Well after a mere 26 years, 7 months, and 12 days (or 9,720 days or 233,280 hours) of working for the New Zealand Companies Office I have decided that it is time for a change. I tendered my resignation this past week and my last day with the Ministry will be Friday 2 September 2011.
I am leaving to take up a role with the Foster Moore Ltd where I will be able to combine my geeky love of registries and IT. I will be helping develop Foster Moore’s international business and promoting their innovative services across the globe.
I noted in the email I sent to my staff that I have loved every minute (all 13,996,800 of them) of working for the Companies Office. I believe our office to be without a doubt the best companies registry on the planet, and I should know I’ve visited most of them.
The events of the last 12 months; the sudden death of my mother and the series of devastating earthquakes had really got me thinking in terms of the finite period of time ahead. I guess I want to do a few different things in order that I don’t have regrets when I’m sitting in front of the fish tank in my retirement home when I’m 90.
The actual giving of my resignation and the days that passed were relatively simple, I am under no illusions that all that time served will be remembered rather briefly before it is business as usual for those that remain. I am very proud of the great things that we’ve managed to achieve over the years, our clever use of technology (which I will obviously remain excited about given I get to keep building in my new role), our leadership internationally through organisations such as the Corporate Registers Forum but most of all for the great team culture we have built and which has endured for so long.
I remember being asked once what my leadership philosophy was. It is quite simple really, I have always held the view that people spend more time at work than at home and that my role was to make sure that the time spent at work was enjoyable. This meant (to me) that the work was valuable, had meaning, was positive and that people had a happy workplace. On the whole I reckon I’ve achieved that.
I never set out to be a public servant. When I left school I really had no idea what I would do. I entered a Catholic order of monks, the Christian Brothers, as a postulant with a view to becoming a teacher. This didn’t work out mainly as it was a rather solitary existence, despite living in a community of monks and I was far too young to be making such far reaching decisions. Upon my return to Christchurch (I had been doing the monastic gig in Auckland) I thought I had better get a job. I have never been unemployed.
I went for an interview at the State Services Commission, who in the 1980’s did all the recruitment for the public service. I had a very generic interview and was told that I would be contacted should a role suiting my talents (whatever they were perceived to be) became available. The following day I was contacted by the Commercial Affairs Division of the Department of Justice and after an interview with them was offered a role as a supernumerary cadet. I commenced service on 21 January 1985 with the New Zealand Companies Office, working in the records room. I received the princely salary of $7,646 per annum. I had to borrow some work clothes from a friend until I was able to buy my own.
My career with the Companies Office has been generous and varied. Over the course of my career I have studied for and received a bachelors degree in commerce and a masters degree in public administration. I have attended a multitude of training courses, including attendance at Outward Bound in the late 80’s which to this day I regard as a wonderful influence on my life. I have travelled extensively to many countries to participate in conferences, visit registries and to study.
I have made wonderful friends internationally and within New Zealand and the office. The Ministry has recently started using the Gallup Engagement Survey which includes a controversial question which asks “do you have a best friend at work?”. I never understood the drama around this question as I unashamedly do, it would be hard to be true to my leadership philosophy and not have friends at work.
I shall dearly miss my day to day routine when the curtain closes on this significant chapter of my life on Friday September 2nd. So much of who I (think I) am has been derived from being Justin Hygate Group Manager Business Registries. I have consciously been trying to ‘deconstruct’ myself over the last 12 months. Testing bits and deciding whether they need to be changed. There are a fair few bits I’ve not been happy with (the line from Springsteen -“When I look at myself I don’t see the man I wanted to be” resonates strongly from time to time). It’s very much a work in progress.
I am equally excited to be joining a creative, clever company like Foster Moore. I have known the directors and key staff for a very long time (they are the company that have built the clever technology for the New Zealand Companies Office for the last 16 years). They are great people whose values and mine align. They are honest, hard working and great fun. The best kind of Kiwi’s.
I shall get to travel, to remain wired into the registry world and to maintain the international friendships I have made. I shall get to devolve myself of some of the more tiresome parts of my day that public service life required (we’re not called bureaucrats for nothing) and I’ll get the satisfaction of influencing my income through direct effort, again not something that is easy to achieve in a large government machine. One challenge will be that I shall be based in Christchurch whereas the majority of the company is located in Auckland (and now Toronto). I will have to get used to a more solitary existence once again.
I am delighted that I am able to leave with head held high, the New Zealand Companies Office is in a good place and to leave government voluntarily is (in this day and age) always an achievement in itself. I will also be able to tell those fish in the tank that I did more than one thing in my life… and they’ll be pleased to hear that.
I look forward to the future and am grateful to the past for the way it has shaped me for better or for worse.