The Newcastle biscuit factory had long since been abandoned. A large multinational corporation (MNC) had taken ownership of it and was converting it into a refrigerated warehouse. Its location in an industrial area, close to shipping and rail services and the main highway, was ideal.
A local company was sought to convert the factory to a warehouse. The Hard Comack Company had won the contract and the conversion of the plant was nearing completion. Some employees had been laid off from the site and others moved on to other projects. As the completion date neared, MNC realised the interior of the warehouse needed painting.
To clean and paint the warehouse would take no more than three weeks, and Hard Comack would not hire more full-time staff for such a short job. MNC decided to subcontract temporary workers to do it, and 20 university students were hired. They did not become members of the construction union.
The students were under the direction of Peter Kinley, who had worked for Hard Comack since he left school more than 25 years ago. Kinley told the students about the tasks involved in this monotonous job. They wer
Stephen Blanch, 55, has been managing director of Eastern Energy since it split from the former State Electricity Commission of Victoria almost four years ago. Before joining Eastern Energy, he spent two years as the director of business development for Mission Energy Australia and four years as the managing director of a construction company in New Zealand, following a 30-year career with the SECV. In 1963 he obtained a diploma of electrical engineering, followed by a bachelor of electrical engineering, then a master of engineering science in 1973.
AIM: Did you decide to become a manager or did it just happen?
Blanch: I was a technical expert for the first four or five years, then I was given a small team to lead and it went from there. I never set myself the target of becoming the managing director of anything, I just did the best I possibly could.
AIM: Did you consider other career possibilities?
Blanch: I considered teaching, which I used to do part-time. I was offered the job senior lecturer in engineering the best thing I ever did was turn it down. Two years later I was offered the principal lecturer̵
Betty Byrne Henderson had relatively little experience in the automotive industry when she took over as governing director of the Byrne Group car dealership after the death of her husband in 1977. The group is now one of Queensland’s largest businesses and in 1995 it received the prestigious President’s Award from Ford Australia. Byrne Henderson recently sold the business to her son and holds seven directorships, including the Queensland Harness Racing Board and the Corrective Services Commission. She says there will be casualties as these organisations are transformed to run along private-sector lines.
AIM: Can management be taught or does it need to be learned on the job?
Byrne Henderson: You need the theoretical and the practical side to do it properly. A lot of it does come instinctively. There is a big difference between being managing director and just being into management – as governing director the importance was to have good management lines underneath me. The managing directors are there to put the plan in place to enable management to do their jobs properly and that comes instinctively. Theory i
As management gurus spread the word on their new Tower of Babel, they may find that no one is listening. By David James
A truism of history is that civilisations are most at peril at their apogee; that success contains within it the seed of failure. Something similar may be true of management. At the point at which it has become the coinage of global corporate power and a key to wealth and influence, it may be starting to decline in importance.
The word “management” (from the Latin manere) initially referred to holding the reins of a horse. Only since the Industrial Revolution has it commonly been used to mean guiding an organisation. Lex Donaldson, professor of management at the Australian Graduate School of Management, says the modern management role first appeared in the late 19th century in the United States railway system.
In a little more than a century, the role of management has been adopted in organisations across the world, to the point where it is considered an essential part of work. Management thinker Peter Drucker, the first professor of management and still its most accessible proponent, nom
In 1990, Samuel McNeil was appointed Marketing Manager at ATC, a large Australian-owned organisation with an office in Wellington. The company was engaged in a wide range of diversified activities and had more than 600 employees throughout New Zealand. McNeil felt confident that he would be able to greatly improve the company’s marketing. He was also hoping to change the company’s orientation away from products and towards customer service.
McNeil’s first assignment was the development of a local and overseas marketing program. His two assistants, David McQueen and Steve Harrison, who were experienced in production and sales but had little experience in marketing. McNeil experienced some resentment from managers in other departments and their staffs. However, he believed that his background and position had nothing to do with it and that any newcomer to the company would be similarly resented.
