A Kiwi businessman with a CV that boasts top positions at Microsoft, General Motors, Carter Holt Harvey and the Mitt Romney presidential campaign has shared his opinions at an intimate gathering in Rotorua.

Chris Liddell spoke last night to a group of local business people, hosted by the Rotorua Chamber of Commerce and Pukeroa Oruawhata Holdings Ltd.

He captivated the audience, speaking briefly about how he sees the world, the role of philanthropy in businesses and society and the current American presidential campaign, before opening the session up to questions.

He said there were positives and negatives to the digitisation and globalisation of the world, but he was "incredibly optimistic about the opportunities present to move forward".


"There are growing social tensions that have been caused by the advancement of technology, things like growing inequality and unemployment, but the positives far outweigh the negatives and I believe New Zealand is incredibly well placed to embrace change and move forward."

Mr Liddell has been the vice chairman and chief financial officer of General Motors and Microsoft. Prior to that he was the chief financial officer of International Paper and the chief executive of Carter Holt Harvey.

In 2012 he became the executive director of transition planning for the Romney presidential campaign. He was also a director and treasurer of the Romney for President fundraising campaign. Mr Liddell is currently chairman of Xero, a cloud software company, Next Foundation and chief financial officer of WME-IMG. He attributed his success to applying his personal skills, a high tolerance for risk and the luck of "having a number of fantastic opportunities come my way".

"I have big aspirations, I like to be the best in the world at something, and I am reasonably curious - I'm interested in everything and anything. I feel like I am learning as much today as I was 30 years ago.

"I am a product of the New Zealand education system which is why I see the importance of supporting people who are experimenting in areas that can bring the education sector into the 21st century."

When asked what he wanted local business people to take away from his talk, he said he hoped to offer them a perspective they may not have considered - "broaden their horizons".

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