Here’s two words that could save Queenstown Inc a little bit of dough – Graham Budd.
It’s time that man was made Destination Queenstown chief executive.
The marketing boss – and long-suffering number two – at our regional tourism organisation is surely in line to be shoulder-tapped for a promotion to the soon-to-be vacant chief executive role.
Budd has now applied for it twice – and missed out twice. He’d be a brave man to apply a third time without some surety that he’d get the gig.
Whether he wants the top job anymore is unknown – wisely, he won’t be drawn on his plans or thoughts.
But there must be a part of him that wonders what sort of selection process was used back at the end of 2008 to decide upon Australian Stephen Pahl for the role – ahead of him.
At that stage, Budd – a very safe pair of hands who’d been a dedicated understudy to the doyen of DQ chief executives, David Kennedy – seemed a natural successor.
But no – in their wisdom, the powers-that-be on DQ’s board chose outsider Pahl, whose blond highlights would even have had Justin Marshall blushing. Within eight months Pahl had resigned – on top of that DQ was in a state of turmoil with a disgruntled staffing contingent and constitutional overhaul underway.
Again, Budd applied. Again, he was overlooked – this time for Everitt.
Everitt’s now off at the end of April to become Tourism New Zealand’s main man in China, having served just over two years in the Queenstown role.
Overall, Everitt’s done a pretty good job and he’s certainly steadied the ship.
And I’m certainly not saying Everitt was the wrong choice – far from it. He’s done a lot of excellent things, seemingly works hard and Tweets relentlessly to Queenstown’s advantage. And Everitt is generally in the thick of it when important airline connections come together, the Government needs lobbying and emerging markets are being explored.
But Queenstown needs to follow-up his good honest two-year stint with another similar solid appointment.
And if it isn’t Budd, then the resort may very well risk losing him. I’m just speculating here, but I can’t see Budd being the type of guy who’s going to be content to see out his working life in the number two role at an RTO – the attraction of Queenstown notwithstanding.
This is a man who has no real personal ties to the place and arrived with a glittering CV full of top marketing and executive roles for multinational giants like Unilever and Colgate-Palmolive.
Twice he’s had to suck up being overlooked – would he suck it up a third time? Or just decide the grass is greener elsewhere and it’s time for a change.
Budd knows the territory. On arrival he rolled out the new Pure Inspiration marketing positioning for the resort which survives today. He was almost singlehandedly responsible for ensuring Queenstown hosted the Classic All Blacks match versus a French selection during the Rugby World Cup. He’s on the executive of the Regional Tourism Organisations of New Zealand as well as being a board member on the Leading Mountain Resorts of the World group. He’s dedicated, passionate about the place, respected around town – and he doesn’t have blond highlights.
He’s got one other thing going for him – tens of thousands of dollars won’t have to be spent on a selection process and human resources consultancy.
Budd doesn’t deserve the uncertainty and angst of the selection process – if he can bring himself to even apply a third time.
What Graham Budd deserves is his shot.