Fight for health is Chal­lies’ new goal

Ryman Health­care’s boss to step down af­ter shock rev­e­la­tion

Weekend Herald - - BUSINESS - Anne Gib­son prop­erty ed­i­tor anne. gib­son@ nzher­ald. co. nz

Si­mon Chal­lies, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of the $ 4.2 bil­lion Ryman Health­care, likens his fight against de­bil­i­tat­ing Parkin­son’s disease to that fought by Muham­mad Ali.

Chal­lies, in his mid- 40s, re­called how Ali was di­ag­nosed with the disease but vowed to fight, and the health­care busi­ness boss from Christchurch said he was tak­ing pre­cisely the same ap­proach.

“Well, I’m go­ing to beat it! That’s my prognosis,” Chal­lies said laugh­ing. “I re­mem­ber read­ing Muham­mad Ali. He said his big­gest bat­tle was with Parkin­son’s and he was never go­ing to let it beat him. I re­mem­ber see­ing a spe­cial­ist in Ore­gon about five years ago and he said it might feel tougher at the time but . . . you have to eat well, keep fit, and chal­lenge your­self.”

Chal­lies made his shock an­nounce­ment at yes­ter­day’s full- year re­sults brief­ing in Auck­land, where the com­pany an­nounced an un­der­ly­ing profit of $ 178.2 mil­lion for the year ended March 31, say­ing he was stand­ing down at the end of next month for the sake of his health.

Talk­ing in an un­steady and rel­a­tively quiet voice, the man who has headed the busi­ness since 2006 told of aw­ful symp­toms in­clud­ing ex­haus­tion, an un­steady hand, trou­ble us­ing a key­board and a much weaker voice. But he kept his dry Cantabrian hu­mour, jok­ing about how touch­screens had been help­ful.

“It’s given me a pow­er­ful in­sight into our res­i­dents,” Chal­lies told the room of an­a­lysts and media, adding that only the board and close fam­ily mem­bers had known, and how his 2011 di­ag­no­sis came just be­fore a com­pany an­nual meet­ing at which he had to speak.

“I had the out­look of an 80- yearold a bit ear­lier. I had times when I had trou­ble brush­ing my own teeth, let alone us­ing a key­board.”

That made him re­ali se what some of the Ryman res­i­dents’ lives were like.

“It made me a lot more rounded CEO,” he said, telling how the busi­ness had changed with his in­sights “and that’s not go­ing to end with me step­ping down. “I keep my­self re­ally fit and work hard and am men­tally stim­u­lated so I’m not giv­ing up any­thing at the mo­ment. I’m just not go­ing to be hav­ing that huge com­mit­ment of man­ag­ing Ryman so I’m sad but I’m sort of ex­cited at the same time.”

In the front row sat his wife Tracey, who said af­ter­wards it was im­por­tant he take care of his health and that

would be the em­pha­sis in fu­ture.

“My health has de­te­ri­o­rated. I’ve no­ticed it in the last six months,” Chal­lies said.

“The job isn’t get­ting smaller. I’d love to stay longer but I can’t hon­estly say I’d do it jus­tice. It’s al­ways a chal­lenge pub­lic speak­ing. I re­mem­ber when I got di­ag­nosed was just the day be­fore the agm and I stood up at the agm and it must have been the most awk- ward pre­sen­ta­tion I’d ever given be­cause I felt so vul­ner­a­ble. You’re sort of self­con­scious. And it does fa­tigue you,” he said.

“But the man­age­ment team will laugh be­cause they see me work­ing longer hours than any of them and crazy hours, work­ing day and night. I feel like I’ve worked re­ally hard to com­pen­sate for this.”

Chal­lies kept his con­di­tion a se­cret from the mar­ket for six years be­cause Ryman did not want “mis­in­for­ma­tion” and hav­ing Parkin­son’s did not af­fect his day- to- day per­for­mance, he said.

Well, I’m go­ing to beat it! That’s my prognosis. Si­mon Chal­lies, Man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Ryman Health­care

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.