To the shock of the sector, Ryman Healthcare Managing Director Simon Challies announced that he would be standing down on June 30 for health reasons.
Simon was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2011 but has continued in the role since then with the full support of the board.
“I first noticed the symptoms about a decade ago, but it was still a huge shock to get my diagnosis in 2011,’’ Simon said. “I’ve been determined not to let it beat me.’’
“This is a demanding job, and I’ve realised this year that my health was deteriorating and it was taking too great a toll on me personally, and on my family.’’
“I’m a great optimist and I think having Parkinson’s has made me a better MD of a healthcare company than I otherwise might have been. It has given certainly me a degree of empathy and insight into the challenges our residents face, and it has taught me to make every day count. I’m sad to be leaving Ryman, but I’m looking forward to spending more time with my family and being able to contribute to the community in other ways.’’
“I’ve had an incredible 18 years at Ryman and I am really proud of what the team has achieved together. The time is right to hand over to Gordy who I know has the same passion as I have for looking after our staff and residents. We have a very strong and loyal management team and the company is in great shape for the huge growth we see ahead.’’
He thanked the board and his colleagues for their support.
“I’d also like to thank all our residents, families, shareholders, staff, and all our suppliers and contractors for your support and trust over the years. I know I’m leaving the company in safe hands.’’
Simon joined the company as chief financial officer in 1999, and took over as chief executive in 2006 from Ryman co-founder Kevin Hickman.
During his tenure Ryman Healthcare’s portfolio of villages has grown from 12 to 31. He led the company through the Global Financial Crisis, the Christchurch earthquakes and oversaw its expansion into Melbourne.
Gordon MacLeod, Ryman’s Deputy Chief Executive and CFO, will take over as Chief Executive on June 30. Gordon joined Ryman as CFO 10 years ago, and was promoted to Deputy Chief Executive in 2014.
Simon will continue as an advisor to the board until December 2018.
Ryman Chairman Dr David Kerr thanked Simon for his leadership and the enormous contribution he had made to the success of Ryman.
“It’s a sentinel moment for everyone at Ryman. Simon has been a wonderful colleague. He’s professional, hard-working, creative, passionate and highly energised.’’
“He has been a Managing Director who has never hesitated to walk the floor in the villages, and is widely known as ‘Simon from Ryman’. This title conveys the fact that he is deeply interested in what this company does, the people it cares for, and the people it employs. Not only is he interested, but he is approachable in a way that is unusual in such a large company.’’
He said Simon had hit every stretch target the board had set for him, except for taking any extended leave. Ryman’s growth had been extraordinary under his leadership, which had been recognised by his success in a number of awards, including being named Deloitte Top 200 Executive of the Year in 2014.
“These moments or transitions are never easy, but this has been made much easier by the attention to succession planning that has been given by Simon.’’
He said the board was delighted that Gordon MacLeod was stepping into the role.
“Gordy has shown a deep understanding and appreciation of the business and what we do as a company. He has that great balance of both the right cultural fit for the role and the right skill set to lead this growing company and I know the Board look forward to working with him in the future.’’
David Bennett, who joined Ryman four years ago as Financial Controller, will be Gordon’s successor as CFO.