Vale Nigel Wardropper

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The PASA team is sad to announce that PASA’s Founder and Managing Director, Nigel Wardropper, passed away on the weekend.

Tragically, Nigel did not survive a major heart attack on Saturday 10th October whilst walking his dogs at the beach with his wife, Lesley.

Nigel leaves behind a thriving procurement community and a growing business that will continue to deliver outstanding events and thought-leadership into the future.

Achievements

It’s incredibly rare to meet an Australian or New Zealand procurement professional who doesn’t know of Nigel and Procurement and Supply Australasia (PASA).

Founded in 1999 soon after Nigel and his family moved to Australia from the UK, PASA provides procurement professionals, suppliers, and suppliers of support services to procurement with unrivalled opportunities to learn, network and engage.

Nigel was also the Founder and Managing Director of BTTB Marketing, started in 1999 to provide information, education and networking opportunities to travel category managers.

PASA is best-known for its prolific conference program serving the procurement community, including general procurement events, category or topic-specific events, and sector-specific events.

PASA also provides the region’s leading online publishing platform for procurement thought-leadership, opinion, advice, comment and news, along with an increasing number of complimentary webinars.

Always striving to be at the leading edge in terms of developing new ways for procurement professionals to learn, Nigel launched PASA CONNECT in 2016. PASA CONNECT provides members with a unique and cost-effective way to come together to learn, share and network around specific topics or categories.

Undaunted by COVID-19, Nigel launched PASA AGILE in 2020 to bring agile procurement coaching, consulting and training to the Australia and New Zealand procurement communities.

Outside of work, Nigel’s biggest interest was cricket; both as a player and a coach of kids’ cricket teams.

Looking forward

After a near-fatal motorbike accident two years ago, Nigel and Lesley prepared a rigorous business continuity plan for both PASA and BTTB. This plan has been enacted. This means that it’s “business-as-usual” for PASA, which although built by Nigel, was always something that he saw as bigger than himself and was designed to continue to grow.

Within the next few weeks there are three exciting, virtual conferences that are fully planned and ready to be executed by our capable and professional team, along with an outstanding group of guests and contributors. These are:

  • The 8th PASA Premier Confex: 28th October, with focus sessions in the following days.
  • BTTB Travel 2020: 5th November, with focus sessions in the following days.
  • ProcureTech ANZ: 18th – 19th November

Led by Jonathon Dutton, our ongoing and vibrant events programme already stretches into 2021 and includes PASA CONNECT, PASA AGILE, along with online PASA TRAINING. For information about any of these offerings, please get in touch with our Partner Success Manager, deanna@pasa.net.au.

Nigel’s wife Lesley, children Lachie and Yoni, and the PASA team are thankful for the outpouring of support and condolences from well-wishers in Australia, NZ, and the United Kingdom.

Update: the following words are an extract from the eulogy written by Nigel’s wife, Lesley Wardropper.

One particular tribute to Nigel stood out for me and that was the one that said – “Nigel was pretty special, wasn’t he?”  And yes, I think he was.

He was born in Newcastle Upon Tyne on 9 July 1961 to parents Nancy and Alan Wardropper. He was the middle brother to Michael and Alison and from the get go, seems to have been a larger than life personality.  Nigel told me that when he was a child, he used to love challenging the norm (and I have to say nothing much changed into his adulthood).  He would climb the curtains, find the most dangerous way to come down a slide, accept a dare to do what no one else dared to do. Why did he do this?  I guess because he could!

Nigel was educated at the prestigious Fettes College in Edinburgh, Scotland, – the same school as British PM Tony Blair attended, just a few years ahead of him. During his time at this boarding school, he developed a reputation for standing up for the underdog and would take on bullies (no matter what their size). These qualities of compassion, fairness and action continued throughout his life.

Nigel tells me that whilst at school, he hated the fact that rules were in place which often didn’t make sense to him. So, Nigel being Nigel, he questioned them, he challenged them and he tried to get them changed. In hindsight, perhaps not the best course of action when attending a traditional school. He parted ways with school a few weeks prior to sitting his A levels and decided that he would far prefer to enter the “university of life” as opposed to a traditional university – which he could have done standing on his head.

He embarked upon a series of jobs which could only suit Nigel – a door to door vacuum salesman, a car salesman before finally finding his niche, manufacturing and distributing car clamps in the North East of England, with his great friend and cricketing buddy, Nigel Campbell.

Now, I am ashamed to say I don’t know the exact date and year that I met Nigel, but I am guessing it would have been around August 1992 – I know he would be horrified to hear that I can’t remember the exact date, and he could put me right straight away by recalling the exact game of cricket he was playing on the night he met me, and more so, the score of that game and which players contributed to this score.

