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 the Group Manager – Corporate Services, Chris Day, had as its most significant achievement during the year confirmation by the South Australian Government that the AWRI had satisfied the requirements for a charitable exemption from payroll taxes in that state. This achievement (greatly assisted by the AWRI’s advisors PricewaterhouseCoopers) is the result of significant efforts which began in 2012, and in addition to a retrospective element will further deliver considerable operational savings on an ongoing basis.
Other finance activities encompassed financial management, budgeting and reporting including to the AWRI Board, funding organisations and government.
Alfons Cuijvers, the Human Resources Coordinator, completed his first full year in an expanded role, with his responsibilities encompassing a broad range of recruitment, employment contract management, visa, payroll and compliance activities. A range of employee well-being initiatives were also delivered, including the opportunity for all staff to participate in a ‘healthy heart’ assessment. A substantial refresh of the AWRI’s Employer of Choice program also commenced during the year, based on staff feedback. Professional development opportunities for many AWRI employees were significantly assisted by the AWRI’s directors, many of whom elect for the organisation to retain their directorship fees specifically to support such activities.
The Operations Manager, Mark Braybrook, manages and attends to 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 supplied throughout the organisation. Examples this year included scaled tanks, fittings and associated infrastructure for research on wine lees; tank and sampling device modifications for research on wine and oxygen; and infrastructure requirements for the installation of the new inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (ICP-MS). Considerable effort continues to be invested in addressing the WHS requirements of the organisation.
The Company Secretary, Shiralee Dodd, oversaw the successful transition to an electronic ballot process for the 2014 election of directors to the AWRI Board (held in October 2014). This revised process realised significant cost savings and other efficiencies, with the election itself returning three new directors who took office during 2015. Other corporate governance activities included the provision of a comprehensive induction program for these new directors, and the development and implementation of a robust and efficient framework for policy review throughout the organisation.
The IT Coordinator, Adam Holland, further progressed the AWRI’s strategy to standardise, centralise and virtualise its IT assets and environment. The year’s most significant activity was a network access protection project developed in response to the growing workplace trend of employees wishing to use personally owned IT assets in the workplace (‘Bring Your Own Device’). Further enhancements were implemented or are being trialled in areas of backup infrastructure and processes, the AWRI virtual and physical server environment, email security and the delivery of Microsoft programs. These efforts will continue to yield further improvements to productivity, and assist in the ongoing cost-effective delivery of IT solutions.