IT veteran takes on Candle project

After 30 years of project management, Mike Hogg has entered the IT recruitment industry, as general manager of Candle New Zealand.

After 30 years of project management, from handling the Auckland Commonwealth Games, to introducing EFTPOS to Woolworths Australia and Foodtown New Zealand, Mike Hogg has entered the IT recruitment industry, as general manager of Candle New Zealand.

Hogg also helped expand consultanting company Simpl Group from four staff to 140, leaving as operations chief operating. But he wanted a change and is now “re-engineering” Candle and looking at its operations from a fresh angle.

As a project manager, he has skills in "questioning every process and seeing how things can be done better". And from the "other side" of the recruitment desk, he has employed "hundreds" of people so knows what employers want.

Hogg says the recruitment market is tough and looks at it as fighting a battle; he jokes about "nuking" the opposition.

“I enjoy the competition. I am a natural hunter. I enjoy the chase and I enjoy winning,” he says.

His career has had many successes.

UK-born Hogg left London’s East End with his parents for South Africa but boycotts in the 70s meant the only way for a computer professional to progress was back in the UK.

However, “I could not abide the weather,” he says, so after a year, he went to Australia. It was 1981 and he became the project manager introducing EFTPOS terminals to 200 Woolworths stores.

He was then poached by ICL New Zealand to do the same at Foodtown, working opposite Phil Brimacombe, now IT chief of Middlemore Hospital.

When Hogg’s boss at ICL resigned, the Londoner was put in charge of seven project managers, before being headhunted again, to project manage the Auckland Commonwealth Games.

“There was a very fine line between success and failure,” he says.

Much of the technology in the games was untried or was being integrated for the first time. Some of it could not even be tested properly as, for example, you could only close Auckland’s southern motorway once, for the main bike race.

Contracting for Eagle Technology followed, putting in defence systems for the army, airforce and the dockyards.

Then, in the early 90s, Hogg was headhunted back to ICL to manage the Auckland Health Board patient administration systems, for all the city’s main hospitals.

“It was a big bloody system that has only recently been replaced.”

Hogg went back to the Simpl Group as a project manager, working on a Power New Zealand project. The Australian software had many faults but was dumped in favour of a local product.

Now, at Candle, Hogg says he has speeded up the introduction of a new client database management system, has boosted training, and is increasing staff.

Hogg believes in empowering staff to manage themselves as much as possible.

“There’s a bloody good team here and I have to do very little in terms of getting them going,” he says.

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