Forward into the future: Celebrating 70 years of IMNZ

Since 1946 the New Zealand Institute of Management, now the Institute of Management NZ, has championed the cause of New Zealand leaders and managers: From the days of men, machines and methods to today’s focus on leaders as people who are able to inspire, to create a compelling vision of the future, to motivate, to galvanise, to follow and to lead.

In 1955 the Dominion President of the then NZ Institute of Management, Mr A. Thomas, wrote somewhat poetically of managers: “Those who have the responsibility for controlling the money, men, machines, materials and methods which are the stuff of management.”

Mr A Thomas was writing his Presidential Message in the first ever issue of Management magazine noting that: “The Institute of Management is growing up. One of the healthiest signs of this growth and of the keenness of this organisation of which I have the honour to be president is the introduction of this new journal.” At that time the institute had been going for nine years and the strength of the organisation was also highlighted in that 1955 issue by the President of the Christchurch branch  Mr J.L. Hay. He wrote: “That the journal is sponsored by the NZ Institute of Management is evidence both of the virility of the movement and a guarantee of the quality of its contents. I feel sure that Management will be welcomed by all those desirous of raising the standard of executive leadership in our commercial and industrial undertakings.” 

The institute had been founded right after the Second World War as men returning from the front moved back into the New Zealand workforce. 

Kevin Gaunt, a former NZIM Auckland CEO and then NZIM CEO, says it was started up by New Zealand managers “who realised people were coming back from the Second World War and had missed out on work education, training, and experience”. 

A Wellington newspaper clipping from 1999 profiles Ron Greenwood, then 88, who had just become a Member of New Zealand Order of Merit in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. The newspaper article says Mr Greenwood set up the institute [in Wellington] after seeing that soldiers returning from the Second World War were coming back to menial jobs. Around the same time NZIM had also been set up in Christchurch.

Writing in February 2004, to celebrate Management’s 50th anniversary, the owner and editor of the magazine at the time, Reg Birchfield quoted former NZIM national president, Doug Matheson as saying the institute was formed as a response to understanding the importance of “training for supervisors and managers”.  New Zealand industry realised that managers “need to be trained in the knowledge and skills of management. Employers recognised that good managers make a difference.”

Gaunt says that NZIM’s two main business themes when it launched were membership, for people to make contacts and attend presentations by practising managers, and training – the provision of core management training programmes. Its main clientele has generally been people new to middle management.

“In those days there would have been few organisations providing management training which gave NZIM a good space to fill.”

And over the years, the focus of managers has changed. Gaunt says that between the 1940’s and now there have been a series of key themes for management, which NZIM has been involved in:

  • The 1940’s, 50’s, and early 60’s saw Work Measurement take precedence.
  • In the late 1960’s and through the 70’s it was MBO or Management by Objectives.
  • Then the 1980’s and early 90’s had a focus on Total Quality Management.

He says that the past 20 years have been focused more on leadership.

Even back in February 2004 Birchfield’s anniversary article argued that the criteria for selecting effective executives focused on “their visionary and strategic leadership, people leadership, performance leadership, external relations skills and results and comparative track records”.

Somewhat presciently Doug Matheson says in that 2004 article that  “tomorrow’s” CEOs will need all these competencies  plus a “proven ability to provide leadership to an organisation that does not have a structure, or has a totally flexible structure; that is widely dispersed and where the departments and jobs are boundary-less; where knowledge is the most important asset and resource; where all managers and employees are empowered; where innovation is a core competency and above all is an outward looking organisation.”

We might not quite be there yet in every organisation throughout New Zealand but NZIM (now IMNZ) continues to work to help leaders gain the skills and critical thinking that continues to be vital to organisational success and to their own personal growth. 

Gaunt says that up until about six years ago, NZIM’s structure had been a loose confederation of independent NZIM businesses in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin which also covered Invercargill. Each business had its own board and CEO. There was also an NZIM National Office with its own CEO and board. “The national office owned the NZIM brand and the four regions had signed a Brand Licence Agreement which defined their regions of operation.”

The different organisations went through challenges over the years and just last year NZIM in Auckland and Wellington re-branded as IMNZ, under former CEO Fiona Hewitt who, earlier this year, also brokered the institute’s new strategic partnership with Massey Business School. Steven Naudé who is a director of executive education at Massey Business School, is the new IMNZ CEO bringing the two organisations together in an even closer working relationship. 

Naudé  is working to lead the institute into its next phase of development, which includes the launch of several new courses in 2017 and “creating simpler and faster pathways for people to achieve higher-level qualifications”.

“IMNZ has some very exciting plans for 2017, which will provide additional flexibility and benefits to both students and organisations looking to build the capability of staff,” Naudé says. 

The university and IMNZ now jointly offer New Zealand’s most comprehensive suite of courses in leadership and management education.

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