals is to work closely with all other general managers and their departments to collectively ensure Public Trust is successful and profitable.”

“One personal goal I’ve set myself is to ensure that I spend at least a day or more at every customer centre in the country each year.” There are some 36 customer centres located between Whangarei and Invercargill, with 190 staff to manage and a call centre in Christchurch.

Since emigrating to New Zealand in 1994, Mrs Thompson has worked in marketing, operational and e-business roles for Telecom, insurer Prudential and energy company Contact Energy.

She rates the Kiwi lifestyle highly and her decision to move here permanently came following a holiday down-under to visit a girlfriend in the 1980s.

Her role at Public Trust is her most senior yet. During her career she’s always been thrust into positions where she’s had to learn quickly. At Contact Energy she was head of retail operations – a role which required her to merge nine businesses over 10 months in 1999.

“It was very challenging and a lot of fun. I learned a lot along the way.”

Mrs Thompson’s joined Public Trust because she was seeking a new challenge and liked the strength of the Public Trust brand. She’s also the first woman to make it into the organisation’s senior management team.

Watching from outside the organisation, she had noted Public Trust was getting on the front foot in terms of offering new products such as Wills online and Pre Paid Estate Administration as well as going through a modernisation process.

‘’It’s fair to say I’m one of those people that like change. Occasionally, I’ve worked in jobs where there’s been too much change and everyone just gets unsettled.”

When she’s not overseeing the work of her 190 staff, Mrs Thompson enjoys technology and software, cooking, exercising her two Newfoundland dogs, and relaxing with her family.


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