I do recall that I met Nigel on a night that my friend and I were dressed up to the nines going out for a night on the town, or toon as Nigel liked to call it,  but somehow we ended up in a disco at a laid-back cricket club at the back of Gosforth High Street. And there he was, my tall, dark, handsome stranger.

This cricket club, South Northumberland, was like a second home to Nigel and his family and is where he and I made some tremendous friends, had some magnificent midnight curries and created some joyful memories. I think it speaks volumes for the impact that Nigel, known as “Wards” to his teammates, had on this club, that they are organising a memorial for him together with a memorial bench which will sit alongside his late father’s bench – a fantastic tribute – thank you South North.

During the time that we first met, we had many happy holidays in Kenya at our good friends Judith and Alan’s house in Karen, Nairobi.  Seeing a different lifestyle and scenery made us challenge what we would like to see and do in the near future. By chance, I saw a job advert in The Sunday Times for a Sales Manager which sounded right up Nigel’s alley. True to form, he got the job and whilst he could have been placed anywhere in the world, we ended up in Sydney. We decided to tie the knot before leaving for our adventure and remarkably managed to organise and be married within 5 days of learning that he had the job. We would have been married 24 years ago last Sunday.

Nigel loved this time of his life, a new city, a new job and a new wife. His outgoing personality meant we made lots of new friends, who are still in contact and have written some heart felt tributes.

Our beautiful children, Lachie and Yoni, came along a couple of years after we settled in Sydney, and Nigel, as with everything he did, threw himself into becoming a doting and fun Dad.

Nigel was never one to work for someone else and the day we received our permanent residency, he took his boss out to lunch and told him he was starting his own business.  The rest is history – btTB was formed in 1999 and morphed into PASA – a force to be reckoned with within the procurement and supply community.

The testimonials to Nigel from the Procurement community have been nothing short of phenomenal.

  • a driving force
  • inspiring
  • passionate
  • one of a kind
  • kind, patient, generous
  • Forever grateful for the legacy he has left us

… and I could go on.

Whilst many small business owners were at a loss as to what to do when Covid restrictions hit, I think Nigel was at his most energised and creative, he just relished the challenge thrown at him.

Nigel has built a wonderful team at PASA who are exceptionally loyal and hard working. He has left us a great legacy to continue but it is very daunting for us to have to fill such big boots. I am reassured to know that I have Nigel’s good friends and colleagues, Jonathan Dutton and Tony O’Connor by my side together with Amy, Deanna, Hugo and Yoni.

On a personal level, Nigel was loving, funny, generous and caring with a wicked sense of humour. Whatever he did, he did with absolute passion – be this cricket (and how great that many of his cricketing buddies from Queens are here today). He loved his golf and I am not sure if many of you know, he was passionate about learning the keyboard and singing. I think if Lachie, Yoni and myself hear another chorus from Morning has broken – it will be too soon. He was also an avid Newcastle United supporter.

Another obvious passion of Nigel’s was his motorbike. Who else would dare to race around a track on only their third race at 275km per hour? Well Nigel did and he paid dearly for it – the near fatal crash took so much out of him but yet again, he applied his resilience and determination and amazed his doctors that not only was he alive, but he could walk and he recovered all of his mental faculties.

Nigel was a highly well read, intelligent and articulate man who loved conversation. I know that Lachie and Yoni are very much going to miss their chats with their dad, as will Andy Lickiss, Nigel’s cricketing pal. Andy always kept a chair ready for Nigel to sit and chat with him at Saturday cricket games.

Nigel had a tremendous capacity to retain facts and figures – woe betide anyone who got their facts wrong when in discussion with Nigel. He wasn’t one to suffer fools gladly.

Nigel achieved so much in a life cut too soon.  The phrase “In the end its not the years in your life that count, it’s the life in your years.

I do know that out of all of his achievements, the greatest two are our children, Lachie and Yoni, who have turned into beautiful young adults who Nigel was so very proud of.

About Author

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PASA (Procurement and Supply Australasia) is the leading provider of information, education and networking opportunities to procurement professionals throughout Australia and New Zealand. PASA supports the largest community of engaged procurement stakeholders in the region, through its renowned series of events, publications, training, awards and PASA CONNECT membership network. PASA is a trading name of BTTB Marketing Pty Ltd. BTTB Marketing has operated under the BTTB, CIPSA Conferences and PASA names for over twenty years. https://procurementandsupply.com/

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