People at the heart of big thinking for better business

September 14, 2022

People at the heart of big thinking for better business

Origin Fire’s General Manager Stephen Mullins recently attended and spoke at the ACE New Zealand Conference and Awards, which was held in Rotorua across September 1st – 2nd, 2022.

Across the two days, over 210 delegates came together to discuss and explore the theme ‘big thinking for better business’. This included the challenges and opportunities that those in professional service consultancies face in recent times.

Stephen spoke on Friday during the second day of the conference, and his presentation on ‘Embarking on SME ownership transition’ resonated with the audience in unpacking practical insights that businesses should keep in mind during such a journey.

One of the big challenges that Stephen has witnessed within the industry over the past couple of years has been the impact of the pandemic.  The virus itself, combined with issues such as labour shortages, supply chain disruption and economic distress, has resulted in a context of extreme uncertainty and disruption for business. 

“To me ‘big thinking’ is about how we navigate as a business, and as part of the engineering community, through very uncertain times,” explains Stephen.

With this in mind, Stephen notes that the resilience and wellbeing of our people and teams is paramount as we learn to live with uncertainty and disruption. 

“We face big challenges that need industry-wide collaboration and effort to find good, sustainable solutions to. We need to try new things, and share our learnings, to move forward together,” says Stephen.

And when it comes to the philosophy of ‘big thinking’ with regards to Stephen’s presentation specifically, he outlines that while there are many practical steps to undertake during a transition of ownership, one of the key insights is to keep remembering that people are at the heart of it.

“As the owners look to step back, and others in the business are asked to step forward, each person will have their own emotional and personal response to what is happening.  It’s vital to communicate well and often, to listen, and to support the individuals involved as the transition progresses.”

Stephen thoroughly enjoyed his time at the ACE NZ Conference, and was also able to attend many of the presentations from leading service providers and other key speakers.  After three years of postponements due to COVID, the excitement and enthusiasm for those in attendance was infectious. Stephen mentioned two stand-out presentations he enjoyed during the event:

  • David Downs (NZ Story) who spoke on the need to shift the story of New Zealand from one of a remote place far away, to a country and nation where “care for people and connection to place drives our ingenuity.”
  • Dr Lucy Hone who spoke on resilience and wellbeing.  She made the point that you have some degree of control over how you respond to the circumstances of your life that you can’t control; and that the key to sustainable high performance is to take care of yourself to take care of your business.

Already looking ahead to next year’s conference, Stephen looks forward to connecting with familiar industry consultants, speakers and meeting new people to expand his community.