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Auldhouse: Leaving Gen-i makes us nimble

Auldhouse managing director Melanie Hobcraft says the newly independent training company has an opportunity to become more nimble and innovative.

Hobcraft was speaking the day after a management buyout which saw her along with fellow executives Leigh Richardson and Craig Jones take control of the business.

She describes the move as "coming full circle". Originally private, Auldhouse was acquired by Eric Watson then sold to Telecom NZ more than a decade ago along with Gen-i. Since then it has been part of Telecom NZ's Gen-i division.

Part of Telecom NZ, but seperate


Hobcraft says she and her partners had wanted to buy the business for some time, but the unit's profitability made it too valuable for Gen-i and Telecom NZ to let it go. That sentiment altered a year ago when the parent company changed direction following the Chorus demerger.

In recent months Gen-i has been through major change. It sold a number of business units that are not central to the company's new mission and acquired data centre specialist Revera.

Despite its value, Auldhouse was always kept at arms length from the parent business. The company maintained its own buildings and branding along with a degree of independence. Hobcraft says that was in part because Auldhouse needed distance from Gen-i as it worked with a number of the company's competitors.

Still partners


Hobcraft says Auldhouse will continue to have a close relationship with Telecom NZ and Gen-i after the buyout. She says: "Telecom and Gen-i signed a preferential supplier agreement with us which means we will continue to do a lot of business together".

Away from Telecom NZ, Auldhouse has relationships with important industry players including Microsoft, VMWare, Citrix, RedHat and SAP.

The buyout positions Auldhouse as New Zealand's largest privately-owned training business. And that places it in an interesting position to form partnerships and relationships across the industry.

Although the technology companies prefer not to have exclusive relationships with training companies, New Zealand's small size means there's not a big enough cake to cut many slices. So often Auldhouse gets to handle a company's NZ training needs.

Auldhouse plays at the big end of town


Auldhouse remains the main training partner for many of New Zealand’s major government organisations and  corporations. Hobcraft says the private company plans to stay with that market. Yet at the same time she says the private structure means there are just three decision makers to worry about and that will make for a more nimble, innovative operation than in the past.

One area that's likely to see changes is in providing training services outside New Zealand. Telecom NZ was and still is mainly focused on activity at home. Hobcraft says there are opportunities to take the company's IP to Asia where there's a huge thirst for the kind of training services the company can provide. She says that move is likely to involve a partner.

©digitl nz 2013

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