UniServices Farewells Outstanding CEO
For Immediate Release
UniServices Farewells Outstanding CEO
AUCKLAND, 4 NOV, 2004: Dr John Kernohan, Chief Executive Officer of Auckland UniServices Limited has announced his retirement after 16 years at the helm of the company during which time it has grown from a small business office of The University of Auckland to become the single largest organisation commercialising university research in Australasia.
Confirming Dr Kernohan’s retirement, Peter Menzies, UniServices Chairman, said his achievement as CEO had been extraordinary and exceeded all expectations at the time the company, which is wholly-owned by the University, was founded.
“In 1988, when John became UniServices’ founding CEO, it was a small operation called the Applied Research Office operating out of the Engineering School and earning annual revenues of $1.3 million. In the latest financial year those revenues had climbed to $62.5 million. Over this time UniServices has also become a very important contributor to the total income of the University, supporting research across all Faculties and playing a central role in the development of New Zealand’s knowledge-based economy.
“When John started there were very few organisations anywhere in the world focused on this activity. He has had to create his own road map and has built a new culture that successfully brings together the previously separate interests of academic and business communities. I think it has been a real achievement that he has done this in a way that respects the values of both. This has expanded the opportunity to conduct new research and created new wealth for the community through the huge amount of contract and other research UniServices now undertakes for New Zealand organisations.”
Formed to commercialise research at the University, over the past 16 years UniServices has recorded numerous major successes, including managing a $30 million multinational clinical trial on a stroke drug, the flotation of new biotech companies, the development of potential cancer treatments now in clinical trials and a wide range of health care, engineering and educational products profitably licensed to global organisations. “John has done an absolutely outstanding job,” said Professor Ray Meyer, Deputy Chairman, a member of the UniServices Board who was involved in founding the company. “He has got quite an unusual ability to see opportunities and to close deals. John has been extremely insightful in seeing new areas of opportunity, targeting the health and biotech sectors back when commercial research tended to focus on engineering consultancy. Since then he has led UniServices into further highly successful new areas of activity based on social science research and on developing new opportunities for providing world-standard educational tools and software systems.
“The contribution to the University’s research capability has been even more important than the superb financial performance of UniServices, however. John saw really clearly that the vision was about building up the research of the University, it wasn’t simply about the bottom line, and accordingly nearly all surplus revenues are re-invested in the University’s capability.”
UniServices currently employs over 500 staff, in addition to University researchers that it works with on projects. It accounts for 57% of the University’s external research revenues and for 12.6 % of total University income.
Saying his retirement was something he had long planned, Dr Kernohan noted, “When I started at UniServices I came to stay for five years, and ended up being here for over 16.
“It has been a very positive experience. I have taken huge satisfaction from the contribution we have been able to make and have always very much enjoyed and valued the support of staff, the University’s senior researchers, who are world-class, and the University administration - who have all made the success of UniServices possible. As a result of this work I am confident UniServices is well-placed for continued success. “
Prior to joining UniServices, Dr Kernohan was engaged in R&D management for General Electric in the United States for seven years, focusing on commercialising new technology and was CEO of several businesses over 14 years for ICI New Zealand Ltd (now Orica Ltd.).
In September 2003 he was the recipient of a Vice Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Contribution to the University of Auckland.
“This award reflected the very high regard in which John is held by the University”, said the Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor Raewyn Dalziel. “He has assisted academics from all Faculties to take advantage of research opportunities with business, industry and government, allowing our research activities to expand to the extent that the University is now a major contributor to national innovation and development.”
Dr Kernohan will retire as CEO on 17 January but will stay on full time for a further month to ensure a smooth handover. Beyond that he will continue as a consultant to UniServices for a further six months, Mr Menzies said. The Board have appointed a new CEO and will be publicly confirming this appointment shortly.