Vodafone’s Reon Goodwillie has a brief many change managers would envy – he will oversee an increase of about 450 workers over the next 24 months in Christchurch.
He is Vodafone’s recently appointed Head of the South Island based in the company’s new $50 million headquarters in Tuam St, Christchurch where about 360 staff members have already moved in.
A portion of the increase in workers will come from staff relocating from Auckland and other centres, plus replacement from the natural churn rate of staff.
Some of the 70-odd new staff this year have moved to the Garden City to enjoy the improved lifestyle, nicer homes and easier transport – which compared with Auckland is still “a breeze”, according to Goodwillie.
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Originally from Invercargill, Goodwillie began working for Ben Rumble Communications in the 1990s and has been with Vodafone for 15 years, frequently commuting to Auckland.
Now he will have more time with family in his newly created position. He achieved some public profile a few years ago when he took part in a Fight For Life boxing match for Type-1 diabetes, which afflicts his teenage daughter, and later a Child Cancer Foundation fundraiser.
Vodafone stronger presence was aimed at wresting market share from dominant rival in the south, Spark.
Some of it will come from acquisitions such as Timaru-based rural internet services provider Farmside, acquired for $10 million last month, Goodwillie said.
Vodafone also plans to build new cell sites in Canterbury and upgrade cell sites to ensure faster connection speeds and more capacity.
Vodafone works with fibre cable companies like Enable Networks but it also has its own FibreX cable network covering parts of Christchurch, a legacy from the time it was known as Telstra Clear.
A large proportion of Vodafone’s business at the new Christchurch centre involves assisting customers via its Ninja team to set up electronic devices for WiFi and internet connection, cellphone issues, billing, call centre inquiries and the like, he said.
Other groups are working on Vodafone computer applications which enable customers to manage telephone accounts by cellphone or computer.
The aim of the new work environment was to provide a casual but focused work place, Goodwillie said. Children may be common visitors during school holidays, and some employees enjoy the flexibility of working from home.
The building is light and airy with high ceilings, large conferencing areas, numerous meeting places and work stations, and is surprisingly quiet.
But woe betide the staff member who turns up without a cellphone or forgets to charge it – the cellphone is the identity passport to entry of the building, and making appointments and other communication. Printers are based on the third level of the four-storey building should staff feel the need for paper printouts.
Goodwillie said the building is also the venue for Vodafone’s xone programme participants.
Applications for the next tranche have opened and will close in early May.
Last year 10 selected companies out of 170 applicants for the accelerator programme received $150,000 of funding each including $25,000 in cash courtesy of government funding via Callaghan Innovation which disburses the money.
Companies enjoy access to Vodafone technology and mentoring for the six month programme.
Danny Tan, founder of IotStream, was one of the first 10 companies and he said the mentoring, collaboration and access to entrepreneurs had opened new doors.
Xone helped the companies collectively generate $9 million in new revenue, attracted $7 million in capital funding, created 25 new jobs, and opened opportunities in other countries, according to Vodafone’s publicity team.