Author: Don Magin

The importance of great people and maintaining culture

Our CEO Don Magin writes about how much banking has changed in the past 34 years but how having good people and maintaining your culture will never change.

The Greater’s deputy CEO and our Company Secretary Phil Baker is retiring after 34 years of service with our company. That’s a long time with one company, particularly for Gen X and Gen Y people reading this. Phil started work with us in 1978. He has served The Greater very well, particularly as our Company Secretary for 21 years.

Phil and I were talking about how much banking has changed over those years. After starting as an Assistant Accountant Phil spent a few years selling electrical goods in a Trading Society that operated from the ground floor of our head office. In those days there were a number of co-operative entities that were part of The Greater group.

Deregulation of the financial services sector in the 1980s, new uniform national legislation for Building Societies and Credit Unions in the 1990s, and the global financial crisis in the 2000s has changed our financial services landscape dramatically.  

Technology has also changed banking dramatically. When Phil started with The Greater there were no ATMs, personal computers or fax machines. Today fax machines are redundant and our customers are banking using their mobile phones.

Phil and I have been through a lot together, not least the 1989 Newcastle earthquake which severely damaged our head office in Hamilton.

I will be very sad to see Phil go. I felt the same late last year when our head of operations, Paul Dixon, retired after 24 years of service. In our organisation we have many long serving staff who become like family.  Phil and I are part of a club of 68 employees at The Greater that have served the company for more than 20 years. The members of the “20 Plus” club have given a total of more than 1,700 years of service. 

One of The Greater’s competitive advantages is our family culture, formed in part by our long serving and committed staff. Times are changing and people move more freely between companies these days, which is not necessarily a bad thing. But, times like these remind me of the value of hard working people and the importance of culture in a workplace. That will never change.

Good luck with the tennis and golf Phil and thanks for your contribution and friendship.