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Xero chief Rod Drury among the world's elite

By Holly Ryan

New Zealander could win World Entrepreneur of the Year title in Monaco

Photo / HOS
Photo / HOS

From racing simulators to cocktails at the Minister of State for Monaco's hilltop house, the last few days have been a blur for Xero chief executive Rod Drury, who is in the principality competing for the title of World Entrepreneur of the Year.

Drury says for the most part, his time has been taken up with official meetings and interviews - this includes the highlight of meeting Mikael Hed, creator of the hit game Angry Birds.

Despite being busy he has also had time to see the sights of the "flash, well-dressed and professional" city.

"It's really humbling to be here. It's such a special part of the world and it's great to be here celebrating successes of business because that's really what these awards are - a celebration," Drury said.

With judging taking place tonight in Monaco, Drury said they were getting into the business end.

The awards, touted as the entrepreneurial version of the World Cup, have gathered 51 of the world's top entrepreneurs with combined revenues of more than US$32 billion ($38 billion), to compete for the title.

Event sponsors EY are confident Drury - winner of the NZ entrepreneur of the year award - has a good chance of winning the event. No Kiwi has won the international title.

According to EY communications manager Jenni McManus, whether Drury wins or not the event will still be an amazing opportunity for the businessman.

"It's the networking, it's the doors it opens, it's dealing with your peers, entrepreneurs at a similar stage as you are and sharing ideas, and it's the connections you make," McManus said. "The event is immensely rewarding."

With a string of successes and accolades added to the Xero repertoire this year, including the number one spot on the Forbes list of the world's most innovative growth companies, Drury is confident about his chances.

"The feedback from the judges so far is that we are one of the strongest businesses, and I think our message has really resonated with people which is great. As far as our chances go, though, you just don't know really until the day."

According to McManus, Drury will have just 10 to 15 minutes to sell the judges his business, career and life story and to convince them that he should win, although McManus doesn't believe this will be too hard for Drury who she says is a very good speaker. "We've got high hopes. We're all behind him and he's got a very good chance of winning, he's just done so well," McManus said.

The national award for Entrepreneur of the Year was a year-long process judged by a number of successful business people including previous winners.

Drury was presented with the award at a gala dinner in Auckland last October, with the judges noting the standard of finalists was getting higher every year. "It was a very tough decision for the judges this year, with some outstanding entrepreneurs. It was very competitive and a very tight finish." Drury founded Xero in 2006 and the company was floated on the stock exchange in 2007.

Since then its market value has soared to $3.8 billion as at yesterday's close of $29.41 a share. The award for the World's Entrepreneur of the Year will be announced tomorrow.

- NZ Herald

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