Changing role suits general manager

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Bastiaan Kramer is ready for his next challenge after guiding Restorative Justice through transition. Photo / John Borren
Bastiaan Kramer is ready for his next challenge after guiding Restorative Justice through transition. Photo / John Borren

The Restorative Justice Trust general manager Bastiaan Kramer thrives on change. He took on his current role 15 months ago, and having built the trust into the largest restorative justice provider in the country, is now getting ready for his next challenge.

"The change management process is nearing completion and I'm now starting to look for a succession plan so someone else can take over the helm," he said.

"Change is really where my skills are best utilised. I would rather have someone who is more skilled in taking the Restorative Justice Trust to the next level, which is now going to become more of a branding and marketing role, whereas I thrive more on internal change."

Mr Kramer took on the role as government legislation enacted in December 2014 began to impact the justice system and increase demand for the trust's services. The new legislation enshrined restorative justice into the legal system as an option for judges in cases when offenders had pleaded guilty and victims were willing to take part in the process.

When he came on board, the trust needed a change management process to quickly scale up its capabilities.

The non-profit Tauranga Moana Restorative Justice Trust, founded in 2004, had already changed its name to The Restorative Justice Trust as it began to expand beyond Tauranga. It now provides its services to the Coromandel, the Waikato and about half the Bay of Plenty. During the past two years the provider has moved from having only volunteers and a few contractors, to a fulltime staff of seven and a total staff of 23, and is still growing.

The trust has tripled annual revenue to $1 million in the past year, has almost tripled the number of restorative justice conference sessions it facilitates, and has opened an office in Hamilton. It recently became the largest of the 26 licensed providers across the country and is now being sought out for advice by other providers needing to scale up.

Trust chairwoman Anne Pankhurst said Mr Kramer was an extremely good change manager.

"We needed to change the entire delivery model and he's taken us from a small organisation to an organisation that manages quite a big government contract," Ms Pankhurst said. "We've grown considerably and he's managed that transition beautifully with his ability to project manage us into a more cohesive working unit."

Mr Kramer was born in the Netherlands and came to Tauranga with his family in 1982 at the age of 9. After completing his studies at Tauranga Boys' College, he worked locally, first at a bank then with a small accounting firm, then moved to Auckland where he began studying for an economics and psychology degree.

Finding that didn't fulfil his interests, he spent four years working with freight forwarder Contship Container Lines, before returning to his birthplace in 1996.

He began working with an IT company in Amsterdam, then moved to a logistics position that involved helping manage European distribution for Japanese electronics and health care company Omron for two years. While there he helped implement a just-in-time system that helped reduce European inventory levels by more than 20 per cent.

"As soon as change has been completed I tend to get a bit bored," said Mr Kramer.

He took a position as a global relationship manager for US IT company Cisco Systems, but left after four years as the company's growth stalled. He moved on to an IT R&D company to set up its project management department, a role that included helping set up production lines in China.

He then got shoulder-tapped for an IT position at Dutch bank ABN AMRO. In 2007, the bank was taken over by the Royal Bank of Scotland Group, Santander Group and Fortis consortium. Mr Kramer found himself in the middle of a major IT change management project, because integrating the IT was considered essential to integrating the merged bank's operations.

"It was very exciting, but also very stressful with 80-90 hour weeks and lots of double expressos," he said.

During his time at ABN AMRO his father had some health issues, prompting him to return to Tauranga in early 2010. He took a year off work to spend time with his parents. With his father recovered, he set up a consultancy.

Wanting to give back something of what he had learned abroad, he joined the board of YMCA Tauranga, where he now serves as chairman.

YMCA board member Bev Edlin, a Tauranga City councillor and governance expert, said Mr Kramer was passionate about helping to make a difference to support young people in their development.

"What he's trying to do there is extend his own governance skills as well as making sure the organisation is focusing in the right way."

Mr Kramer said he realised there was a big need for business skills in the not-for-profit sector.

"I really enjoyed the sector and the passion people had to do well for the community and that helped me want to focus more in that area. When the opening came up at Restorative Justice Trust, I grabbed it."

Love ties Kramer to Bay

A key reason Bastiaan Kramer decided to remain in Tauranga after his father recovered his health was meeting his partner Tina Jennen two years ago.

Ms Jennen is well-known in the Bay's start-up and angel investment community. Last year, she was appointed chief executive of the Plus Group of agri-tech companies.

Mr Kramer recently began an MBA at University of Waikato, which limits his free time, but tries to get in some golf and a bit of gardening.

The couple share the care of his partner's four children.

"I don't have any of my own, but I'm extremely happy with the four that have come into my life."

Bastiaan Kramer:

* Role: General manager, The Restorative Justice Trust; chairman, YMCA Tauranga

* Born: Amsterdam, Netherlands

* Age: 42

* First job: Bank teller

* Recently read: Legend: The Sir William Gallagher Story by Paul Goldsmith

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