Efficient management and administration
The AWRI’s management and administration is carried out by a dedicated team of specialists who work together to provide leadership, infrastructure, financial, human resources, legal, contract management, work health and safety (WHS), corporate governance and IT services in a seamless manner. The team’s objective is to enable AWRI staff to focus on their core capabilities to ensure that the organisation is able to meet its business objectives and in turn the expectations of its stakeholders. The team works closely with the AWRI Board which provides additional leadership and oversight to all of the AWRI’s activities.
The finance team, led by Chris Day (Group Manager – Corporate Services), built upon the AWRI’s previous year’s exemption from payroll tax in South Australia through achieving similar exemptions in Victoria and Queensland (the other states in which the AWRI currently has staff), assisted by its advisors PricewaterhouseCoopers. Other significant activities included the appointment of Ord Minnett as the AWRI’s external investment manager, and transitioning the organisation’s investments from solely term deposits to a more diversified (but nevertheless conservative) portfolio of financial assets, including equities and interest rate securities, while retaining a component of the more traditional instruments. Other finance activities encompassed financial management, budgeting and reporting to the AWRI Board, funding organisations (particularly Wine Australia) and government.
Alfons Cuijvers, the Human Resources Coordinator, maintains responsibility for a broad range of functions including recruitment, employment contract management, visa, payroll and compliance activities. In addition, during the year Alfons invested significant effort in leading a comprehensive review of the AWRI’s Operational Risk Register, covering all aspects of the organisation. This year saw a further expansion of the AWRI’s Employer of Choice program, including the addition of subsidised in-house Pilates/yoga classes, the implementation of a workplace banking program and access to a number of preferential wine programs in conjunction with industry partners. The AWRI’s positive working environment is well reflected in the results of a June 2016 staff survey, with 96% of respondents confirming that ‘all things considered, the AWRI is a great place to work’. Many of the AWRI’s directors make a substantial contribution to employees’ access to professional development opportunities, through nominating for their directorship fees to instead be applied towards supporting such activities – their assistance in this respect is gratefully acknowledged.
The Operations Manager, Mark Braybrook, manages all AWRI infrastructure, equipment and engineering requirements and represents the AWRI’s interests, in partnership with the other occupants of the WIC building, on the WIC Management Committee. Cost-effective custom designed and manufactured engineering solutions are provided to support a range of AWRI projects, with recent examples including extensive modifications to pilot-scale fermentation tanks to support research into the role of oxygen during red winemaking, and developing solutions to support trials of packaging materials and vineyard-based experiments. During the year the AWRI was subject to an external WHS review, for which the input of Treasury Wine Estates is gratefully acknowledged. Pleasingly, the outcomes of this review highlighted the AWRI’s strong commitment to workplace health and safety, while identifying a number of opportunities for incremental improvement in areas such as driver training, contractor management and records management, which have since been addressed.
The Company Secretary, Shiralee Dodd, assists the effective functioning of the AWRI Board while providing legal support to the management team and ensuring that the organisation continues to meet its legal obligations. A particular area of focus for the year was the implementation of a framework for regular policy review, with numerous AWRI policies updated and reviewed by management and/or the AWRI Board. In addition, the AWRI was successful in its application to the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, with recognition as a registered charity effective since1 January 2016.
During the year Adam Holland received a promotion to IT Manager, and marked this transition through the development of a three-year IT Strategic Plan. This plan is supported by the IT Strategic Reserve created by the AWRI’s directors during the previous financial year, as well as the AWRI’s status as a Microsoft Qualified Nonprofit Organisation which was confirmed this year. A number of significant milestones under this plan were completed during the year, including migration to the current versions of Microsoft operating platforms and applications, increased use of cloud-based services, improved storage, back-up and Wi-Fi capabilities and significant investment in desktop hardware. Feedback from AWRI staff has highlighted the significant value already delivered by these initiatives at an operational level.