Ahead of the curve on the numbers

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Ahead of the curve on the numbers

TERRY HUGHES has built a wealth of knowledge and experience in accountancy, management and information systems over the last 30-or so years.

He’s helped to turn Careers New Zealand around, had a hand in the ‘‘Think Big’’ projects, worked on the implementation of accrual accounting into public sector accounting in the 1980s and the New Zealand International Financial Reporting Standards into a number of organisations.

He’s also been instrumental in transforming a health insurance company and has installed accounting systems in small entities to large government departments.

The former accountant is now semiretired, enjoying his role at Lower Hutt-based JDI Business Coaching, a franchise under the international ActionCOACH model that specialises in educating and coaching in areas from sales, marketing, advertising, systems and communications to team building, time management and other strategies for success.

Supporting business coach and wife Gaylene, Hughes is the go-to guy when it comes to accounting systems and processes and ensures everything is running smoothly behind the scenes, both for JDI and its clients.

Outside of JDI, he dabbles in a little consultancy work ‘‘troubleshooting’’, and is treasurer for the non-profit Hutt City Emergency Response Team.

‘‘Accountancy gets a lot of bad press, but every business needs one and as an accountant you’re not restricted to one industry.

‘‘You can work with lots of different people, you generate good experience, good technical knowledge, good networks and then apply them back in your community and within your family, which is what I’ve done.

‘‘And it’s great to have the resources and skills to be able to make a difference here and there,’’ he says.

On any given day Hughes can be presenting to a group of business owners on topics such as more customers, more money or more free time, making sense of business data accounting systems, spreadsheets, and customer management systems (CRM), or extracting and modelling data to help people see what could happen in their business, given different choices.

And some days he’ll be dabbling in the business applications of social media, tuning up the technology in his office, or advocating for the rescue team with local business leaders and politicians.

Having had such a diverse career path, he draws on his three decades’ worth of expertise to help others better their systems and processes.

‘‘Normally success is not about fancy systems but getting people to believe it is possible and to give them the skills, confidence and basic information to progress.’’

Among his own career highlights is the financial turn-around of Accuro Health Insurance, where, in his last role as chief financial officer, he helped it to recover from annual million dollar losses to achieving million dollar surpluses within four years.

‘‘What was even more satisfying was signing off the cheques for people who were getting their bodies fixed, or getting their functionality back.

‘‘I don’t normally get excited about sending money out of an organisation but I hope the people got the benefit of the money in terms of the outcomes from the medical procedure they’d signed up for,’’ he says.

Another organisation he helped out of the doldrums is Career Services, now called Careers New Zealand.

‘‘We had 90 people on the pay roll, the place was struggling and no-one knew what to do with it.

‘‘When I left eight years later the systems were humming, we’d moved from being paper-based and just in schools to being a call centre, webbased and a greater reach.

‘‘I signed off 160 people on my last pay roll, we were doing innovative stuff and other organisations began to see the value of giving our young people some real guidance about opportunities that were available to them.’’

The Education Review Office is another success story, where Hughes, as finance manager, was part of the team that increased its credibility and reach.

‘‘The first job I had in there was to plan a restructure that got rid of 25 per cent of people at Christmas. There was a distinct logic for it and I had no choice but to get on with it.

‘‘Fortunately those people weren’t kept in limbo for a long time, and it was in the days where you got a good payout and went off and did something else.

‘‘It was also in the days when noone knew what ERO was, but we managed to get additional funding for reviews of the education sector as a whole and now, ERO is often the first place parents look when they are deciding on schools for their kids.’’

One of his proudest moments relates to his own children, helping to set up the first Montessori pre-school in Lower Hutt.

Article written in the Dominion Post 18 October 2017