Keith Ketheeswaran, Director Governance and Performance Assurance for The GEO Group Australia Pty Ltd, is retiring this week.
Keith is respected as a doyen in Australia’s quality industry and has been a long serving director for Australia’s largest and most respected private operator of prisons, GEO. I met Keith in the mid 1990’s when he was Managing Director of QAS (now SAI Global) and even back then he led the charge for organisations to embrace risk management in their decision making.
In 1998, Australasian Correctional Management Pty Ltd (ACM) engaged TQCSI to certify their quality management system across a network of six immigration detention centres they managed for the Australian Government and the Auckland Central Remand Centre. In 2003, ACM morphed into The GEO Group Australia Pty Ltd (GEO) and TQCSI continued to provide management system auditing and certification services. In January 2005, Keith joined GEO and was responsible for ensuring the Group’s compliance. Over the years, GEO has grown and it now manages five prisons throughout Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, including Australia’s largest and most modern Ravenhall Correctional Centre in Melbourne.
Managing compliance across three jurisdictions is no mean feat and is something GEO does particularly well, largely due to the professionalism of its management team led by Keith. Moreover, prisons are a growing industry and people seem eager to visit and stay! This growth places stress on prisons where there is seemingly never enough beds. Those prison facilities are designed for a certain number of guests and when governments are forced to increase the number of beds to significantly more than what they were designed for, it causes considerable strain. When the managerial workload for a 1000 bed prison is increased to cater for 1500 guests, you can imagine the difficulties. The number of guards can be increased but it’s almost impossible to increase the infrastructure to meet that demand, particularly in any reasonable timeframe. And yet the guests keep coming!
The result is that our prisons are stretched at a time when jurisdictions require extraordinary performance in a world where social media can exaggerate issues and alter public perception. Enter the likes of Keith Ketheeswaran, whose job it has been to ensure GEO’s Correctional Centres comply with each State Government’s contractual performance.
Keith has always impressed those who meet him with his intellect, pleasant nature and sage advice. He balances contractual demands and organisational performance through a total embracement of contemporary management theorem, particularly risk management, and mentoring of each Centre’s Contract Compliance Manager (CCM) who is tasked to maintain governance at the coal face. Testament to Keith’s superb management skills is the personal growth of those CCMs, all of whom would agree with my comments about Keith.
After 20+ years, TQCSI continues to certify GEO’s integrated management system, which now embraces quality, environment, workplace safety, food safety, asset management and information security; and it is a pleasure to work for such a professional outfit and, particularly, report to Keith.
Apparently, Keith is approaching his 65th birthday and has decided to retire – he will be sorely missed by his work colleagues, clients and contractors like TQCSI. He intends travelling with his wife and enjoying some relaxation but I expect we will still hear from Keith from time to time. And when we do, it might be a good idea to listen and heed his advice. Have a wonderful retirement old friend.
Craig Bates, Managing Director of TQCSI.