Toronto man dumps snow for Taranaki surf

Canadian Brian Greensides' decision to depart the hustle and bustle of metropolitan Toronto for the provincial lifestyle of New Plymouth doesn't mean he has left behind all of his professional and personal challenges.

Canadian Brian Greensides’ decision to depart the hustle and bustle of metropolitan Toronto (population 2.5 million) for the provincial lifestyle of New Plymouth (population 50,000) doesn’t mean he has left behind all of his professional and personal challenges.

The district council’s recently appointed IT manager is busy coping with a new country and a council that’s feet-deep in several IT projects.

A major part of the 46-year-old’s role will be working on the council’s Customer First strategy, headed by Guy Bodger, which involves using IT to improve the delivery of services to the district’s 70,000 residents.

Customer First includes offering e-commerce services, perhaps encompassing rating and licensing online, plus upgrading the council call centre.

Already the project has seen the introduction before Christmas of map-TV, an interface that lets ratepayers view property information online.

New Plymouth District Council is developing new websites for the city art gallery and museum, and changing its overall portal to Microsoft content management technology — moves which allow the “owners” of individual parts of the website to make their own changes instead of waiting for the IS department to update the site.

Greensides is working on a strategic plan for the delivery of information services.

“The plan will look at how we will develop our e-business focus and provide a customer and property view of our data to our customers and staff; so when you look at a customer or property, you have a single view of that customer or property.”

The specifics of Customer First have yet to be decided and the project is intended be implemented over several years.

While Greensides has worked in IT all his working life, the married father-of-two’s previous roles were as IT manager for a Toronto insurance company for 13 years and, before that, IS manager for Hallmark Cards in the metropolis.

Greensides is a committed house-exchanger, regularly swapping homes with people overseas. A holiday to Whangamata in the Coromandel several years ago led him and his wife to decide they wanted to leave Canada’s cold winters (-13°C last week) and emigrate to New Zealand. They say they like the country’s beauty, the friendly people and more relaxed lifestyle.

“For the first time in my life I am able to walk to work. It takes a matter of minutes, whereas in the past it took an hour’s commuting.”

The immigration process, including residency approval, took 18 months, with Greensides first arriving in Auckland in September. He had expected to end up working in Auckland or Wellington, as those cities contain most of New Zealand’s IT jobs, but is pleased to be in New Plymouth to “get away from the hustle and bustle”.

“The lifestyle [in the town] is just what I needed,” he says.

Greensides says foreigners face “challenges” in coming to New Zealand, such as the cost, and time it takes for immigration approval, but believes it is worth it in the end. The process gives people time to ensure that leaving their home country is what they really want to do, and helps ensure that new immigrants are productive citizens, he says.

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