Prestigious award for Otago Polytechnic

Otago Polytechnic chief executive Phil Ker (left) receives the performance excellence award from...
Otago Polytechnic chief executive Phil Ker (left) receives the performance excellence award from Business Excellence NZ chief executive Errol Slyfield. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
An emotional Otago Polytechnic chief executive, Phil Ker, accepted the Baldrige-affiliated Performance Excellence Study Award on behalf of the tertiary education provider this week following a decade-long effort.

"I was absolutely over the moon. It was 10 years in the making," Mr Ker said after the ceremony in the Hub on Forth St on Wednesday.

"[The award] is up there with the most prestigious awards in the world, basically.

"One of the speakers was one of the evaluators. He said
`What you need to know is that your organisation didn't just achieve this award, you are up there with the best organisations in the world'."

The polytechnic was one of the first organisations in New Zealand to undergo an assessment process comparable to that for the United States Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, and to reach the required standard, polytechnic deputy chief executive Jo Brady said.

Administered by Business Excellence NZ (endorsed by the American Society of Quality), the award involves rigorous examination by United States-based examiners against seven core Baldrige performance excellence criteria to determine organisational excellence by world-class standards.

The US Baldrige Performance Excellence Program was one of the most widely internationally recognised frameworks for business excellence.

Globally, many countries operate national quality awards aligned with Baldrige, or have similar core criteria.

Key performance indicators and/or highlights noted by the examiners included the polytechnic's strong organisational vision and culture of excellence, high levels of student satisfaction and employer satisfaction with polytechnic graduates, and sound financial performance and growth in overall EFTs/enrolments.

The journey towards the award recognition was initiated more than a decade ago by Mr Ker, who had a vision of developing and embedding a culture committed to continuous improvement, Ms Brady said.

The award-winning application was Otago Polytechnic's fourth attempt, the institution making its first award submission in 2012.

"After each submission, we receive immensely valuable feedback, which guides our improvement action plans," Joanne Greatbanks, the director for performance improvement, said.

"Otago Polytechnic is passionate about providing our learners with a `Wow!' experience. In order to continue to put our learners at the centre of everything we do, we need to continuously evolve, drive and innovate."

Ms Brady said the polytech now had a globally recognised award and remained committed to continuous improvement.

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