All good things must come to an end…

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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.

10 comments

  1. Dear Justin, You once asked me when I was going to start being who I dreamed of being (or words to that effect). At the time,it was an extraordinarily good question, and I am sure that your colleagues have benefited from similar insights over the years. My heartfelt best wishes for the next part of your adventure. Maybe we will met in an airport lounge one day! Cheers, Bridget W (ANZOG)

    1. Thanks Bridget, I am still trying to “follow my bliss”… It just keeps moving! And yes I fully imagine a random bumping into one another in a faceless airline terminal somewhere sometime – cos that would be fun.

  2. Hi Justin,

    Sounds like a great step for you. A big change but one full of promise.

    You’ve left your mark (positively I hasten to add) on the many people who’ve worked with you.

    Best wishes…

    Vikram

  3. Awesome finale Justin (for this chapter)…
    GOOD LUCK – to you and your family – for this significant step and I will watch with interest how you maintain your fantastic ability to spread joy, inspiration & innovation to your considerable circle of influence.
    As good as you are with technology and Social Media, it’s the intoxicating mix with your fabulous personality that engages us, so make sure you keep up the visit schedule.
    We have loved working with you (and your teams) over the past 12 years and look forward to keeping in contact – kia waimarie dude!
    Andy Fenton

  4. Hi Justin,

    WOW – good on you! A huge change that I think you will be very glad you made. A brave and invigorating step. It was fun working with you via HP. Hope our paths cross again – although I am currently ‘between contracts’ 🙂 for now but still based in Wellington. So if you are in town let me know as it would be great to ‘do coffee’.

    All the best
    Regards
    Catherine

  5. Now you will be able to fly as you should! An oppurtunity to become who you should be and share with the world.

    Great move Justin! All the best1

    See you in Toronto, and I hope, Ottawa.

    Dick

  6. So its farewell to the “entrepreneurial” Public Servant and hello to the world of competition, bottom-lines and profit! Well done Justin and well done Foster Moore for “fostering” a Jesuit who I know will bring energy, enthusiasm and vitality to the FM team. How the Government had you for so many years, making such a refreshing difference to an otherwise mundane environment, we will probably never know.

    And now its onwards and upwards Justin so congratulations, good luck and I look forward to following the Twitter vapour trail as you continue to be a (commercial) ambassador for the registry world and see the man you want to be!

    John

  7. Best of luck Justin. You’ve made an ingenious choice that should work out very well for you, as you’ll still be dealing with many of the same business issues, but from the private side. It’s great that you will still be crossing paths with us registry types.

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