Business Excellence Award winners: Darren McGarvie

By Katie Holland

Rotorua's 2012 Emerging Young Business Person of the Year has a passion for his adopted city and for business which is infectious.

For the past four years Darren McGarvie has been the BNZ Managing Partner for the Central Plateau, overseeing three BNZ Partners Centres and being the face of BNZ for commercial and rural clients from Turangi to Whakatane.

"I tend to meet our larger and more complex clients ... I've got a team of 30 so you get all the challenges with that, plus I see top-end clients, and deal with community and sponsorships."

Originally from West Auckland, the 37-year-old started at BNZ New Lynn 15 years ago straight out of university and has been with the bank ever since, apart from a year setting up a construction business with a friend. Having worked his way up to being one of just 11 managing partners across the country, there's no doubt his business CV impressed the award judges. But it's his efforts to nurture and bring together Rotorua business talent that may just have given him the edge over the other finalists.

In 2009, in the midst of the global financial crisis, he had the idea for Rotorua X - a networking group for generation X business professionals, who were not part of rotary or more established networking organisations.

"I didn't see anything that really resonated with the up-and-coming, that's why I called it Connecting Future Leaders," he said. "It was to provide a positive forum for people to be inspired but also to learn things."

Winning the award last month was validation that his extra efforts had not been in vain.

"For me, it was a wonderful acknowledgement that the things I had been doing, both as managing partner of BNZ but also in terms of things personally around Rotorua X and trying to drive the business community, was resonating with people ... and I was seen as being a leader."

Rotorua X has gone from strength to strength, with this year's highlight being the fashion show attended by 120 people. Mr McGarvie has no hesitation reeling off a list of successful Rotorua businesses run by those in their 20s and 30s, proof there's plenty of young talent in the city.

While keen for the group not to become too formal, he said he would like to see it develop into a voice for the younger generation on the city's business and political issues.

"Whether it be in terms of the district council, regional council or even Todd McClay and the Government, we have never really conveyed our views on things."

As the award winner, Mr McGarvie received 50 per cent off the first year of an MBA at Waikato University - but the busy father of three hasn't decided yet whether to take it up.

"At this stage, I don't know. It's something I've considered but it comes down to the commitment, with a young family .. I'm on the board of trustees at the kids' school [Kaharoa School] and I've also been appointed to the board of an exporting company in Tauranga so I'd have to drop something to make it work and I don't know how it would work for my career anyway."

Whatever comes next, Mr McGarvie looks set to remain a driving force in Rotorua business for the foreseeable future.


- Rotorua Daily Post

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