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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 2 (June 1, 1928)

A Remarkable Career

page 5

A Remarkable Career

The return of Mr. H. H. Sterling to the Railways in the position of General Manager may be regarded as the culminating point in a remarkable career. It is only about two years since he retired from the Railway Board of Management to take up an appointment as General Manager of the N.Z. Co-operative Dairy Company. He is now recalled at the special request of the Prime Minister to take sole control of the N.Z.R.

Born at Christchurch in 1886, Mr. Sterling was educated in the primary schools of his home town, winning a Board of Education Scholarship which took him to the Christchurch Boys’ High School.

Upon leaving the High School he joined the Railway Service and was, at the time of his resignation, in the 25th year of his service. After about six years of general station work in Canterbury, Mr. Sterling spent some years in the District Manager's Office in Dunedin. During that time he studied at the Otago University, graduating LL.B., in 1917, and was admitted as a Barrister and Solicitor. He also studied Economics and Advanced Mental and Moral Philosophy. In 1919 Mr. Sterling was appointed Law Officer of the Department, and in 1924 was made Assistant General Manager.

(S. P. Andrew, photo) Mr. H. H. Sterling, General Manager of Railways.

(S. P. Andrew, photo)
Mr. H. H. Sterling, General Manager of Railways.

He was later appointed a member of the Board of Management and placed in immediate control of the Commercial, Legal, Land, Statistical and Rating (Tariff) Branches.

Mr. Sterling's career in the Railways has been quite exceptional, he having attained to one of the highest and most responsible positions at an unusually early age. This indicated a standard of ability much above the average. His choice for the position of General Manager of the New Zealand Co-operative Dairy Company, and the reluctance that Company has shown in parting with his services, give a clear indication of their appreciation of his business ability. Mr. Sterling was largely responsible for the present railway tariff, and the fact that this tariff was carried through and agreements arrived at with all the large interests affected, no doubt materially contributed to secure to Mr. Sterling the confidence of the commercial community.

Mr. Sterling's work in developing the Commercial Branch has been a great factor in effecting the remarkable change for the better that has taken place in the attitude of the commercial community and the public generally towards the Railways. That spirit of service will be further inspired by his return. His appeal for co-operation published in this issue, is assured of a hearty response throughout the Service. Referring to Mr. Sterling's appointment the Prime Minister states:—

“As was to be expected, the Government found it necessary to very materially raise the standard of the position of the head of such a large undertaking in order to attract a man with the requisite commercial training, but had no desire to unduly inflate the cost of management. This difficulty has to a large degree been overcome by reverting to the previous system of management by one general manager, and the Government has been successful in securing the services of Mr. H. H. Sterling.”