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Hodgson: Importance of Management and Leadership

Hon Pete Hodgson
Minister for Economic Development

3 June 2008 Speech
The Importance of Management and Leadership Skills
Embargoed to 6.45pm
Speech at the launch of the Management Focus initiative and Plato Learning network pilot at the University of Auckland Business School, Auckland.

Public and Private Sector Partnership

Thank you for the opportunity to speak at the launch of these two unique and complementary management development initiatives.

I speak often of reducing “product clutter” in government. So, let me first thank the organisers of this celebration for reducing “reception clutter” by bringing together the launch of both Management Focus and PLATO this evening.

Each of these initiatives makes important contributions towards further developing the stock and capability of New Zealand’s business managers.

I would first like to acknowledge the work of the Business Capability Partnership in launching Management Focus and the efforts of Export Year 2007 participants for bringing PLATO to New Zealand.

The power of both these initiatives comes from a collaborative approach employed by participating public and private sector organisations. From inception to implementation, these partners work together to provide innovative solutions to real business issues.

Tertiary Reforms

I am delighted to help launch these initiatives in this exceptional new facility.

The University of Auckland and its key strategic partners have brought their vision for a world class business school to life.

This impressive facility represents the power of having a great vision and inspiring a whole community to achieve results.

My congratulations go to University of Auckland Vice Chancellor, Dr. Stuart McCutcheon, and to your colleagues in the Business School, for this great success.

Through the recent tertiary education reforms, universities and polytechnics have accepted and built on the challenge from Government to develop their unique strengths and to work more closely within their communities. Tertiary’s ability to meet the needs of business, especially in the area of skills development, is an important contribution to this challenge. Building strong partnerships here will truly have a transformational impact on our nation’s economy.

Management Capability - why does it matter?

Tonight’s programme has a specific focus on building management capability in New Zealand.

Mastering the demands of a global marketplace is essential to our future economic prosperity. Doing so is reliant on strong leadership and effective workplace practices.

Many of you here tonight are working to develop innovative products, services, and management systems to help firms become more internationally competitive. Well done.

But, of course, we are all aware of the need to do more.

A key strategy is to develop a greater stock of New Zealand managers who are strategic in their thinking, who seek to continuously develop themselves and the people they lead, and who seek out and respond to new business opportunities, particularly those arising in international markets.

The recent release of the New Zealand Skills Strategy document for consultation has demonstrated this is an area where government, business, and the wider community can work closely together to make a positive difference.

Indeed, the “Building Firm Capability” work strand of the skills strategy is being lead by Business New Zealand Chief Executive, Phil O’Reilly, with direct involvement from many public and private organisations.

This work has focused on developing management capability through more effective partnership. It has a strong emphasis on leveraging the talent and resources found in our tertiary organisations, industry training organisations, and private sector providers.

The result is a focussed, co-ordinated and joined up effort to helping New Zealand firms improve their management capability.

PLATO and Management Focus

This all brings me to the point of tonight’s festivities—recognising and celebrating PLATO and Management Focus. I don’t wish to steal the thunder from our next two speakers who will share more, but I would like to say a few words about each project.


I am pleased to know that business owners of small to medium sized firms will have the chance to hone their management skills by working with mentors from large organisations through the Auckland PLATO pilot project. This is a unique business networking model and another example of effective public-private cooperation.

Thank you to PLATO’s steering committee members, AucklandPlus, WHK Gosling Chapman, and the Ministry of Economic Development for your leadership of this project. Thanks also to the corporate organisations who have volunteered their time and talents to mentor the SME participants.

And a special thanks to Paul Gordon, chair of the PLATO steering committee. I understand you were a PLATO participant while working in the United Kingdom. I look forward to hearing from you shortly.

Management Focus

The second key project is Management Focus. Last November, representatives from a number of organisations, many of whom are in the room tonight, met and agreed where the focus needed to be to develop management capability. The partner organisations of Management Focus have taken up this challenge and developed an exciting programme of activities for 2008. Bevan Graham will elaborate on this later.

We are already seeing results from Management Focus.

I am delighted to announce that the Management Focus Fund, developed to support the themes and objectives of Management Focus, has supported three exciting projects in its first round. There will be a second call for applications made in July.

I would also like to acknowledge the work of the organisations that have been instrumental in implementing Management Focus.

New Zealand Institute of Management, Employers and Manufacturers Association, Economic Development Association of New Zealand, New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants, Business New Zealand, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and the Ministry of Economic Development.

I would like to thank you for taking up opportunities to work in new and innovating ways, together.


Skilled and proficient managers are essential to drive forward the engine of economic growth. Working together to up skill and boost New Zealand's pool of capable and visionary managers is incumbent upon us all. It is together, public and private, that we will demonstrate the leadership we aspire to see in our managerial workforce. Thank you.


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