Never in their worst dreams could New Zealand business leaders have imagined the havoc Covid-19 would wreak. As they try to wrestle chaos into some order, Andrea Fox has asked them how they're faring. Today, Tourism Holdings chief executive Grant Webster responds.
Describe the past month for you, and for your business
A horror film! It's like a short film that's won every short film festival globally; it now looks like an Oscar winner as well - the question is whether it's a Peter Jackson style trilogy? I never liked horror films.
In saying that, the team have done an amazing job, as we have seen in lots of other places.
We have lost nearly all revenue globally and have been dealing with stranded customers, massive people changes, and every aspect of the business needing to change.
Again, the crew though have been excellent, no matter what the outcome has been for them personally.
What time have you been getting up and getting to bed during this time?
I am up stupidly early most days, before 4am. That's when I start reading what's happening around the world. I try not to do too many emails at that time. Nights depend on whether there are calls to the UK and Europe, given what's going on there; being a global business does add some pressure. But the benefit is that I can sleep any time, when I get the chance.
Assuming you are working from home, where in your house do you work?
I am lucky enough to have a room that I can call an office or study. The only thing is that the WiFi is shocking, so I have an ethernet cable running through the house (taped down from a H&S perspective). Looks terrible, but that really doesn't matter in today's world!
How has the family reacted to you working at home?
I have two children in this bubble and two in another bubble, so it's hard from that perspective. The family here are being just awesome, looking after me very well, while I hide away in my little office! The dog seems to like to join in calls when he can. I physically see the family more often, obviously - but for short amounts of time, as I am passing to go to the bathroom or am getting a drink (of water).
What's the biggest challenge about working from home?
Not being able to see people; I find the collaboration harder. For the business, I would have to say that, at this stage, I think the teams have done an amazing job. The IT team set everyone up really well and, importantly, we have some essential services running - that team is doing a phenomenal job!
What has been your worst/most fearful moment/realisation in this crisis so far?
Too scary to consider putting in writing. Better off considering a bad dad joke, courtesy of The Two Ronnies; "A crash occurred on State Highway 1 today between a cement truck and prison van. Police have asked the public to be on the lookout for six hardened criminals".
Your biggest personal challenge so far?
Realising that no matter how hard you work, no matter how good your people, no matter how well positioned you thought you were as a business, there is so much we just can't control in this situation. Upon realising that, you can move to adapt, pivot more and change what you can control.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
Your most valuable learning so far?
It is a rollercoaster that goes underground and overground, with not too many upsides. When you think you have a view of what is next, you are back down in a hole with another hit to the business. Once you operate knowing that, it is easier to plan and unplan.
But there are other lessons:
•Adrenaline will get the team through anything for a period.
•People will trade certainty for chance at this time.
•A crisis is a great leveller.
•We actually respond to government direction well - and possibly need more of it in the future on things that really matter.
Have you bought shares?
No time, no inclination.
Have you bought gold or any other perceived "safe" asset?
Food from the supermarket is probably the safest asset I have purchased in the last few weeks. The depreciation rate is quite high, I expect.
Have you made time for exercise? If so, what exercise?
Nowhere near what I want or should. Small laps around the block a few days a week. Isn't it great how people smile and greet each other on the street now? (from 2m away).
What score between 1 and 10 do you give the Government's general performance in handling this crisis so far?
10 for the PM.10 on the health side.9 for effort. 6 for some of the execution; more decisiveness in some areas.
Your prediction for the lockdown duration?
Just the four weeks at level 4 – on a national level, the impact is too great beyond that. The cluster areas may be longer.