CAREER MANAGEMENT : My World – From where I’m sitting

Year 13 student, Onehunga High Business School programme, Auckland

How do the executives of tomorrow view the management role? The effervescent and energetic Nina Dillon leapt at the chance to join Onehunga High Business School (OHBS) when it opened in her fourth form year, and she’s relishing the management challenges it has brought.
“My father is in sales and I’ve always been interested [in business],” she says. “I took this just as soon as I could.”
Year 13 students in the school study for the OHBS Certificate in Business and Entrepreneurship, which includes compulsory core paper in entrepreneurship – starting and running business, as well as electives that range from the global economy to strategic financial management.
While she’s enjoyed the diversity and exposure to range of business disciplines, it’s the marketing and management papers that have appealed most. And she admits her attitude to management roles has changed.
“Previously I thought of manager as sort of ‘sub leader’ that didn’t really do much,” she laughs. “I always assumed there was someone above the managers, but now we see how much managers really do… they’re not in the background [at all], they’re right there at the front. And I like it because they are involved in everything.”
Asked what skills and personality traits people need to be successful managers, Dillon singles out leadership skills.
“Obviously. Plus you need to be able to motivate people. People work way better when they’re happy in their job. You have to be people person, and you have to be organised because if you’re not, your group’s not going to be organised. And you have to be able to see the whole picture, because you have to be able to set objectives and get the resources to achieve them.”
Dillon believes both academic theory and on-the-job practice are necessary to learn management skills.
“There’s just so much you can learn in the classroom but once they throw you out there, it’s experience that will get you through.
“We take the learning that you get in class and put it into action. There are heaps of opportunities – like in the fifth and sixth forms you can create your own business idea and put that into action. Our group tried to do fashion show, and even though we didn’t get to finish it we still had to go through the whole process, so it was really good learning curve.”
She puts her management theory into practice not just in business school projects and classroom activities but also in her life as senior student.
“I’m on the prefects’ committee and that’s all about taking different roles and managing [groups]… like on the ball committee each of the prefects was leader of different group. You know what you have to do, you can’t just leave it to them. And make sure the job gets done because if it doesn’t, it’s your fault.”
So where will all this take Nina Dillon? While her ultimate goal is “to become as rich as Donald Trump”, she dreams of one day managing either top hotel or “really awesome cocktail bar”. In the meantime she’s looking forward to starting conjoint degree at Auckland University next year where she hopes to combine B Comm in business studies with psychology.

Customer services supervisor, Rodney District Council, Orewa

She started her career in bank, moving up the promotion ladder to accountant supervisor before taking time out to raise family. Now Joanne Mackie heads up the Rodney District Council’s seven-strong customer services team, with her sights on management role in the future.
The council covers widespread area and has presided over massive development in recent years. By 2016 Rodney expects to be home to 102,000 people – 30,000 more than at present – and with growth come pressures. Working in the rates area of the council, Mackie and her team often find themselves in the hot seat when ratepayers call, and she respects their concerns.
“We’re pretty much all ratepayers ourselves and we all want value for money.”
It’s role that demands organisation and good people management skills.
“I supervise seven staff, ensuring that they give good customer service, that they meet their deadlines and that they prioritise their work. Plus I have my own work to do,” says Mackie.
She’s always had her eye on management role. “My ultimate goal [at the bank] was to be the manager of branch but then I left and had family. I joined the Rodney District Council 10 years ago and have been in supervisory role now for seven years.”
At this level in district council the line between manager and supervisor is somewhat less distinct than in private enterprise, so what is it that appeals about the management role?
“I like having staff and helping them to achieve their [own] goals as well as making sure they perform their roles to high standard, and I like identifying performance issues and where processes can be improved… that’s something I’m working on at the moment.”
Mackie agrees one of the most important attributes of manager is the ability to relate to people.
“Mentoring and communication… and being able to handle the stress that comes with the job. There’s no doubt about it, stress does come with the job when you get up to the senior staff and management level.
“Not every manager has staff – and some managers who do have staff don’t actually know how to be staff manager. You need to know how to delegate because of workloads and pressures, and lot of people are not good at that. And you’ve got to make sure you’ve set your priorities as to what’s important and what’s not and work through those.
“My biggest bug bear is communications. There’s not enough of it, and it needs to be clear and precise. So often emails aren’t the right communications tool.”
While Mackie has completed several New Zealand Institute of Management courses, she believes many management skills can be acquired on the job, complemented by courses or support from mentor.
Looking ahead, she believes that management roles in the future will be very computer based, with fewer people to manage and more emphasis on technology. But whether that puts more emphasis on managing fewer people better, Mackie says she still believes it’s matter of having the personality to manage people.
“You do have to have some sort of personality, and you do have to want to care about your staff as well.
“My advice for anyone starting out? You need to be good communicator, make sure you can handle stress and make sure you can manage work flows.”

Associate director, Deloitte Corporate Finance, Wellington

A chartered accountancy (CA) firm is world removed from the conventional private sector line manager’s environment and as Linda Meade of Deloitte Corporate Finance points out, her role is more one of project management coupled with an advisory staff management role.
“The way that CA firms work is that you have pool of analysts and the partners manage clients and assign analysts to their various clients. An analyst keeps those clients over time, but might be working through [team] manager for different partners on different jobs.”
Meade is not convinced that, in general terms, the partnership model is an ideal management structure, pointing to the potential conflict between ownership and management decision making.
“Partners are the owners of the business so are ultimately concerned with profit. At the same time they are expected to make good decisions about the way staff are managed and the business is run.”
Since graduating and joining what was then Coopers & Lybrand in 1992, she has had two periods working overseas, with two-year spell on transfer in Geneva and later, two and half years in London. On her return to New Zealand four years ago she joined Deloitte.
However the differences she observed in the overseas firms were largely functions of scale and culture, rather than management practice.
On day-to-day basis Meade says she has stro

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