Voted the most influential man in Hawke's Bay, Kevin Atkinson runs a successful company while chairing Unison Networks and the Hawke's Bay District Health Board (DHB) for which he is often summoned to Wellington.
Patrick O'Sullivan asked him how he keeps it all together
1 How do you manage to run a successful company and also chair two of the biggest organisations in Hawke's Bay?
I enjoy business and people. I've always had a strong work ethic, which requires commitment and discipline. I have a comprehensive work plan across the year that incorporates all three roles.
My involvement in the health and electricity sectors over 15 years has taught me the importance of prioritising time because the workload these governance roles demand has increased immensely.
I generally dedicate Mondays and Wednesdays to the DHB and Fridays to Unison.
When I started, all my time was for the DHB locally but it's now evenly split with representing Hawke's Bay within one of the four New Zealand health regions.
I moved into chairman roles once my business was in the position that I could step back from daily management.
Unison and the DHB have very capable management teams and are led by two excellent chief executives, who I work with closely. My wife, Penny, and the staff at IMS also provide good support and assistance.
2 Have you any plans for IMS Payroll to emulate Xero's success using the Cloud?
After 12 months of development, a highlight has been IMS Payroll's cloud version going live three weeks ago. We hope more than 500 of our 10,000 users will run their payroll in the Cloud by the end of next year.
The desktop version is still in strong demand and we will continue to enhance and support this version of IMS Payroll for our customers.
While a growing number of SMEs are moving their business support services into the Cloud, many still have a significant investment in in-house servers and equipment and are not currently in a position to move all applications to the Cloud.
Over time, we will see far more businesses processing their work in the Cloud especially as broadband speeds improve.
3 Why does IMS carry so many sport sponsorships?
I played a lot of sport in Hawke's Bay in my younger years and enjoy giving something back to the province. Hawke's Bay's participation and success in national competitions enhances the region's profile and brings enjoyment and pride to many in the province.
4 Which organisation are you proudest of?
I am proud of them all.
My own business IMS Payroll has grown to become one of the leading providers to businesses in New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. We now have about 20 per cent of the market of those businesses with five-plus staff.
Over the past three years, the Hawke's Bay DHB has become one of the best performing in the country which has put us in a good position to consider major infrastructure improvements, including a seventh operating theatre, a new dialysis centre, Wairoa's Health Centre, a new primary birthing unit and a new mental health inpatient facility.
Unison has led the country in the deployment of smart network technologies and has just completed a year where we have transformed our electricity through Smart Grid investment, delivered our best network performance in history, achieved our highest ever customer satisfaction rating and a record financial result.
5 Have you decided if you are running again in the DHB elections in October?
I would like to serve another term as chairman but I am still to make a final decision. If I decide to continue, I will stand for election rather than rely on the appointment process.
A key factor in my decision will be ensuring I have the time to perform the regional and national responsibilities the role demands.