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Ballantyne reveals why she left Sovereign

Naomi Ballantyne's departure from Sovereign was a 'personal affront' to ASB boss Ralph Norris.

Wednesday, December 5th 2001, 7:20AM

by Philip Macalister

Naomi Ballantyne, the head of Club Life, reveals her true reasons for leaving Sovereign Assurance in a just released book Reality is Crazy.

Ballantyne was one of Sovereign's first employees and rose through the ranks to become chief operating officer.

When ASB Bank took over Sovereign, Ballantyne was earmarked as being the successor to managing director Ian Hendry.

While she enjoyed the complete confidence of Hendry and fellow Sovereign founder Chris Coon, ASB Bank's masters viewed the situation quite differently.

"It was made very clear to me that I was not going to be Ian's successor," she says in the book.

Ballantyne goes on to say that ASB clearly didn't expect her to leave the company otherwise they would have put a restraint of trade on her.

Because they didn't she was able to leave the company and immediately embark on establishing a rival life company, Club Life, which is essentially Sovereign Mark 2.

"I think they feel silly about that now," she says.

In Reality is Crazy, author Ian Brooks, says that Ballantyne couldn't stand the clash between corporate and entrepreneurial cultures.

"I just couldn't stomach it any more," Ballantyne is reported as saying.

Ballantyne's departure was difficult for the Sovereign staff as she was considered loyal and hard-working, however, ASB Bank's former chief executive Ralph Norris is reported to have considered Ballantyne's actions in setting up a new company in competition as '"a personal affront."

Coon meanwhile, felt Sovereign should have had a stake in Club Life as the new business "could potentially do a lot of damage of Sovereign."

Read Ralph Norris's response here

 


Buy a copy of Reality is Crazy from the Good Returns' bookstore to find out more about the inside story of Sovereign's first 12 years of operation. It's a great read which involves some of the less well-known, but near fatal battles management had to fight, plus it includes interviews with all the key players who have had something to do with Sovereign over the years.

You can order your copy of this book by either clicking here or calling Tollfree 0800-345675.

You can read Philip's blog here: http://www.goodreturns.co.nz/blog/

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