INTOUCH : Obituary – Ron Greenwood

An executive should “realise the social significance of what he is doing”, said Ron Greenwood, not recently, but back in 1944 when he was establishing the New Zealand Industrial Institute of Management, which in 1951 dropped the word “industrial” from its title.
The founding father of NZIM, Ron Greenwood, died recently in Wellington, the city in which he always lived, aged 96.
The quietly spoken innovator and motivator established NZIM because he could see that management was burgeoning and vitally important community that would lead the country’s recovery from war-based economy.
On 19 April 1944 he galvanised 300 representatives from industrial businesses, technical colleges, government departments and unions to meet in Wellington and agree to breathe life and form into his idea of an NZIM. His foresight is exemplified in his phrase acknowledging the social significance of what managers were going to do in the future.
“Unless we do this job and get it going, returning servicemen – many of whom have learned leadership overseas and who have the capacity to become the best types of foremen – are going to be at disadvantage because they have nothing in industry by which to reorientate themselves,” he told local journalist.
New Zealand, said Greenwood, was entering new era in which leadership and industry required people to have not only natural aptitude for leadership, but also specific training in the principles of business and scientific industrial management. And so NZIM was effectively kicked into life.
Greenwood was doer and visionary man. He established the New Zealand division of the Institute of Directors. He was founder of the National Safety Association of New Zealand and of the Parkinson Society. His love of tramping and mountaineering led him to establish the RD&EA Greenwood Environment Trust to provide annual grants to protect nature and the environment.

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