The biannual opportunity for the New Zealand Asset Management community to meet and formulate its strategy for the next two years was held in Wellington on 7-8th November 2016. The NAMS Advanced Asset Management Forum – ‘Returning to the Top’ was the thought provoking theme at this forum and a challenging proposition that had attendees divergent in their thinking as to where our current practices and standards sit benchmarked to the rest of the world, are we still current and relevant and are we still leaders?
There we 22 speakers over two days presenting their thought leadership in the four key areas of Resilience, Long Term Management Planning, Metadata, and Advanced Asset Management. Of utmost importance to this forum was the development of a guiding outcome document which will assist IPWEA to focus on key areas of importance and growth within the asset management sector, followed by an action plan led by NAMS and IPWEA, supported by the collective wisdom and group discussion inputs of the participating forum attendees. This guiding strategy will be refined and released in early 2017 for distribution to IPWEA members. It was clear by the end of the forum that our asset management sector has much to be proud of in terms of achievements and accomplishments, but in order to remain at the forefront we must collaborate, innovate and redefine our perspective.
The forum was opened by Deputy Prime Minister Hon Bill English who applauded the work of the asset management community in New Zealand, but presented a strong message that intensified collaboration and government working with community utilising industry partner models as the next level of evolution for our infrastructure future. NZ economy growth in migration and population would impact our spend and an improved holistic view of capex across the balance sheet over the next 30 years was required English said. NZ needed investor confidence in the proposed $100B pipeline of government infrastructure spend. “We have won” English stated, “we have convinced the politicians that well-built and well managed infrastructure is best for the economy and our quality of life.”
International keynote speaker Michael Smith, Technical Director AECOM in the United Kingdom, described his leadership of the strategic asset management service to support Sellafield Ltd, one of the most complex and sensitive nuclear sites in the world. This involved implementing improved asset management and criticality techniques based on the PAS55 framework and methodology, which has now evolved into adoption of the ISO55000 asset management system. Smith extolled the successes and leading example of NZ in long-term planning, and went on to describe his view, and a general collective UK industry view that NZ is considered mature in this space. He added that NZ is still held in high esteem by other developed countries as the successful early adopters of asset management practice, leading front runners in the field of long-term asset planning.
Kiribati-based Dr Arthur Webb, Principal Fellow University of Wollongong, Former Deputy Director of Applied Geoscience and Technology Division (SOPAC) and Pacific coastal resilience leader, spoke about his view of asset management and resilience as it relates to vulnerable Pacific communities, coastal environments and climate change adaptation. To the practitioners here in NZ, a rising number view our resilience techniques, innovation and practice as average to good, but Webb reflected that other parts of the world are raising their game significantly to manage complex asset portfolios and environmental systems in sophisticated ways. The adoption of ISO55000 has also strengthened many processes, but at its core level Webb spoke about the lack of coordination between efforts, a humanistic response to complex problems and the advent of Mal-adaptation which increased rather than decreased resilience to risk factors.
NZ keynote speaker Edward Guy, Rational Ltd and NIAB Board Member, reminded the participants of the journey we have taken over the past 25 years in asset management with his paper Lead, Follow or Get out the Way, presenting a penetrating appraisal of our NZ practices. Guy questioned our leadership status as being theoretical rather than practical, exposing some hard truths on what he believes is holding us back from progressing as a sector. The final keynotes, Bruce Robertson – Morrison Low and Hayden Read – Auckland Council, co-presented the NZ Metadata project, a view from the side-lines, examining if this significant cross-sectorial initiative will re-establish the ‘edge’ that we have potentially lost and whether the metadata approach will help NZ to make a stepped change within the asset management profession.