In good hands

Over two decades, retiring Managing Director Shane Goodwin has seen HIA grow into a thriving national association speaking out with a strong voice to governments and media.

After 22 years at HIA, the last nine as Managing Director and CEO, Shane Goodwin is retiring from the top job.

All of Shane’s working life has been centred in the building industry in one way or another. Qualifying as a lawyer, he recognised the significant risks inherent in running a building contracting business and has built his career around helping businesses across the building industry supply chain to better manage those risks.

With four decades of real world experience, Shane’s perspective on how the building industry and HIA have evolved – and will continue to evolve – provides Housing readers with some unique insights.

Shane joined HIA at the start of the organisation’s transformation from autonomous state-based operations, each with its own IT, accounting systems and member services. Shane led HIA’s legal and industrial relations services on joining HIA. He quickly became instrumental in the significant management challenge of shifting the operations into a national association, as well as shifting the culture of HIA staff and of HIA members, especially those involved in HIA’s committees and board.

Shane says ‘I was proud to be part of the team of senior management and volunteers who worked together collaboratively to make sure the transition was a great success and positioned HIA as the voice of the industry and the members’ indispensable business partner.’

While there were challenges along the way, Shane believes that ‘moving to become one coherent membership-focused organisation provided an essential foundation for HIA to grow into the successful multi-faceted business that it is today. HIA has been able to grow exponentially, in terms of membership, influence, revenue, and most importantly we were able to expand our range and quality of services to members.

‘The transformation of HIA in the 1990s also brought together what were different policy positions that the HIA states often held on the same issue. If I have learnt one thing in working with governments over many years, it’s that you cannot go to government looking for policy changes if the government is receiving different views from within the same organisation.

Shane Goodwin and Graham Wolfe
Current Managing Director, Graham Wolfe (left) and retiring Managing Director, Shane Goodwin (right)
National Board of Directors
HIA Board of Directors

‘The member-based policy committee structure that HIA introduced over 20 years ago has delivered this consistent policy view that is so important. The fundamental strength of this system is that the development of HIA’s policy positions comes from the membership.

‘With over 1000 members involved in HIA’s committees all feeding into a National Policy Congress there may be vigorous debate right across the committee network but at the end of the debate there is one HIA view that is then prosecuted. This has given HIA significant clout with all levels of government across many policy areas over many years.

‘And the policy debates will continue: it is a measure of the organisation’s maturity that these processes can go on but always with the underlying positions being driven by all the industry practitioners among the diverse membership,’ Shane says.

As well as a rock-solid commitment to member-based policy, Shane has also championed the importance of developing both HIA policy and its member services on the foundation of quality research. This is most apparent in the substantial investment that HIA has made over many years in its economic expertise. HIA’s policy development is frequently underpinned by the quality reports and research that HIA Economics undertakes.

Shane has applied this research-based philosophy to all areas of HIA’s endeavours.

‘We will not be able to help members manage their business risks in any area unless there is a firm basis for the information and advice that we provide. Whether it’s a member looking for an interpretation of an Australian Standard, a council’s housing code or how to respond to a safety issue, HIA has to have quality staff applying quality research to provide the answers. ‘Winging it’ isn’t good enough when we are helping members mitigate what could be very serious risks to their business and their livelihood.’
As HIA has changed during Shane’s time, so has the residential building industry.

‘I greatly appreciate the support I have been given by HIA members throughout the country'

‘HIA has had to respond to the changing shape of the industry over the years. The increasing importance of multi-unit housing, globalisation of the industry’s supply chain, financial innovation, increasingly demanding clients and the ever-expanding intrusion of regulation into the day-to-day operation of business. HIA has responded to all these issues. This dynamic isn’t going to stop: HIA has and will continue to be engaged across all of these issues but always with the underlying concern about their implications for how a member manages the risks in their business.’

HIA’s catch-cry is to be the ‘indispensable business partner’ for its members. In turning this aspiration into action, Shane has led the development of an expanded range of services and products for members.

‘Members are increasingly looking for ways to outsource aspects of their business to focus on their core work. I see HIA as providing a key avenue for members to outsource some of their risk management,’ Shane says.

Vigorous support for policies that improve the affordability of housing is part of HIA’s DNA. Shane has embraced this through his strident lobbying against ill-conceived populist policies that make housing more expensive.

‘Unnecessary increases in the cost of housing are not just bad for the residential building industry; they eat away at the capacity of Australians to be well housed and provide a stable base for everyone to participate effectively in our society.’

As he retires from HIA Shane will leave behind an organisation in great shape.

‘I greatly appreciate the support I have been given by HIA members throughout the country and in particular the many HIA staff that I have worked with over the years: they have been fabulous. I also wish my successor Graham Wolfe every success as he leads HIA into the future.’

While he will have more time for fishing and playing with old MGs, Shane will also find time to contribute to the Association as a non-executive director on HIA’s board. So his expertise, skills and strategy will not be lost to the organisation.

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