Work harder and you'll get luckier: Edgar

An admirer of John Key and a supporter of good causes, Sir Eion's dream is to rid NZ of diabetes.

Sir Eion Edgar is upbeat about New Zealand's future.
Sir Eion Edgar is upbeat about New Zealand's future.

How would you describe your childhood?

I was born in Dunedin and educated at Andersons Bay Primary School, John McGlashan College and the University of Otago. My parents, while not well off, were very supportive and encouraged my sister and myself to have a go at a variety of activities. I did not do very well at secondary school and struggled to get both School Certificate and University Entrance on my second attempts, as I was more interested in playing sport. However I did much better at university, as I loved commerce.

What was your first job?

My parents encouraged us to work during school holidays and I remember my first job was as a "gofer" on a building site when I was 12.

How would your colleagues describe you?

Hopefully as hard-working, energetic and always willing to help them.

What does a typical day at work look like?

I spend about a third of my time on Forsyth Barr business, a third on private business and the balance on raising money for good causes.

Who is the best manager you've ever had or employed?

I have been fortunate to have several great chief executives. Graeme Fogelberg and David Skegg at the University of Otago, Barry Maister at the NZOC and Neil Paviour-Smith at Forsyth Barr.

What has been a highlight of your leadership journey?

There have been many. But probably being the chancellor of the University of Otago. Also being involved with the substantial growth of Forsyth Barr, from a staff of six in one office to now close to 300 employees in 19 offices.

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

Losing my father when I was 31. However it forced me to make many tough decisions, which probably helped me in later life.

What annoys you?

People who are not prepared to work hard and wealthy people who are not prepared to contribute to good causes.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?

Hopefully still being able to contribute to good causes and, with my wife Jan, seeing our children and grandchildren succeed.

Who is a leader that you admire?

John Key. He is decisive and speaks well on a great variety of subjects, both in New Zealand and overseas.

Who is the most exciting or famous person you've ever met?

Through my Olympic involvement I have been fortunate to meet many famous people including Michael Jordan, George Bush, Barack Obama and Tony Blair, but probably the most inspirational was Sir Peter Blake.

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

There are several but Rob Fyfe and Grant Dalton are two good examples.

If you were marooned on a desert island, which four people would you want to join you?

My wife, Mick Jagger, Prince Harry and Josh Emett.

What are the items of technology that you can't live without?

My iPad and iPhone as they make keeping up so easy.

What is a big dream that you have currently?

To rid New Zealand of diabetes.

And your dream for New Zealand's future?

The future looks excellent with a well-educated, multicultural society.
What is the best part about being involved with the Sir Peter Blake Trust?

Being on the selection panel, we are privileged to learn about many outstanding leaders and then have the very hard decision of selecting the winners. I think we have done well to date.

When you look back on your life, for what are you grateful?

For my great parents and sister, my wonderful wife, and three fine sons who are doing well and have great wives and children.

If you could give your 15-year old self some wise advice, what would it be?

The harder you work, the luckier you get.

Sir Eion Edgar, KNZM

As chairman of Forsyth Barr, Sir Eion Edgar has extensive corporate experience in New Zealand. He is also chairman of the Edgar Olympic Foundation, Queenstown Resort College and the Winter Games NZ Charitable Trust and is a director of Martinborough Vineyard Estates and Fundit Holdings. Sir Eion is a trustee of the Arts Foundation, the Carisbrook Stadium Trust, the Halberg Trust and the Skeggs Foundation. He was formerly chancellor of the University of Otago and chairman of the New Zealand Stock Exchange. He was also formerly a director of the Reserve Bank, the Accident Compensation Commission and Royal & SunAlliance New Zealand. Since 2005, Sir Eion has been a member of the Sir Peter Blake Leadership Awards selection panel.

- NZ Herald

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