Teamwork credited for award

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The Otago Chamber of Commerce’s latest life member said receiving the award was “a real honour”.
John Christie, who worked for the chamber for 21 years before becoming the Enterprise Dunedin director, received the award at the recent Otago Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards.
He attributes his success at the chamber to the support of a strong staff team and board.
“You don’t get an award like that for your own individual effort.”
Passion, and not the prospect of accolades, had motivated him during his time at the chamber, he said.
“You don’t do it for a life membership; you just do it because it’s what you’re passionate about doing.”
Mr Christie started working for the chamber as an administration manager in 1993.
He was then appointed by the chamber’s board of directors to the position of chief executive in 1995.
Mr Christie said the chamber was “in quite a different place” at the time and changes needed to be made.
“It was struggling financially. It had amalgamated with the manufacturers’ association and the export institute of Otago, so there was quite a lot of consolidation required in terms of what services we were providing the business community and what our value proposition was in terms of being a fee-for-service organisation.”
He said increasing membership from 600 to a peak of about 1400 had been a significant accomplishment during his tenure at the organisation. Today, the chamber has 968 members.
Strengthening membership had allowed the chamber to invest in some riskier propositions such as building business links with China, Mr Christie said.
Building those connections, including championing a sister-city relationship with Shanghai, was another achievement.
“I think we’ve done a really good job in that space.”
He said the role of the chamber and the Dunedin City Council was to open doors for Dunedin businesses to pursue opportunities.
Chamber chief executive Dougal McGowan said Mr Christie had been very good at communicating effectively and advocating for business.
Mr Christie is the sixth current life member of the chamber.