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Speech To 2000 Management Development Centre

Minister Of State Services
Trevor Mallard
Speech To Presentation of 2000 Management Development Centre Fellowships

Mr Hutton, thank you for your Board’s invitation to present the two Management Development Centre Fellowship awards. I’m pleased to be here to do that because, as Minister of State Services, I have a particular interest in the capability of the Public Service and, therefore, in the development of the Service’s senior managers.

These Fellowships add a special and significant opportunity for managers in the public service to visit world-class institutions where they can study and think about challenges and responses to local and global issues in public management. And then, back in New Zealand, we can expect those learnings and experiences to contribute to changes that will benefit organisational performance.

Before presenting the awards I’d like to make some quick points.

First - management is an important part of capability.

At the heart of Public Service capability – sometimes defined as its capacity to be able to deliver the Government’s objectives for the benefit of New Zealanders – is the capability of the people who staff and lead the departments and ministries.

We all know Public Service managers who have the intellectual ability, the practical management skills, the vision and the drive to make their organisations ever more effective in meeting the needs of New Zealand citizens.

And we all know that we need to develop more of these managers – after all, that is the reason that brings us here today.

Secondly - this Government is going to pay more attention to the capability of the Public Service.

This isn’t news to you – I’ve been saying this publicly for some time. Strong Public Service leadership is essential to help us deliver what New Zealanders elected us to deliver. This Government will be active in managing the ownership interest in the Public Service and the matter of senior management development is an important part of that.

Michael Wintringham and I have been discussing the question of How do we secure access to people with the right skills and experience?

The short answer is that there are not dozens of highly talented private sector people knocking at the door. The reasons for this are complex. Money is part of it. But even more important is the fishbowl existence that chief executives work in. This Government is very concerned that chief executives who are performing well have been left to hang in the face of political attacks or worse still, have engaged politically with Opposition politicians. I am sure that the lack of willingness of previous Ministers to front up to Mr Hide, for example, must reduce the field of people willing to apply for the Revenue Commissioner's jobs.

That approach has changed. Ministers in the new Government will stand up for Chief Executives when they are under attack for implementing Government policy.

There was a good example of that in the House today when Dr Cullen explained that threats to IRD staff by a gang leader had at least been supported by Mr Hide's approach. The previous Government was reluctant to take a stand on these issues.

In order to provide effective leadership in their organisations, managers must continue to develop their own capability. They need to stay in touch with new ideas and best practice, both locally and internationally, not so that we can simply copy the latest fad from abroad, but so we can learn from others’ efforts, and adapt their ideas for use in New Zealand.

But we can’t leave the whole responsibility to individual managers. We must not only agree that managers should have opportunities for wide and varied experiences, but we must also enable them to have access to those opportunities.

Many of our managers have benefited from the advice and assistance given by people present in this room. Chief Executives and senior colleagues have a powerful role to play, as does the Management Development Centre. Its Fellowship awards each provide a grant of about $40,000 for the study of new ideas and practices, as well as the generation of new contacts, in a country of the Fellow’s choice.

The Year 2000 Management Development Centre fellows are Elizabeth Eppel and Sharon Brownlie.

Elizabeth Eppel is a Group Manager in the Ministry of Education. Sharon Brownlie is a Regional Commissioner for Northland in the Department of Work and Income and is currently acting general manager for audit and risk. Both have chosen to use their award to attend the Stanford Graduate School of Business Executive Education to study Negotiation and Influence Strategies. Sharon will also do a short course at Harvard.

As well, both will travel to the University of Oxford to participate in the Strategic Leadership Programme at Templeton College.

I’m sure that we all will be interested in the knowledge and insights which Elizabeth and Sharon will bring back with them.

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