INBOX : Young executive walking the talk

Migrants and refugees have the impressive leadership strategies of Claire Szabó to thank for the smooth running of the not-for-profit organisation English Language Partners.
Her skills as CEO running and restructuring the organisation have won Szabó the NZ Institute of Management’s Young Executive of the Year award for the Central Region.
English Language Partners is New Zealand’s largest organisation working with migrants and refugees. It works with 8000 migrants and refugees in 23 locations throughout the country.
“I inherited an organisation that was unsatisfied with its remuneration regime,” says Szabó, 32. “Funds dispersed by national office to members for the organising and delivery of services were seen as inequitable and out of step with the market. Working with senior managers, I implemented programme of change regarding salary funding for members.” Titles also changed to reflect the contributions of individuals.
In 2008, she also negotiated new $1.12 million annual fund with the Tertiary Education Commission to purchase programme for 690 employees needing small group or one-to-one language support.
The streamlined organisation also rebranded. “When I became CEO, the national organisation and its 22 member organisations were called ESOL Home Tutors (English for Speakers of Other Languages). This stemmed from proud history of delivering home tutoring, but did not reflect the organisation’s range of programmes or future potential.”
The name had an effect on the identity of the organisation, both internally and externally, she says.
Hard on the heels of agreeing on an enduring and common identity, she led the organisation into year of strategic reviewing and planning, for its first-ever organisational review.
“After consultation on the plan, it was finalised, adopted unanimously at our May AGM, and launched to much fanfare. This means cake in our organisation.”
The Young Executive of the Year award recognises leaders, innovators, team builders and high achievers aged 35 and under for making positive impact on the growth, productivity, and morale of their organisation.
“It’s an enormous privilege to get this award – and huge recognition,” says Szabó. “I’ve spent little time with the regional finalists and they’re fantastic people, very skilled, from diverse backgrounds.”
Szabó says her next steps for the organisation are focused on advancing partnerships with migrants and refugees. “We need to get the system right for refugees. This means effective collaboration across the sector. The system also needs to be set up for temporary migrants who are already on legitimate pathway to residency.”

• The overall winner of the NZIM/Eagle Technology Young Executive of the Year award will be announced at the Deloitte/Management Top 200 Awards at SkyCity, Auckland on Thursday December 2.

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