Paul Parsons, Aotea Group Holdings

Our sponsorship is actively assisting in something that makes a difference, and that makes us feel like we can have some positive influence on the world around us.

That’s how Aotea Group Holdings CEO Paul Parsons sees the sponsorship money it provides the Otago Medical Research Foundation.

The funding was a deliberate move by the holding company when it was first formed, as a meaningful way of paying back.

Aotea has been around for many years but is now a holding company and the largest electrical contracting company in New Zealand, employing 1300 staff, with 250 apprentices.

“We have businesses in every province, and each local business supports a wide range of things important to them including sport teams and local communities." That still continues, but what we wanted to do when Aotea Group Holdings came together in 2010 was something on a national scale and something that was significant.

Our board debated various charities but realised supporting research into health was something that could provide cumulative value over many years as small projects grew into significant research and their results make the way into health care.

Our shareholders appreciate that we’re supporting the Otago Medical Research Foundation, and medical research foundations in Auckland and Canterbury, in a time that is tough for not-for-profit organisations – even a small amount over time adds up.

“Even saving one life and saving the grief for one family would make a difference, but potentially our investment is saving lots of lives.”

There is also value for Paul in hearing about the research – it’s not just handing money over, its understanding where it is going.

“Finding out about each researcher’s work – what they are doing and why, what problems they are wanting to solve – is rewarding. It’s stimulating for us to find out about things that we otherwise know nothing about – including some really ground-breaking research. And we’re active in that process, we’re part of their innovation and discovery.”

In a similar way, Paul sees his company as also being incubators; bringing together electrical and wiring services alongside energy advisory, all of which allow businesses to get off the ground. “We understand the importance of idea incubation.”

Paul and his work colleagues enjoy making it to the Foundation’s events and luncheons, bringing their clients along also to showcase the fundraising work being done.

“We’re proud to be part of that innovation, and of the future of medicine.”