Keep your hands off


Destination Queenstown’s interim boss and a just-resigned board member don’t want a repeat of Queenstown Lakes District Council’s selection process that was used to appoint Stephen Pahl.

Pahl, who announced his shock resignation as DQ chief executive last week after eight months in the role, was recruited with help from QLDC’s human resources department rather than more expensive outside experts.

Pahl cited wife Debbie’s time-consuming Australian businesses and his own “temporary health issues” as reasons for his sudden departure.

Retiring Skyline Enterprises boss Ken Matthews, taking over as interim DQ chief executive when Pahl finishes officially tomorrow, wants an independent recruitment agency used this time.

“They add additional skills that not you and I will possess, and having just been through the process, I can vouch for that.”

DQ board member Louise Kiely, who stepped down at last night’s AGM, says HR from QLDC can help but doesn’t have the required tourism understanding.

“I’ve learnt the importance of a more extended job description and more thorough process at the interview stage.”

A board source adds: “The involvement of QLDC in recruitment has been unfortunate. DQ members want a good relationship with council, but not to be influenced or as closely aligned as we’re getting.”

Back in October before Pahl’s appointment, Mountain Scene revealed DQ ads for the job asked applicants to send CVs to QLDC human resources manager Rachel Reece. She served on a selection sub-committee. Other members were DQ chair Erna Spijkerbosch and DQ board members Steve McLean and Mark Simpson.

At the time, Spijkerbosch said after applications arrived, she and Reece would go through them and Reece would assist throughout selection.

Pahl wouldn’t say last week whether a QLDC staffer was present for his job interview.

QLDC boss Duncan Field has again offered HR help to recruit Pahl’s successor. An HR person “simply presents a set of candidates to the decision-makers, but they are candidates that have been thoroughly checked – the good HR people say, ‘We need to check the person hasn’t got convictions, we need to check they’re not a credit risk’ ”, Field says.

“I’m happy to provide the service but I certainly wouldn’t be offended if they chose to go somewhere else.”

Field admits his staff wouldn’t have tourism knowhow but “good HR people just have a nose for trouble”, he says. Addressing concerns DQ’s independence is being blurred, Field says: “We collect the [commercial] rate so we have some accountability for that.”

At last night’s DQ AGM, Cham­­­­ber of Commerce board member Miles Wilson moved that DQ use independent recruiters to appoint its chief executive. Spijkerbosch retorted it wasn’t necessary as those moves had already been put in place.

So sorry, says DQ ex-boss

Outgoing Destination Queenstown boss Stephen Pahl says sorry if he’s let business owners down during his short tenure.

Pahl finishes tomorrow as chief executive following his shock resignation last week – eight months after moving from Australia – for health and family reasons.

At last night’s AGM of DQ, Pahl told members he “deeply apologises” for his short stay.

“It’s certainly the shortest innings I’ve had in my 30-year career. I’m not going to discuss [why I’m leaving] – it’s well-documented.

“To you all – if you feel I have in some way let you down, I apologise for that.”

Pahl told the meeting he’d “strived abundantly hard” to implement a performance-based framework within DQ and establish connectivity within the industry, to “ensure a high degree of accountability and transparency”, and to strengthen partnerships with national industry groups.

As a “parting warning”, Pahl said Queenstown “seriously” needs to put together a 10-year plan to incorporate the “visions” of Queenstown Lakes District Council, its quangos Lakes Leisure and Queenstown Airport Corporation, and DQ.

“At the moment the region is very much living hand to mouth. [There must be] consistency over the next 10 years. At the moment we don’t have that and I think it’s quite important.”

Board member Louise Kiely stepped down after nominations closed – her spot will be filled by the incoming board.

Keep your hands off