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John O’Flaherty

Statewide Super has shed 25 positions, including the role held by former interim CEO and head of client services Bill Watson and two other executives, throughout a year-long internal review.

Three executive roles covering business development, marketing, governance and operations were made redundant in the course of the past year, and nine administration roles were cut in December 2010, confirmed John O’Flaherty, CEO of the $2 billion SA fund.

Through “a process of attrition”, 25 roles positions were reviewed and made eliminated through redundancies or terminations in the past year as Statewide aimed to reduce costs and gain efficiency, O’Flaherty said, adding that the fund’s headcount now numbered 100.

In the review, which O’Flaherty instigated shortly after joining Statewide as CEO, the executive roles were made redundant as particular tasks were “collapsed” into others.

For example, O’Flaherty, who was keen to gain some “direct involvement” in business development and client-facing work, assumed these responsibilities from Watson as Nicolle Rantanen took on additional back-office duties to become general manager of finance, systems and operations.

However the fund’s four-person investment team, in which CIO Con Michalakis is supported by senior and junior investment analysts, remained unchanged.

Since the self-administering fund aimed to bring its back-office costs “in line with the rest of the industry”, it cut nine administration roles in December 2010.

”I come from an administration background, so it wasn’t hard to work out that we had a few too many people,” O’Flaherty, a former general manager of Super SA, said.

Meanwhile, since exiting Statewide in October 2010, Watson has changed tack: under the company name Monkey’s Fist, he has started work as an independent management consultant to businesses in the industries in which he has professional experience: superannuation, construction and maritime.

Current projects include consulting to a construction project on the oil- and gas-rich North-West Shelf off the northern WA coast, and also to maritime businesses in Sydney.

A ‘monkey’s fist’ is a type of knot used by sailors as a weight in a heaving line. “We do the heavy lifting from the front,” Watson explained.

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