Leading questions: Phil O'Reilly

Business New Zealand chief executive Phil O'Reilly. Photo / NZ Herald
Business New Zealand chief executive Phil O'Reilly. Photo / NZ Herald

What did your parents do?

My mother was a geriatric nurse. (No, she wasn't old - well not till she was old if you know what I mean - she looked after old people.) My father was a marine engineer with a penchant for building lawnmowers from scratch. All good except they had the power of a V8 supercar. Great if you want to cut grass. Less good if you hit a rock and nearly decapitate the neighbour.

Did that or any other family influence play a big part in your career choice?

Both of my parents influenced my career choice. First because they let me study anything I wanted to at university. So I studied English and history - not great if you want to be an investment banker but good if you want to understand people and politics, which is what my job entails. Secondly, my father was president of a trade union so from a young age I was interested in labour relations. He told me to go and work for the employers because they paid better. And here I am.

If you hadn't gone into the business world, what do you think you'd be doing?

I was raised a Catholic and my parish priest suggested I should try to be NZ's first Pope. (A truly ridiculous thought if you know me well.) I've always been interested in race-car driving except I lack two essential capabilities - bravery and skill. So if I was doing anything else it would be a failed racing car driver.

- NZ Herald

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