Can’t Beat Them, Join Them

By David

What does it take to succeed in New Zealand sport? What qualities does Miskimmin look for when he appoints a suit to the Boards of Cycling, Rugby League, Swimming, Marbles and Tiddlywinks? Is there a special talent or feature that Miskimmin holds dear? Is there a unique detail that marks a person as suitable for power in the Board Rooms of New Zealand sport?

Well, I am going to let you in on a secret. I think I have the answer. I think I can disclose why some of the best administrators in New Zealand sport are overlooked; despatched into a bleak, sporting wilderness. I think I also know why some characters I wouldn’t put in charge of a student party in Speight’s Brewery end up as sporting VIPs. Be very careful what you do with this information.

But if you want to be anything at all in the Miskimmin empire you have to be a member of the Institute of Directors. It is as simple as that. If you can’t put “Member of the Institute of Directors” on your Resume, the corridors of sporting power are not for you. If you are a member of the Institute then three years in power and a junket to the Rio Olympic Games beckons. Membership of the Mezzanine Floor, Tower Building, 50 Customhouse Quay, Wellington and “Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it.” At least that’s the way it seems.

Just look at the evidence. The hired guns Miskimmin used to have planted in Swimming New Zealand Board Meetings were both members of the Institute of Directors. I’m not sure whether he still is but a couple of years ago Kerry McDonald was President of the place. On the current Swimming New Zealand Board Brent Layton is a “Fellow” of the Institute, Margaret McKee is a member, Bruce Cotterill is a member – Bruce Cotterell has more companies in his Director’s Resume than most of us have hot dinners – and Geoff Brown doesn’t say, but the number of his directorships strongly suggests Institute membership. Swimming is not the only sport that Miskimmin has populated with Institute members. Chis Moller is a favorite and, of course, Moller is a fully-fledged member of the Institute of Directors.

But, perhaps I should test my theory. After all, I’d be very interested in a position on one of Miskimmin’s Boards. It doesn’t have to be swimming; although I do have a fair bit of international experience in that sport. However to misquote Tim Shadbolt, “I don’t care where as long as I’m there.” After all I’ve got an impressive list of directorships. Not quite as many as Bruce Cotterell. No one has as many as Bruce Cotterell. But I have been on the Board of some pretty big companies, scattered around the world. So this is what I’ll do.

Tomorrow I’ll call on my past and go off and have lunch at the Head Office of the British Institute of Directors, 116 Pall Mall, St James, London SW1. Surely that’s going to be enough to get me in Miskimmin’s good books. Surely that will lift me into the McDonald and Moller clique. Surely I will become a candidate for New Zealand sporting prominence. To assure you that I’ve actually been welcomed in for lunch, I will finish this post tomorrow with full details of the food, the conversation and the company. I wouldn’t want Miskimmin thinking I was padding my Resume with any unearned status. In the meantime here’s a photo of where I’ll be at 12.00noon tomorrow afternoon.

… And now it’s tomorrow. My lunch is over. From 12.00noon to 5.30pm it’s only just over. My contact with the British Institute of Directors has been confirmed. I am expecting a call from Miskimmin at any moment. Lunch was a lot of fun. Two old mates of mine were there. Until recently Richard was the CEO of Britain’s largest meat company. Stephen owned his own lamb business until he sold it for many millions of pounds and retired into the Yorkshire countryside.

Actually Stephen is famous for another reason. Most Swimwatch readers will be aware of the children’s rhyme – The Grand Old Duke of York. You know the one.

The Grand Old Duke of York

He had ten thousand men

He marched them up to the top of the hill

And marched them down again

Well Stephen owns the castle at the top of the Duke of York’s hill; all sixteen bedrooms and fourteen bathrooms of it. He says the castle is becoming a bit much for him and his wife. In case he sells it I’ve included a photo of Stephen beside an Institute of Director’s statue of the Duke of York.

For lunch I had an entrée of English Rabbit and a main course of Welsh Lamb – deliciously washed down with far too much Chardonnay. As usual the occasion, the food, the company and the location were all you would expect from the British Institute of Directors.

Of course much of our conversation centered on what we had been doing since we last met. It is interesting that these self-made directors have little time for the socialism promoted by Miskimmin. And when you think of it – New Zealand must be unique. Here we have members of the New Zealand Institute of Directors, responsible for preserving and promoting the health of free market place economics, happily accepting Miskimmin’s invitation to sit on Boards that pillage the resources of private businesses like ours in West Auckland. Adam Smith should be their guide. Instead it seems Leon Trotsky is their leader. Never let there be any misunderstanding. The appalling condition of swimming in New Zealand that prompted the most recent changes was the direct consequence of central control. A free enterprise market in swimming would have done things so much better. Our problem is that the recent changes increased Swimming New Zealand’s central power. The feature that caused our problems has not been addressed. And the result will be the same. At least that’s what they tell me at the British Institute of Directors.

But hey, Peter you haven’t called yet. What more can I do? What more do you need?