I understand that the Chairman of Air New Zealand, Mr John Palmer, will retire at the upcoming annual general meeting, after twelve years in the role. Mr Palmer became Chair in 2001, when the airline was on its knees—essentially insolvent—save a bailout from the government of the day.
For ten years, Mr Palmer worked closely with now former CEO Rob Fyfe, to rebuild the organisation to become the strong, innovative and, importantly, profitable carrier that it is today. The journey was not always plain flying however. The test-flight tragedy in southern France cast a long shadow, and decisions to close engineering facilities (with the inevitable staff redundancies) and various routes would not have been easy. On the positive side of the ledger, new safety briefing videos, new uniforms, new cabin layouts, improved levels of service, and innovative fare structures have contributed to increased demand, and ultimately, better financial performance. Clearly, the company crafted an effective strategy, and implemented it well.
Mr Palmer has led well during his time as Chair, and his peers have recognised his not inconsiderable impact, by naming him the Chairman of the Year twice, in 2007 and 2009. Well done Mr Palmer, New Zealanders owe you a debt of gratitude.
Thoughts on corporate governance, strategy and the craft of board work; our place in the world; and, other things that catch my attention.