New CEO says turnaround will take time

The soon-to-be acting chief executive at Aoraki Polytechnic is confident it can be turned around in a year.

Alex Cabrera is the deputy chief executive but will take over as acting chief executive when Kay Nelson finishes in three months, after resigning last week.

He takes over the role on the back of the polytech council appointing independent adviser Malcolm Inglis to look at the future of the polytech and present options to the council later this month.

This followed Aoraki suffering a loss of $1.6 million last year and facing a projected loss of $2.1m this year, as well as forecasting 328 fewer equivalent fulltime students this year than budgeted for.

Mr Cabrera said yesterday it was realistic to expect the polytech to be in a sustainable position in a year.

"The end of next year is a realistic time frame to realign the business. In education we work in the cycle of an academic year.

The job is to focus on realigning the business with the new environment, which includes changes to the [Government's] funding policy and also ensuring the polytech is relevant to the community."

While it would be a challenge, "open and honest" communication would be key, he said.

"People are a big part of what we do and they are part of the solution as well. We will be focused on assessing costs and continuing to provide good quality education."

Mr Cabrera moved to Timaru in 2010 with his wife and three daughters. Previously he worked for the University of Canberra as an executive director responsible for planning and development.

Of Spanish descent, he was born in Uruguay and went to university in Spain to study systems analysis and IT. All of his work since has been in the education sector, in Japan, the United Kingdom, Australia and Christchurch.

The Timaru Herald