From rude and dismissive to flying high

Colleagues' cutting but frank comments, great bosses and mentors help shape a Blake leader.

Tell us about your childhood

I am the youngest of four boys, raised in Auckland. My dad was the eldest of 13 cousins and that led to family functions filled with noise, fun, arguments and chaos. We were also sport mad, whether that was getting up in the middle of the night to listen to the All Blacks, or playing cricket in our garage.

What was the best piece of career advice you ever received?

John Hart, who was at Fletcher Challenge, told me to "go and find my path in business" if that was what I was passionate about, as opposed to a career in law.

Tell us about a mentor.

There are so many for which I am grateful. David Irving, one of the founders of The Icehouse, has taught me so much. We have had our moments, but he is such a wise and generous man and loyal to the cause.

What was a low moment of your leadership journey and how did you deal with it?

Coming to a realisation that I was rude, dismissive and disrespectful. I got that from a 360 review of my peers and then reflected and realised they were 100 per cent right. Actually this was a great moment for me, because I realised I needed to change and I have. There are other moments like being kicked off two not-for-profit boards that helped shape and change me.

Who is the best boss you've ever had and what made them great?

One is Murray Bolton, who punted on me as his executive assistant at Skellerup. He was extraordinary in enabling loyalty, he believed in the philosophy that if it did not work the first time, then try again. He had incredible judgment when the pressure was on. Also Paul Duffy, who managed me at Fletchers. He is a remarkable leader and visionary.

What is a big goal that you have?

For The Icehouse to enable 1000 businesses, of international quality, to be created by 2020. We have enabled 350, so that is 650 more over the next eight years.

What wise advice would you give your 15-year-old self?

Think of your life as a storyboard. Spend the next 15 years picking up some core life and learning skills so, by the time you are ready to focus, you have skills and experience that will help you succeed and be happy. Don't go too narrow too early.

What is the best part about being a Blake leader?

It made me reflect that this was an opportunity, not an end point, and that when there are times that I might feel like being self-centred or complaining it helps give me the kick up the arse to get over myself.

Who is a New Zealand leader that you think has the 'Blake Factor'?

Shay Wright, who is leading our Icehouse unit focused on growing Maori business. He is young, passionate, driven and extraordinary in his potential.

Andy Hamilton

Andy Hamilton is the founding CEO of The Icehouse and joined the organisation as its first employee in 2001. He is also director of BigLittleBang, which creates a virtual world for 6- to 9-year-olds to socialise and learn about music. Andy is a councillor on the Japan-New Zealand Business Council and has been chairman of Incubators New Zealand and Angel Association New Zealand. He is a board member of Ice Angels and the Pacific Angel Business Network. Before joining The Icehouse, Andy was a lawyer, EA, sales and marketer and corporate VC. In 2009, Andy Hamilton received a Sir Peter Blake Leadership Award for his leading role in the formation of the business incubation and angel investment sectors in New Zealand.

- NZ Herald

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