Thursday, August 19, 2010

Challenges Ahead For Qualmark's New General Manager

We see that Paula McCallum has been appointed to the position of General Manager of Qualmark NZ Ltd and commences her position on the 1 September 2010.

Her last position was General Manager, Auckland and Northland for Fastway Couriers. She has operated two of her own businesses and held a significant channel management and marketing role with United Networks in Auckland. 

What is immediately evident is that the job-title of Qulamark's head has been amended from "Chief Executive" to "General Manager."

The streamlining of Qualmark's operations started in April this year when  Chief Executive, Geoff Penrose was issued with a DCM (Don't come Monday). David Wilks, General Manager with Tourism New Zealand (TNZ) took over a caretakers role of Qualmark until a replacement was found. 

Geoff Penrose will probably be most remembered for being at the helm when Qualmark inserted a fashionable and politically correct environmental criteria into their quality assessment under the maternal eye of the previous government. This meant that accommodation businesses were assessed on their allegiance to environmental and social mantra as part of their quality assessment process. 

This embedded criteria meant that an accommodation property had the opportunity to maintain or in some circumstances, increase their quality star rating due to their environmental and social efforts. 

We understand that the environmental criteria will be extracted from Qualmark's quality assessment and be offered as a stand alone assessment. Token minimum environmental standards will remain within the quality assessment. 

As Qualmark will now be run remotely from Tourism New Zealand, the vacant CEO position has been made redundant and has been replaced with a "General Manager" that will have reduced discretion by performing the function of an office manager. Major strategic decisions will be made outside the organisation.

There is no doubt Qualmark's other "back office" functions will also move over to TNZ and this will have an immediate positive effect on Qualmark's efficiencies and financial outgoings.

We suspect that Qualmark will be moving out of their offices just off Queen Street in Auckland into a more modest abode, possibly camping within existing Tourism New Zealand office space. 

As is usual with any major corporate shake-up there will be a customary change in branding and it is planed to give greater prominence to the stars. For motels, Qualmark will finally drop the contentious "Service and Self-contained" moniker and the sector will be branded as "Motels." 

The assessment process is to be streamlined, however there is not too much detail released to stakeholders on how this will be achieved at this stage. We do know that properties that choose to be assessed for a separate Qualmark Green enviro rating will now be able to be assessed and graded on the spot. 

Qualmark's Shareholders, Tourism NZ and the Automobile Association have "renewed their support" so funding streams at least in the short term have been agreed. 

It will be interesting to follow what savings and efficiencies Qualmark will achieve? What future public funding it will take to sustain Qualmark? And how will the tourism industry react to the changes?

Hopefully, Paula McCallum's appointment will not prove to be a hospital pass. She will have an exciting ride over the next couple of years as Qualmark goes through the pain of evolving from a government funded social adjunct to a lean and mean business unit that will be privatised in the National led government's second term.

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