We’re delighted to announce that aviator Robyn Reid is being inducted into our Hall of Fame at the Nelson Pine Industries Chamber of Commerce Business Awards this November. Read here about Robyn’s career and her take on business;
“I first became involved in aviation when I met my husband Bill in 1979. He flew helicopters and owned a vintage Tiger Moth when we started dating so aviation became a big part of my life. We started our own helicopter business in 1983, six weeks after our first baby was born. Back then we made money on deer recovery but by 1985 had diversified into general charter. Bill did the flying and I ran the business, which worked really well for us.
For the first ten years I was happy to run our small business and bring up two kids, however aviation and the industries we worked for started to change and there was a lot of talk about total quality management. In order to keep up with our clients I knew I had to learn as much as I could about this subject.
In 1994 I decided to do a night course at NMIT for a Certificate in Quality Assurance and then continued learning extramurally through Massey, gaining a Diploma in QA. When you get into the learning mode again as an adult you realise just how much you don’t know so when I finished the diploma of QA I continued studying extramurally for a Bachelor of Business Studies Every paper I sat had a relevance to our business and consequently improved it.
In the mid 90’s the Civil Aviation rules were changing and I could see that if those in the helicopter industry did not get involved in advising the CAA on what was practical for that part of the industry our days would be numbered. So I got involved with the Aviation Industry Association by becoming chair of the helicopter division in 1996 and began working on a rules advisory team with CAA and fought for practical operating rules.
Apart from working for a major finance company before we started our own business I have always worked for myself. While the rewards are there if you work hard and keep on top of changes, there are also many times when you wonder what you are doing. Times like working seven days a week, wondering how you are going to pay next week’s wages and whether changes to legislation will put you out of business.
Because of my involvement in legislative changes with CAA and other industry groups in 2003 I became an inaugural member of the national Small Business Advisory Group. We sat with many officials in Wellington telling us how they were going to change legislation for business and 90% of the time we tore them to shreds. The ones that were on the button had previously worked in business but you could see they were getting worn down by bureaucracy.
During the 1990’s I had often thought of entering our business into the Chamber of Commerce Business Awards and in 1998 I finally took the plunge. The entry made me bring a whole lot of information together into one document and I used that information in various ways for many years after. We won our category and then went on to win the supreme award. That was my first contact with the Chamber and I have been involved with it ever since in various roles including being president from 1999 to 2002. The Chamber provides an incredible service and most importantly a chance for business owners to connect with each other and realise they are not alone.
There are several key highlights in my business career that I am proud of. The first is becoming the inaugural recipient of the Director of Civil Aviation’s Award for Safety for an individual. That was in 1995 and since then many highly distinguished aviators have followed me.
Also in 1995 our company was awarded a Business Development Quality Award from the Ministry of Business Development.
The next highlight was being awarded the supreme winner of the 1998 Nelson Tasman Chamber of Commerce Business Awards.
Being appointed a member of the Civil Aviation Authority and a board member of the NZ Aviation Security Service in 2005 was another highlight of my career.
The biggest changes in business over the last 35 years are those in health and safety and technology. Helicopter operations were reasonably self-regulated up until the late 80’s but as the rules changed in the 90s aviation companies had to become more professional and change their systems to meet safety requirements. As a result the majority of aviation operators have good safety systems in place therefore the recent changes to health and safety legislation will not change aircraft operations to any great extent. They will however impact on the peripheral activities of all businesses and it will be interesting to see the cost v benefit impact on business over the next five years.
The advent of the computer and of course internet has made it so much easier to do business I can remember typing out contracts and twinking the odd mistake or having to retype the whole page if you wanted to change something. I also remember handwriting my cash journal every month and adding all the columns to make sure they balanced. Now the flick of a button does all that. But I do wish people had conversations sometimes, instead of texts or emails where a lot can be lost in translation, resulting in misunderstandings that are so unnecessary.
My advice to others in business is not to bury your head in the sand doing what you always do. Keep abreast of changes in your industry and changes in business legislation. Keep learning and upskilling yourself and be passionate about your industry. Get involved in your industry, particularly when potential changes to legislation might do you out of business. Travel as much as you can, especially attending overseas industry conventions to see what is happening in the rest of the world. Have a great relationship with your bank and other professionals so that they understand your business. Don’t be second best and demand excellence from those around you. And if you don’t do any of those things ask yourself honestly if you would be better working as an employee than owning your own business.
Being inducted into the hall of fame is certainly another highlight of my career. It shows me that all the hours of working hard, being involved in business/industry organisations, learning and advising others have been worth it and I am humbled by this recognition.”