Technology entrepreneur, foresight practitioner and professional director Melissa Clark-Reynolds discusses the ups and downs of Covid-19, predictions for 2021 and why casual wear on Fridays will be, sadly, replaced by PJs.
How would you describe 2020 for your business?
Roller coaster. I sit on one board where our entire overseas supply chain stopped, so we had to design a product that could be produced in New Zealand. That was actually great and we have made the business more resilient and grown despite some very tricky months.
In the meat industry we have also had a very good year, thanks to global demand for protein and some missteps in managing the pandemic in some other countries which meant they were unable to produce as much meat as usual.
How do you think the Government has handled the Covid-19 crisis?
I think they have been great, every day I am grateful for rational leadership who listened to scientific expertise.
What are two key things the Government should do for economic recovery?
I think we need to bring more workers over the border if they have jobs to come to. Let their employers pay for the two weeks of MIQ.
The Government should use its massive procurement budgets to spend in the local economy, prioritising local suppliers.
Wool, for example, should be specified in every new government fit out for carpet and furnishings, and natural fibres in their uniforms (Disclaimer: I chair Little Yellow Bird which makes beautiful natural fibre workwear). The wool price is having a terrible time thanks to Covid and the collapse of the fashion industry globally. Let's help our farmers while keeping money circulating here.
How is your business planning to tackle 2021?
Survival was the main goal for most businesses in 2020, we are back into growth mode for 2021.
What will be the major challenges and/or opportunities for your industry?
The meat sector will continue to need to act as caretakers of land and rivers, and reduce carbon output. There is a wave of new legislation and regulation about to pour over the farming sector. We have to make sure we support farmers and don't dent their morale.
What was the most interesting non-Covid story of 2020?
Has to be Black Lives Matter.
What are your predictions for 2021?
US will be in difficult territory and continued social unrest. Brexit will be a disaster for British Farmers (who voted for it) as they can't get staff and prices for their products can't be sustained locally.
People are not going back to the office, and casual Friday fashion will be all week with PJs on Fridays. I am sad to see this decline in workwear. I like a good suit but I suspect they will feel increasingly anachronistic (belonging to BC - before Covid).
Meat and Dairy returns will remain high, direct to consumer and subscription business models will keep growing.
What's the worst mistake you've made in business?
Oh so many! Probably taking an investor's term sheet at their word. The investment led left and the firm refused to honour the deal - three days after we were expecting £1million in our accounts and had already staffed up.
What would you rate as your greatest success in business?
Feeding the families of everyone who was working with/for me. I have loved annual Christmas parties where I got to see the size of the wider families we were supporting.
Where are you holidaying this summer?
Governors Bay near Lyttelton with my family and parents-in-law, followed by canoeing the Whanganui River. Can't wait.