As Quality Roading and Services farewells chief financial officer Karen Burger, succession planning means most of the financial portfolio can be picked up by a top performing QRS staffer.
Finance administrator Siobhan Storey will take over a large amount of the financial strategy and reporting tasks previously managed by Karen who finishes this month to take on a new role at Thames-Coromandel District Council.
“I’ve been chief financial officer for 12 years and I’m proud of what myself and the company have achieved but it’s time to hand over the baton to someone new, says Karen.
At just 29-years-old Siobhan, Kahungunu/Pahuwera, will become financial controller for QRS.
Siobhan has already exceeded expectations during her five years with the council-owned company, says Karen.
“She’s got a quick brain and is very intelligent. We identified her interest in learning from a very early stage and have nurtured that.”
Karen has been at QRS for nearly 20 years with an 18-month break in the mid-2000s.
During her time she’s moved up through the positions of payroll clerk, administration support, senior administration officer, office manager and finally to chief financial officer. She’s relished the changing dynamics at the company and the chance to work with three chief executives during that time.
“It’s true, I have really enjoyed my time here, even the challenging times,” says the mother of two and pending first-time grandmother.
With her imminent departure, it’s not just QRS that loses Karen and her commitment to the community. Karen has been on the Board of Trustees at three schools most recently as chair at Wairoa College. She was chair of Wairoa Horizon Trust and has been a sports administrator in various clubs over the years.
Chief executive Nigel Pollock says at QRS Karen was cornerstone to a financial audit process overhaul in 2008 and was acting chief executive in 2016 when the company was part of a Local Government New Zealand functional review.
Resilience and loyalty was needed during the process which helped identify areas of improvement and better ways of working, he says.“Karen has those attributes in spades. Underlying it all was her desire to work for the betterment of Wairoa. We’ll miss her knowledge and experience, as well as her meticulous planning.”
QRS board chair Guy Gaddum says Karen has earned enormous respect from present and past directors for all that she’s achieved for the company including her time as interim CEO in 2016.
“She stepped into the role at a time the company was struggling. She executed herself with integrity and helped us overcome obstacles, and then when QRS found its new CEO in Nigel, she stepped back across into her own position. I think that is the measure of her professionalism.”
Mr Gaddum says succession planning at QRS is an invaluable way to retain employees and, as in Siobhan’s case, will accelerate the skill development of people who want it.
“QRS is acutely aware of the shortage of quality people available to work in some roles. Our first choice is always to develop people within, train them to our way of doing things. Siobhan lives our values and has been well trained by Karen.”
Siobhan says she’s always enjoyed learning. At 18 she was dux of Sacred Heart College in Napier and since then has earned a Bachelor of Arts in Māori resource management and most of her Bachelor of Law. With help from QRS she’s now working towards a Bachelor of Business Accounting to form the backbone qualification for her growing senior financial administrative role.
This week Karen and Siobhan are tidying up the calendar of work ahead for Siobhan including the next interim audit and financials for the annual report.
Between the two there is laughter and gentle ribbing borne out of a friendship built up over the years. Both are happy with the opportunities that lie ahead.
“I’m over my nerves now,” says Siobhan. “I am excited about the opportunity, and I know Karen is just down the end of a phone if I need her.
25 March 2020
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