What the CEOs are saying - Mike Bennetts

Mike Bennetts, chief executive of Z Energy. Photo / NZH
Mike Bennetts, chief executive of Z Energy. Photo / NZH

Mike Bennetts Z Energy

Over the next 12 months, Mike Bennetts' top three priorities for Z Energy are:

• Growing customer satisfaction

• Improving returns on capital employed

• Developing more competitive advantages.

Z Energy was formed when two New Zealand companies got together to buy Shell NZ's downstream business.

The business has stakes in the country's only oil refinery and supplies fuel and bitumen to commercial customers.

Bennetts' believes his biggest achievement in the past 12 months has been achieving a sustained and strong safety record.

He is concerned about the RMA - "delays in approvals of the lengthy appeal processes and the consequential costs of these."

Bennetts would like to see lower compliance costs and fee structures and more Government investment in:

• Initiatives to support innovation and commercialisation of IP

• Promotion of New Zealand exports in overseas markets.

Another important issue for international competitiveness is "retaining the most talented Kiwis in NZ, rather than having them drift offshore and not return."

Bennetts says he is kept awake by:

• Sourcing and retaining skilled staff

• Competitive pressures

•Regulatory challenges.


Frances Benge Pfizer

Frances Benge would like to see greater transparency of pharmaceutical funding decisions and an extension of effective patent life for innovative products. "The Pharmac model and exemption from the Commerce ACT results in a disadvantage for the pharmaceutical industry investment in NZ."

Benge is successfully managing Pfizer in a complex local market. Pfizer employs around 160 people across pharmaceutical, nutrition and animal health businesses.

Benge is planning strategic changes in the next 12 months including organisational structure, optimising digital infrastructure, outsourcing of call centre functions and driving engagement through social media.

Her top priorities for the next 12 months are to manage:

• Revenue decline as products, lose patent and limited pipeline

• OPEX reduction and loss of jobs

• Talent retention.

Benge cites one challenge for the pharmaceutical business to remain competitive from New Zealand is a universal acceptance that investing in medicines is an inexpensive healthcare option which ensures that people stay in the workforce longer.

The company related factors to keeping Benge awake at night are:

• Achieve top-line revenue growth

• Competitive pressures

• Changing organisational culture

• Demonstrating the value of the NZ organisation - preventing local resources being outsourced.


John Roberts Veda NZ

John Roberts has a clear message for the Government: "John Key needs to stop worrying about winning the next election, and develop and execute against a strategy that is going to drive NZ back into international growth. Compare our growth to a similar-sized country like Singapore and it is very unimpressive."

Veda provides personal and business credit reporting services in New Zealand and Australia. Roberts is less optimistic about the business prospects for his industry in New Zealand compared to a year ago.

"The the market from our perspective is still very flat, we are driven by the credit demand cycle."

He wants to see more support from government agencies such as NZTE - "instead of them being a business prevention unit". The debate over the GCSB and privacy concerns Roberts. "We are a data company regulated by the Privacy Act - this is a big issue for us."

The business-related issues that keep him awake at night are:

• Cost reduction and competitive pressures

• Managing profit expectations and achieving revenue growth

• Regulatory challenges.

His best achievement in the past 12 months was signing a new joint venture in the Middle East. Roberts's top three priorities for the next 12 months are:

• Right-sizing the NZ business model

• Launching new products

• Developing Veda's offshore partnerships in the Middle East and Asia.


Mike Bayley Bayleys Corporation

Mike Bayley says the one change he would like see to improve New Zealand is to "address this issue around families - specifically child neglect and child abuse."

"It is intolerable that in a country recognised globally as the promised land that we allow mistreatment of our young within our society.

"The young are the future of our country."

Bayleys is one of New Zealand's largest real estate companies dealing with the sale and management of residential, commercial, industrial and rural property.

Bayley's best achievement in the last 12 months was the significant acquisition of complementary businesses.

His top business priorities for the next 12 months are to :

• Increase profit margins

• Diversify service offering

• Grow scale and scope of revenue.

Bayley recognises the retention of talent within New Zealand business is essential to maintain competitiveness internationally.

"This means New Zealand needs to be recognised by future generations as the best place in the world to live and to do business.

"Wage growth and employment opportunities are a pre-requisite."

The company related issues that sometimes keep Bayley awake at night are:

• Sourcing and retaining skilled staff

• Managing profit expectation.


Jane Sweeney Porter Novelli

Jane Sweeney's best achievement in the past 12 months was attracting talent into the business, with Kiwis returning from overseas to take up roles.

The company is providing a working environment to attract Gen Y and Millennials and meet the diversity challenge, including job sharing and part-time options at senior executive level, extended leave options, less rigid working environments, use of personal social media at work, open plan environments and hot-desking.

Porter Novelli is a global public relations company with 90 offices in 60 countries.

The top business priorities for the next 12 months are:

• Embedding a new team

• Attracting new business

• Doing excellent work.

Sweeney notes the biggest factor to assist Porter Novelli to remain internationally competitive from NZ is, "multi-national corporations having substantial operations in New Zealand and offshore investors doing deals here."

Sweeney would like the Government to invest more in:

• Initiatives to support innovation and commercialisation of intellectual property

• Promotion of New Zealand exports in overseas markets

• Dealing with issues of poverty and inequality in our society - it shouldn't happen in a civilised country.

- NZ Herald

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