McNeil soon realised that there was no organised training for the marketing department. Although most staff had qualifications in marketing, none were fully marketing oriented. All the emphasis was placed on productio
Jim Gill, 51, has been managing director of the Water Corporation of Western Australia since 1995. Before joining the Water Corporation, he spent seven years as chief executive officer of Westrail, and prior to that he held senior engineering and management positions in the highway field. In 1968 he graduated with a first-class honors degree in engineering from the University of Western Australia. He gained his PhD from Cambridge in advanced computer-aided design and in 1983 completed a Master in Public Administration at Harvard.
AIM: You have a distinguished background in engineering. Do you regard yourself as an engineer or a manager?
Gill: A manager. But in my position it is extremely useful to have worked as an engineer because you get a certain instinct about things. My career as a manager did not just happen. It was a decision I made when I was 22. I did a PhD in Britain and when I started I decided I wanted to go into administration. I followed this with a Master in Public Administration at Harvard. Had I stayed in the engineering field, I would probably have followed a career as a structural engineer in the design fi
Businesses are fishing with a new line and are finding that at every level there are advantages to being caught in the nineties net. By Lucinda Schmidt
That 1980s buzzword, networking, is back. This time around, however, it means more than an occasional breakfast or lunch. The business world is increasingly made up of networks, ranging from e-mail links to the internal trade between divisions of multinational companies. Managers who ignore the networking of the 1990s risk being left behind by the revolution.
According to the McKinsey Quarterly, the world economy is in the early stages of a profound change, comparable to the effect of the Industrial Revolution on methods of production and distribution. That change is the rise of networking, which McKinsey calls “interactions” (other names include “supply-chain management” and “business linkages”). It says: “As in all major economic shifts, the successful innovators will be those who develop the best understanding of the underlying change and act upon it. Success in the next five to 10 years will require a deep understanding of the pow
Since 1991, you have been the chief executive officer of Specialty Components Ltd (SCL), a very successful company. The company has developed a strong market position in the development, manufacturing and sale of specialty components for the electronics industry, growing rapidly on account of a good reputation in technical and after-sales service.
Rapid growth has meant that human-resources systems have lagged behind. Human-resources matters are handled by the administration and finance manager. Employees are subject to a confidentiality agreement. There have been cases of appointments being made on the grounds of technical skills without serious consideration of the person’s ability to fit into the existing team. In general, SCL’s work environment is one that supports teamwork and trust. Morale is good.
The recruitment policy is first to seek appointments from within the company at all levels below senior management. Michael Bray was externally recruited and appointed as manager of sales and marketing three months ago. He replaced Peter Brook who was paid out in a negotiated settlement in acrimonious circumstanc
Dr Daniel Norton is chief executive officer of the Hydro Electric Corporation of Tasmania. Before that he was secretary of the Tasmanian Department of Premier and Cabinet, deputy secretary of the Tasmanian Department of Treasury, and senior manager of corporate affairs at the Australian Wheat Board. He holds a PhD in economics and business from North Carolina State University.
AIM: You have managed Tasmania’s largest business since May 1996. What are the greatest challenges?
Norton: The challenge is to keep my eye on the ball, with 1700 employees, at the same time as being involved in determining how a part privatisation may occur. We have made major progress in reducing expenses, which are down by 4% every year for the past four years. In the past three years we have averaged $100 million in capital expenditure from internal funds, and we have significantly increased after-tax profit and paid back $250 million in debt. Hydro assets are long-term assets, built up over many years through debt financing: the corporation has $1.43 billion of debt and $500 million in annual revenue.
AIM: What are the long-term impli
There’s an old joke about a young bull and an old bull. Recruiters on the horns of a dilemma are not laughing. By Crispin Wood
My role is to give the team a point of view – Felipe Cortes
Youth versus experience – the age-old debate is taking on a new piquancy in management circles. The managers coming up through the ranks are better educated than many of their predecessors. They are well grounded in management theory and generic management techniques, but does that make them a proper replacement for more mature managers?
In the age of empowerment the old-style hierarchies – influenced by a generation in which many managers had been through military training – are inappropriate. Studies have shown younger managers to be more flexible, more consultative and grounded in consensus-style decision making rather than top-down decisions. The type of manager that directs and controls is no longer required. Such people are being replaced by “doers” those who are team players.
Unfortunately for the drill-sergeant types, this means youth. Careers are now multi-disciplined. As companies adopt more horizontal management str