CEO Direct Channel podcast #5

It’s been a big few weeks at WAFIC, both at an administrative level and also in relation to the management of some challenging issues.

Firstly, we held our AGM in Fremantle which was well attended and there were some frank and transparent presentations about some of the speed bumps the organisation has experienced at Board level over the past year.

The current Chairman Murray Criddle was elected unopposed – and then there were four Board positions up for grabs.  The incumbent four Directors all gave good presentations – as well as the two new nominees who were very impressive.

In the end, the existing four Directors were returned however there was clearly a lot of encouragement given afterwards to the new candidates.

Overall at the AGM, there was a very positive air from all attendees and I am told this is only the second time ever that an existing Board has been returned.

At the following Board meeting a new Deputy Chair of WAFIC was selected – Adam Radford from Cervantes.  Adam currently works in the rock lobster industry – both at the helm and in the office – but has a strong background in corporate finance, so he brings a range of skills and experiences and interests to this position of leadership.

So there is certainly a strong degree of cohesion and stability within the Board and a clear direction moving forward – and I can assure you their expectations are very high and they’re certainly keeping me on my toes.  There’s no doubt about that!

The Board is also very conscious of the challenges which will be presented to our industry structure over coming years.  WAFIC’s income is calculated on a percentage of the GVP of the fisheries it represents.  With COVID impacts early in the year and some trade related matters later, this is collectively likely to impact upon our GVP income flow.

By how much, it can’t yet be predicted, we probably won’t be able to make an accurate assessment until June.  But given GVP calculations are done on a rolling three year average, our income will be subdued for at least three years.  Maybe four or five or six, who knows how long the COVID impacts will extend upon the Australian and global economies.

As a result, the bottom line is that our fishing industry structure will be impacted.  We simply won’t be able to operate in the same way as before because there’s simply not going to be enough money to deliver the existing level of service.

However – this part is critically important – I’m of the belief that with the introduction of a new management approach by WAFIC and the sector groups, we can certainly deliver a better service than at present – for less money.

How – well the current model isn’t very efficient so the initial step is to reduce the duplication between sectors groups and WAFIC – having separate admin – plus financial administration, insurance and media and communication services is pretty hard to maintain when they could be done collectively for a much lower price.

I’m not talking about taking away the independence of sector groups – not at all – instead talking about grasping efficiencies where we can and at the same time making sure we all collaborate to ensure that the work that needs to be done actually gets done – in the most efficient manner – without duplication – and without key things falling through the cracks.

It will also accurately apply human and financial resources in the most outcome-focused way – so they can be monitored and reported.

The consultation and grass-roots input will not be compromised in any way – but the real advantage would be that we can better deliver the outputs – and importantly we can report upon them much more accurately than at present – in other words we can be more accountable to you the fisher – and to your sector – and WAFIC as a whole can be more accountable to the whole fishing industry.

In the new year you’ll hear more about this approach and you’ll get to see some greater detail – and your oversight and feedback and input will be welcomed.

But I thought that it’s important at this early stage to make you aware of the likely approach for us to adopt to perform at a higher level on behalf of industry – at the same time as driving down costs.

As I said earlier, we don’t yet know what our future GVP driven budget will be – other than it will be a fair bit less than in the past.

We feel that it would be irresponsible to wait until the crunch comes along before saying “what happened” and then scrambling around trying to reactively work out what to do.

Instead we’ll take a responsible and strategic approach – we’ll first get our organisation functioning in the most effective and efficient manner – including cost effective and cost efficient – and then, when the extent of the future challenge is known, we can then make appropriate adjustments as necessary, if necessary.

So that’s just an early heads up of what we’re looking at.

One of the purposes of these Direct Channel podcasts is to provide industry with an insight to our thinking – to share with you the challenges we face and the types of avenues we are considering – so you can see the why of doing things which otherwise would not be apparent.

So we are being as transparent as possible.

I’ll talk soon, cheers.

You can download the full audio podcast here.