Chamber Voice: 21 years of business - Tauranga Chamber of Commerce

Chamber Voice: 21 years of business

This month, our Anne (Pankhurst) celebrated 21 years at the Tauranga Chamber of Commerce, a massive milestone.

Our Marketing & Communications Manager Laura sat down with Anne to talk about what’s changed and what hasn’t in those two decades. 

In the last six years, I’ve worked at five different workplaces.

But that’s not a surprising statement for a millennial such as myself – studies show that millennials (born 1983 to 1994) typically stay in a role for no more than two years.

The real surprise comes when a job-hopper like me meets someone who has been at one place for nearly half of their working career (not in the same role, disclaimer).

That person is our very own Anne Pankhurst, a stalwart of the Tauranga Chamber of Commerce – well, in fact, the whole Tauranga business community.

Anne first came to the Chamber when the CEO was Craig Garner in a sales role, selling advertising into a monthly magazine called Chamber Voice. Sound familiar? 

It epitomises the theme of my chat with Anne: While much has changed in business, the fundamentals have remained the same… after all, why change a good thing? 

Changes at the Chamber

“The role of the Chamber hasn’t changed. Our role is always to listen to and react to the needs of the business community. At our core, we want to help create the best environment for businesses to operate in and always ask ourselves, ‘How can we help make it better?’”

While we no longer produce the monthly magazine, Chamber Voice still remains as a digital eNewsletter – an example of how the fundamentals haven’t changed but the delivery has adapted to the times.

“Our members want to be connected to information. They want to know what’s happening in the community and what people are up to – people are genuinely interested in other people.

“Introducing new technology allows us to keep innovating, and better interface with our members.”

One of the biggest changes has been bringing CEO Matt Cowley into the hot seat. With his and Anne’s political backgrounds, they understand the nuances of the political climate and its effects on the business community.

“Matt has bought a big change in the content delivery to the Chamber, the ability to look at things differently and to share that with us the team and then the business community. For me he has truly helped us move and become more relevant.”

Changes in the Tauranga business community

Needless to say, Tauranga and the surrounds have grown astronomically – and for the better.

“The biggest change has been the growth of industry. We used to be known as middle to small, but now we’re getting some really large companies relocating here and setting up solid industry. We’re no longer just a city of service providers.

Anne attributes one of the biggest changes to the Port of Tauranga and the accessibility to it.

“The Government is now looking at Tauranga as a critical part of their plan and a critical province. The Port drives change and through driving change they have remained the most efficient port in the country.”

Changes to the way we work

Productivity, not presence, is one of the biggest changes to the working world – something COVID-19 has accelerated in the past year.

Anne says there has been a significant shift to no longer focussing on “bums on seats”.  

“It’s not so draconian; it’s not about 9 to 5 but about outputs and achieving outcomes, and how you do that has changed. The boss doesn’t need to see you at your desk to know you’re working.

“What has changed is actually acknowledging that your greatest asset is your people, and working towards how you keep them, invest in them and growth them for your business.”

Anne also says daycare has revolutionised the world for working mums.

“When I was a working mum, there was no daycare of any kind. At Avalon Studios, my colleague Judy and I ran garage sales to raise money to have a crèche built on site. We had a huge number of women employees, and there was nothing to help them.

She says working women still face the same dilemmas, but the way we can manage it has evolved.

“For me, I loved working in broadcasting, but it was a choice between career and family, and I chose my family. I believe women still come to the same crossroads, but culturally we are shifting.

“There is more support, the husbands or partners of today are sharing more of the parenting, and childcare has really change the ability for women to work and have children.”

Other workplace issues such as sexual harassment or bullying have evolved, with Anne saying, “Work is now a partnership with you and your employer far more than it was, so the tools and process are there far more to deal with bad behaviour.”

No matter what’s changed, one thing has remained the same: Anne has been an integral part of the Chamber’s journey and we couldn’t do it without her. Congratulations on your milestone Anne!

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