Running start sets up day for telco chief

In association with the Sir Peter Blake Trust, we are talking to leaders about what they have learned, who inspires them and their proudest moments. Today: Chris Quin.

Chris Quin.
Chris Quin.

What does a typical day "at the office" look like?

I try to get in at 6am to go for a run, then I have an 8.30am daily meeting with my leadership team, followed by a mix of customer, team and business time. I generally finish about 6pm, when I'm in Auckland, but most weeks involve some travel, so who knows!

What has been a highlight of your leadership journey?

My time at Gen-i was pretty special. The whole journey, from the merger to the growth and success of that team, was a very satisfying time.

What was a low moment and how did you deal with it?

Letting a lot of customers down when the XT Network launched was definitely a low. But it was also an opportunity to get stuck in and truly lead and earn at least some trust from customers by dealing with it honestly.

Tell us about someone who has inspired or been a mentor to you?

Dr Mary Quin (or Aunty Mary as I know her) has been an important mentor for me. Mary is the new chief executive for Callaghan Innovation and the leadership and vision she's shown in business is nothing short of inspirational. She also showed inspiring courage when she was part of a tour group that was kidnapped in Yemen. Mary escaped and has since written a book about her experience. I am also inspired by Sir Ron Carter's simple, disciplined focus on excellence.

As a leader, how do you get people to support and share your vision?

By making a connection, giving clarity, taking action and helping team members feel that they can make a difference.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years' time?

Working in New Zealand in a meaningful leadership role and hopefully making a difference. Also watching two successful kids grow into whatever they want to be.

What is your favourite way to relax?

Motorsport. Supporting my son, managing his racing, watching it on TV and very occasionally driving myself!

If you could give your 15-year-old self some wise advice, what would it be?

Do what you enjoy the most. It's what you will be most successful at.

Who is a New Zealand leader in business that you admire?

Don Braid of Mainfreight, because he has managed to establish a strong local culture within the business, while keeping a firm emphasis on Kiwis getting out there and taking on global work.

Tell us something about yourself that might surprise people?

I ran a sub four-hour marathon in 2011. Although no one would believe it looking at me now!

Who would you love to invite over for dinner, living or dead?

Bruce Springsteen, Ayrton Senna, Bruce McLaren and Amelia Earhart.

What technology item do you think will have the greatest impact on NZ businesses in the next five years?

Two themes that will dramatically change how we live and work are mobility and speed. We are seeing a revolution when it comes to the way people use technology and the speeds they expect to be able to use it at. Many of us now say we are never not connected. This presents challenges but also huge and exciting opportunities.

Can you tell us about an NZ business you're particularly excited about?

I'm excited about any domestic business that has global aspirations. We need businesses that are capable, competent and successful, which have established themselves in New Zealand and are now looking to go global. The Sutton Group - an infant-formula maker in Auckland - is a great example of this type of business. It has grown significantly over the past 10 years and keeps innovating. What is your dream for New Zealand's future?That we grow many more internationally capable, competitive and successful New Zealand companies, so we can add economic growth to the other huge benefits of being Kiwi.

•This Wednesday, from 12.30-1.30pm, as part of Sir Peter Blake Trust Leadership Week, and in association with The Icehouse, Chris Quin will be part of a Live Business Lunch forum discussing "How great leadership can lift business performance". To watch the event via a live online broadcast courtesy of Telecom, see

Chris Quin

Chris Quin was appointed chief executive of Telecom's retail business in October last year and is accountable for the performance of Telecom's consumer and SME markets, which deliver around half of the company's revenue and earnings. The retail team comprises 2400 people, including partners in Manila. Mr Quin has been a member of the Telecom leadership team since 2008 and is also chairman of business incubator, The Icehouse. In July 2010, he was the recipient of a chairman's award at the Tuanz Innovation Awards. That same year, he received a Sir Peter Blake leadership award in recognition of his leadership achievements and contribution to New Zealand.

- NZ Herald

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