Auswide CEO a victim of business climate change

A PROTRACTED and significant contraction in Auswide's business has claimed a scalp at the highest level.

CEO Kevin Stevens, who has been with the organisation for about 20 years, has had his services terminated, with the organisation saying it can no longer justify the high-level position in the current business climate.

In a recent statement, Auswide chairman Peter Terry confirmed Mr Stevens' departure and said the organisation has been faced with a significant contraction of business over the last 18 months because of its failure to win government-funded programs.

In two years it has seen its workforce slashed from 200 employees to 100.

The board is considering future options for the organisation, which may include merging with a similar but larger organisation.

Board director Libby Hepburn said Auswide has been downsizing and, in order to continue development of current programs, the model might benefit from being managed by a larger organisation. 

“First contacts have been made by several similar organisations,” Ms Hepburn said. 

She said the board is currently pursuing these interests to see if Auswide will benefit from a mutual merger, and the role of the board is to find the best fit.

However, it is not all bad news at Auswide Projects, as Ms Hepburn said there will be new opportunities at the marketplace due to the way things are changing. 

Mr Terry also reassured staff.

“From an operational perspective it is business as usual,” he said.

“Auswide is planning to make the best of current opportunities, not only for the company itself, but also to how the community at large can benefit from the services both new and existing that Auswide will provide going forward.”

The board has appointed Tracy Hicks as senior manager of operations in an acting capacity.  

Ms Hicks has been the corporate services manager for Auswide and prior to this has held executive positions at the Bega Valley Shire Council, federal and ACT governments.  

Meetings have been held with all staff regarding the announcement and there will be communication and contact with Auswide key stakeholders in the coming days and weeks.

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