Opinion: Paddy O’Brien for ILT

Sep 18, 2019
1344 Views

The local body elections are upon us again, and the past three years have certainly gone fast. I am just coming to the end of my first term on the Board at the ILT, a position I have found stimulating, exciting, and, at times challenging.

These three years have been extremely rewarding. I have been able to listen, learn and contribute to a multimillion-dollar business which has a major influence on many groups and people in our wonderful city.

The fact that 11 people have put their names forward is very encouraging. All 11 bring their own personal attributes and, dare I say, fallibilities but all have put their names forward because they care. The current six Board members have all decided to stand again and it can only be healthy that others challenge them for their positions. Being a Board member is not an entitlement to be there for life; it is only proper that every three years the public have the opportunity to review whether or not all, some, or none of the current board are the right people to continue in that position.

Have some being there too long? Have the new ones not lived up to your expectations? Are some not performing the way you the public want them to perform? Are some of those standing who are not currently on the board a better fit for today’s ever-changing world? The wonderful thing about living in a democracy is that the answer to these questions is in your hands the voter. Please consider carefully the type of person you want representing you and vote accordingly.

The first three-year term for me was an opportunity to get to know the staff, learn about the industry and also to get a far better understanding of the wants and needs of our wonderful community. I put all my efforts into investing my time and familiarising myself with every application that comes to the ILT for funding. I’ve educated myself on how to adapt to the constantly evolving liquor and hospitality industry. But most importantly, I’ve done my utmost to listen and understand what you, the public, expect and want from your investment in the ILT.

I am seeking re-election based on three strengths I believe I bring to the table.

Commitment. When I decide to do something, I don’t do things in half measures. This can be seen in my success on the world sporting stage, firstly as an international rugby referee and during the past 12 years as a successful teams’ manager. Voters can be assured I take my role on the board very seriously and I ensure that all debate I bring to the Board table are made after a lot of research and thought and not on a whim.

Passion: A proud born and bred Southlander, I have a huge passion for this wonderful province. Having travelled the world in my rugby life there is nothing more satisfying than arriving back to Invercargill after a trip overseas. No one can convince me there is a better city on earth to bring up children and to be within touching distance of so many wonderful outdoor attractions. Southland people are very straight forward and don’t make a fuss, so it is very easy to find common ground, regardless of station or title. We’re people who are always there for one another, to pick others up when they’re down. It’s these kind of qualities in people I’m so proud of, and would be honoured to represent at a board level.

Leadership: If there was ever a time in Invercargill’s history where strong leadership was needed it is now. We are becoming a very diverse population which is exciting, we have a CBD to build, several rebuilds (such as the Southland Museum and Art Gallery) which need to be completed, and we need to ensure our city’s assets (SIT, ILT Stadium Southland, Zero Fees Velodrome, etc) are built up over time by people with foresight and are protected and enhanced. Strong relationships between ICC, ILT, Community Trust South, The Richardson Group and other funders are essential to the longevity of our city. It is within relationship building that I am proven; I’m currently managing a team of six management personnel and 24 match officials for the World Sevens Rugby Series.

The ILT has seen several changes over the past five years with experienced management departing but while their experience was initially missed, the people stepping into their shoes are energetic, forward thinking people who have put their own mark on the business. I am very excited with what I am seeing happening in Invercargill. I’m keen to bring my leadership skills to the board table to complement and support the new and innovative thinking, which was implemented into our Strategic Plan created last year. The building of the $40 million Langlands Hotel will occupy a lot of our thinking time over the next two years but the fundamental decisions have now been made and it is very important we keep our eye on the ball regarding our other establishments. We must also undertake, listen and implement what the young people of our city want for their hospitality and entertainment sector.

A wine bar in Windsor, the development of the boat shed at the estuary, a pop-up bar in the inner city are all ideas which the new board will need to consider along with any other ideas the public bring to the table for the Board and management to ponder and investigate.

As Steve Hansen the most successful rugby coach in history has said “If we play like we did when we won in 2015 we won’t win in 2019, we must continue to improve otherwise we will fall behind”. This is so true and is also very relative for those involved with the ILT.

You the voter have 11 names to choose from for the six vacancies. I ask you to carefully consider which of the 11 you believe will best make up a board who will have the foresight and drive to implement change, to build relationships with the other city funders and, most importantly, listen to the people. The people, of course, are the ones we’re working for and whose expectations we must meet.

This is a paid opinion piece by arrangement. Authorised by Paddy O’Brien, Invercargill.

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