My very first job was selling hardware products door-to-door during my school holidays before moving on to work in a supermarket as a shelf-filler. Despite later leaving university as a qualified teacher, my first fulltime job was on the graduate training programme at Mars in the UK " in sales and marketing.
What did you learn from it?
Once I landed in a fulltime job I began to rapidly understand what my relative strengths and weaknesses were. I certainly remember learning many important lessons in those early days - including some particularly harsh ones that I will never forget. I also remember learning very early on about the importance of continual personal development and the importance of trying to find the sweet spot in your career between what you are good at, what you can earn money at and what you most passionately enjoy doing.
What was the best advice you got from your parents?
Always try to stay true to who are and what really matters in life regardless of the pressures you face. My dad was always fond of drawing from his favourite poem, Rudyard Kipling's If and, as I find myself saying to my sons, his observation was that you learn more about a person in times of failure or struggle than you do in times of success.
How will you relax over the summer break?
My summer break will be spent with my wife and three sons. We are heading to the South Island where we're planning to swim with the dolphins at Akaroa, drive over Arthurs Pass, stop by the Monteith's Brewery in Greymouth and hopefully make it to Doubtful Sound. We've also rented a house at Hahei later in January for some beach time.
What are the big challenges ahead for your company?
Driving responsible drinking behaviours and alcohol moderation is always top of our priority list at DB. In 2016, we'll continue to lead the way to advocate social change around the harmful use of alcohol. We'll also be working with our customers and partners to try to reinvigorate the hospitality industry following a difficult period. Hospitality is a huge employer and massive contributor to the economy, so this is an important challenge for us to help address.
And for the wider economy?
The economic recovery has been slower than most people thought. I think 2016 will continue to be challenging but will hopefully start to lift and build on a tough 2015. Looking around the world, I would still rather be in New Zealand right now, as plenty of other countries will do it much tougher. From my perspective, the big challenge for New Zealand and its economy remains how do we ensure we create a value-added premium brand of "NZ Inc". Quality and purity " together with the innovative Kiwi spirit - should be the calling card of all New Zealand products.
Personal or business highlight from 2015?
My personal highlight in 2015 was going cage-diving with great white sharks off the South Australia coast where I found myself extremely grateful for the exceptional Aussie cage-welding. On a business level, a key highlight was winning the Renewables Innovation Award from the Sustainable Business Network for our DB Export Brewtroleum biofuel, made from beer waste.