Losing the Mayoralty of the Thames-Coromandel District Council was perhaps the best piece of fortune for Alasdair Thompson of the Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA).
During the past year, he has taken the EMA into the 21st century with a raft of technology and other initiatives to reverse its declining membership, raise its profile and offer better services and a more focused voice for its members.
In under two years, Alasdair Thompson left small-town Thames politics to become one of business’ big guns, a familiar face on television and a thorn in the current Government’s side.
Always hardworking, Thompson impressed the Computerworld Excellence Awards judges in several key areas, even if his application, convening judge Donna Hiser says, could not be seen as simply an IT project; not involving ground breaking technology and not yet complete.
About two years ago, the EMA Board redefined its mission, strategic vision and principles and values of the association, which has been largely unchanged for 20 years.
Alasdair Thompson became the new CEO and, after a short period of evaluation, he established a clear view of what the organisation needed to do in order to achieve the Board’s objectives and where it could be positioned as a service organisation for the future. Using up to date Information Technology well was a critical part of his vision.
His “superior service strategy” involved measures such as customer relations management, an interactive Web presence, installing an intelligent integrated phone system and merging databases to rapidly speed up the production of reports and accounts.
While the key projects coming out of this vision are still “work in progress”, the judges were impressed with how clearly the vision was understood and supported throughout various levels of the organisation and how clearly the opportunities for the use of information technology are seen.
“Internally, this process is not seen as an IT project but an integrated business process change which is critical for the survival and growth of the organisation. There is clear recognition that both the vision and the strong support for it is due to the leadership from the CEO,” says Hiser.
“The results in terms of increased customer focus, personalisation of information, more rapid and more effective help and the renewed vitality of the EMA were clearly evident. These are all direct results of EMA’s progress towards its vision and have been strongly driven by its CEO, Alasdair Thompson,” she says.
The other finalist was:
- Chantal Dunbar, former general manager of Wilson and Horton Interactive. Her tasks included splitting the division from the 136-year-old company to become a “fully integrated media and communications company”. W& HI is responsible for Internet and e-commerce development, strategy and marketing and revenues for all Wilson and Horton companies. Services include the New Zealand Herald’s news and classifieds Web sites and the Stockwatch online trading system.