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Three Cheers for 20 Years – Congratulations Nigel Skelt!

Sep 18, 2020
2157 Views

After 20 years in the job, ILT Stadium Southland boss Nigel Skelt has become pretty resilient about things not always going to plan.

And when he needs some downtime to reflect on business decisions that may have gone awry, he grabs the hoover.

Both at home and at work, he said if there’s a lux in his hand then that’s definitely not a time to approach him about something.

“I enjoy luxing and it’s not a bad thing for staff to see the boss doing that. It’s my thinking time.”

And there’s been a lot to reflect on lately. 2020 was supposed to be the year of celebrations for Stadium Southland – each month had been planned with a new big event – but then Covid-19 hit.

“Covid has absolutely damaged that completely.”

On March 25, 2000 he walked in the door as the new general manager of the facility, but in an uncanny twist of fate, on March 25, 2020 instead of celebrating that 20-year milestone, staff were closing the doors instead.

And tomorrow marks 10 years since the roof collapsed. But lets go back to the celebrations, because 20 years in the same job is a huge milestone and one worth mentioning.

Last Friday Nigel was offsite with some staff when he received a call about an incident back at the stadium.

A Government Minister was also in town and wanted the guided tour.

Not one to panic, he made his way back to work – ready to deal with whatever drama was thrown his way.

Instead, hiding behind a curtain was 60-70 staff, family and friends ready to jump out and give him the surprise of his life, with an afternoon of festivities to follow.

“It’s not very often I’m caught out like that,” he said.

There wouldn’t be many people who have lasted 20 years in the same job, and Nigel said initially he signed a contract for just two.

“You grow into a job and I think I’m a much better boss than 20 years ago.”

The biggest highlight of his career was hosting the World Shearing and Wool Handling Championships in 2018, which he described as “party central.”

“To have the stadium converted into New Zealand’s biggest shearing shed…the manpower and risk involved, was just wonderful.”

He puts his success in being a good boss down to the fact that his team was “not just driven from the top.”

And the proof of that was his willingness to muck in and get even the most mundane of jobs done – like luxing.

So will he be around in another 20 years?

“I’m on the home straight for sure but I have a few things I’d like to finish first, like the Southland Hall of Fame.

“But if somebody will buy me a new lux I may just be around a bit longer.”

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