Each year the New Zealand Herald surveys the country’s top CEOs for a report on business and political issues called Mood of the Boardroom. Associated with the survey, the Herald speaks directly with selected CEOs.
This year’s focus was the upcoming elections. Contributing to the report, IAG NZ’s CEO Jacki Johnson shared her concerns on the progress in rebuilding Canterbury and outlined how IAG plans to address those over the coming year. The following was published in the New Zealand Herald on 11 September 2014:
Concern over Christchurch
More than four years on since the first earthquake, CEOs remain concerned about the progress being made in Canterbury. Jacki Johnson, chief executive at IAG New Zealand, is in the thick of the Christchurch rebuild. She says the complexity of sequencing the different activities and resources required of the rebuild is one of the biggest challenges that still remains for Christchurch.
“The competition that could arise for resources between the commercial CBD build and the tall end of the residential rebuild could be complicated,” she said. “The longer it takes to get some of the complex issues sorted, the further timeframes get pushed out and then we could end up butting heads with a whole other host of resource contentions.
“At the same time there are some parts that can’t be built until the infrastructure to support that is built.” Johnson says one of the hardest parts of operating in Christchurch is balancing “a sustainable rebuild versus getting stuff done really fast”. She says that: “we cannot afford a situation where people are put into a worse situation than they might have been if we didn’t take the time to understand.”
Johnson’s top three business priorities for the next 12 months:
- Contribute to a safe and sustainable rebuild of Christchurch;
- Secure staff and customers after Lumley purchase;
- Build and implement new IT systems across all business units;
Her biggest achievement in the past year has been growing IAG’s direct insurance business organically through their digital strategy. If she could make one change to New Zealand, it would be to focus on long-term community resilience through improved urban planning, taking into account natural perils risk – full risk management rather than simply the transfer of financial risk.