Strategy & Planning
Reading through Ross’s work history, qualifications and his contributions to Rotary and the Community it is quickly apparent that his story is about ongoing personal development including using education and life lessons to create positive contributions and change.
Ross’s career commenced through his apprenticeship as a builder then developed his skills in both building and construction over the next 10 years moving through to becoming a Project Manager for some significant projects within the North Island. However, this was only a step towards his greater ambition to pursue a passion to become a Technical Teacher utilising the skills he had developed from his building and construction experience.
Ross says “This ambition arose from my own experience under my Highschool Technical Teacher, who helped instill the skills, the inspiration to learn and my ambition to do the same for other young people coming through the system. In this regard, he was both a role model and mentor.”
Having then qualified as a teacher, he spent the next 23 years in tertiary education at Nelson Polytech, first as a Lecturer and later in several roles as a Head of Department. Through his experience and contacts, he progressed into self-employment as an education and training consultant for the following 22 years including 6 years as a director of a Wellington based private training enterprise.
His potential was recognised early in his education career, when the then head of the Nelson Polytechnic, who was also a Rotarian encouraged Ross to apply to become part of a Rotary International Technical Training programme in 1975, with a year at Oregon State University in the USA.
“This was my first overseas travel and living experience outside New Zealand and broadened my horizons from the programme content, mixing with others on the programme and from people we met and interacted with whilst living in the United States.
This was also my first exposure to Rotary and was a catalyst to me subsequently joining as a member in 1980. I saw membership as an opportunity to put back for that privilege and the benefits I gained”,
Ross was active in the community outside of Rotary having taken an involvement across a wide range of organisations including around education, sport, Chamber of Commerce and a Nelson Employment Task Force. At a National level, he was appointed to the board of the Association for Continuing and Community Education.
” Qualifications at trade, technician and university level and affiliations with Rotary provided credibility in all those endeavours.” He said.
He was, later in his career, accepted under a New Zealand/Australian Government initiative to do a course of study at the University of New England in New South Wales, studying Tertiary Education Administration which again added to his toolkit of skills.
During his years at the Polytechnic, Ross experienced the challenges of becoming a solo parent and bringing up his two daughters, then aged 5 and 12.
He acknowledged this led to “some interesting times” as they grew up and into their teenage years.
This period also provided a direct understanding of many of the challenges facing solo parents and assisted with his later involvement with Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBS).
Rotary also played a strong part in maintaining balance through this time.
“Rotary was a vital, constant, friendly and supportive weekly refuge and included sharing time working on projects with others, talking about things other than business.” He said
“Rotary was equally important when I started my business. Often working by myself I got great benefit from the opportunities Rotary provided to share time away from work and to build networks and share projects with others. This included attending meetings and meeting members of other clubs when work took me to other centres around New Zealand “.
Ross’s contribution in Rotary continued to grow as family responsibilities reduced and then during his transition from a busy career as he moved into retirement. He utilised his skills in mentoring, strategy, planning and leadership to support Rotary on both a club and district level as well as through projects including support of Rotary International projects such as Polio Plus
Ross’s Rotary involvement resulted in his introduction to Big Brothers Big Sisters which started when, in 2011 he was asked by the then Rotary representative on the Board to help them prepare a new strategic plan. Subsequently, he spent 2 years on the Board of the Nelson/Tasman branch as a Trustee,9 years as Chair and after stepping down late last year has taken on a role as ambassador for the Nelson/Tasman region to support and promote its ongoing development. See the story on BBBS at https://www.rotarynelson.nz/stories/big-brothers-big-sisters-nelson-tasman
He also took on a role as Chair of Natureland Trust with another Rotarian Gavin Sendall also joining the Board to lead a review of all aspects of the organisation and implement a recovery plan. As part of this recovery, over the next 2years projects were completed by both the Nelson and Nelson West Rotary clubs to improve facilities.
His contribution to Rotary and the community is best measured by the respect people have for Ross and is evidenced in his appointment as the ambassador to BBBS and as a life member after stepping down s Chair.
In summing up his time in Rotary he acknowledged that:
“I am conscious that in my further contributions, over my 40 plus years of involvement, I have in return received a whole lot more from Rotary. The returns are in the satisfaction from helping others, the friendships and having fun, being part of the Rotary family brings. Being part of the internationality of Rotary also makes it possible contribute in a small way to help achieve big things around the world.”