TUANZ chair steps down, organisation continues to rebuild

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After seven years as chair of the Telecommunications Users Association (TUANZ), Pat O’Connell is standing down from the role following the organisation’s AGM this week, although he will remain a member of the board.

O’Connell, who’s day job is CIO for Rank Group, has been chair of the organisation through a period of change – both in the telecommunications sector and in TUANZ itself. The organisation, which has 170 members, has shifted its focus to digital enablement with new initiatives such as its future leader’s programme FLINT.

In his AGM presentation, CEO Craig Young characterised the previous year as “continued rebuild”, and cited FLINT and an increase in networking events as achievements. He noted that membership is “static but loyal” and that “financial stability remains an issue.”

The Net Result for the year ended 31 March 2017 was a loss of $50,494 (compared to the 2015 loss of $32,869), and gross operating revenue was $402,035 (2015 revenue was $308,549).

While the financial periods are not directly comparable because the most recent result covers a 15-month period – after TUANZ moved its financial year reporting date – it does show that the association continues to run at a loss. But Young says this is a sign that the organisation “has been rebuilding activity ahead of financial returns.”

“If you compare the number of events and programmes to two to three years ago, we are doing so much more and at the same time continuing to represent our members to Government and the media just as much as ever before. We are targeting in this current year to at least break even if not make a small profit,” he told The Foresyte Report.

Young says TUANZ continues to be active in the advocacy space, noting that “the push for infrastructure sharing in rural, toughening up the consumer disputes ecosystem and a review of the mobile market have actually been taken up by the Government in the last 12 months.”

With so many ICT interest groups in New Zealand – 18 produced the tech sector’s Election Manifesto – what does Young see as his organisation’s point of difference?

“We are not a tech sector group in that our primary aim is not to specifically help develop that sector. We are the uniquely independent gathering of users of tech – and that’s our differentiator – we use tech. Our biggest members are banks, transport companies and universities,” he says.

At the TUANZ AGM, six board members were returned to two-year terms, and a new member Clayton Balle from Westpac and a graduate of the FLINT programme, was elected. The Board will elect a new chair at its next meeting.

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