South Auckland student Lar Su'a has been named the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants' Young Managing Director of the Year for leading a team helping local children live healthier lives.
Su'a, 17, is managing director of Caring & Co, launched by five Manurewa High School colleagues a year ago as part of the Young Enterprise Scheme.
They created their own Extra Virgin Olive Oil - Unique Drizzle. Every bottle sold funded one local child through the Life Education Trust programme.
"Lar's democratic leadership has enabled this passionate young team to achieve an outstanding community-based business success," says NZICA chief executive Terry McLaughlin.
"He has led from behind, encouraging and supporting each member of the team and empowering them to work together to make decisions."
For Lar, Caring & Co's success - including selling enough Unique Drizzle to fund a whole local primary school through the trust - is based on the team spirit of equality. "I made it clear from the start that if we want the company to move forward, we must all feel equal on the team, so we can share our ideas, views and make the decisions needed to progress."
And he's not afraid to stand up when tough decisions are needed. "It's challenging having to be the bad guy sometimes but, at the end of the day, there are deadlines to meet. Because we are all equals, everyone is accepting of my criticisms."
Lar plans to pursue a career in business starting with tertiary study next year. Meanwhile, he will continue as managing director of Caring & Co, which has more than tripled its stocks of olive oil to help hundreds more South Auckland children.
Also part of the Caring & Co team are Kugna Flynn, marketing director; Ryan King, production/communications director; Kayla Picknell, marketing director; Guang Liu Chu, financial director.