Ryan Christensen has studied acting in New York, made wine in France, has a degree in political science and media, and founded two companies - and he's still in his early 30s.
Now, the Rotorua-born businessman is the new chief executive of Tauranga beverage company Good Buzz.
Good Buzz was founded in 2014 by Alex and Amber Campbell, who set up a factory in Wainuiomata before moving to Tauranga in April 2017.
The new man in charge, 32-year-old Christensen says: "It's a new time for Good Buzz. It's really exciting."
Christensen hopes to build the brand into a beverage company, introducing new flavours, cans and bottles, a premium range as well as an RTD at the end of the year.
"My vision for the company is really to be a 'better for you' drinks beverage company rather than just be that brand."
He has also hired more staff, building the numbers from five to nine in a matter of months, and plans to employ more.
"We will probably be 10 full time by the end of November. My goal for the end of next year will be 12.
"I would love a brand manager and more salespeople ... It's really to assist our growth."
They have already grown out of their 500sq m site at Maleme St in Greerton, and will be moving to a new 1200sq m factory in Tauriko next month, he said.
Christensen grew up in Rotorua and attended Rotorua Lakes High School before making the move to Mount Maunganui near the end of 2020.
Over the years, Christensen has gained experience in sales, strategy, operations, customer experience and marketing.
He worked for global beverage company Lion, which has a portfolio of brands in beer, cider, wine, spirits, seltzers, and non-alcoholic drinks, for eight years in Auckland.
After a stint in Sydney, Australia, looking after the national account for Coles Liquor and then Woolworths, Christensen returned home to the Bay of Plenty and discovered the role with Good Buzz.
Christensen says having a clear vision for the future is what makes a good chief executive.
"I believe a good CEO is not thinking about tomorrow or next month, it's talking about six months from now, 12 months from now. The CEO is the keeper of the vision."
Surrounding yourself with good people is also key, he says.
"As a leader, my job isn't to know everything. It's about surrounding myself with people who I can trust that will complement but also challenge me.
"It's about building a team of complementary skills and relying on their expertise rather than saying this is the way it should be."
Creating an environment of psychological safety is also important, he says.
"That is the idea that you can present an idea without ridicule or kickback.
"It's about everyone having a voice, and when you create an environment of psychological safety you hear things that you didn't expect."
At age 32, Christensen admits he is a young CEO but says it is not always about having years of experience.
"It's the ability to pull that out of other people that is the most important."
1. Name five things people don't know about you
- In 2012, I lived in New York and studied acting at the prestigious Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute for six months.
- One of my jobs while working for Lion meant I was travelling New Zealand and was in a city every day teaching people about wine.
- I have a degree in political science and media.
- I have a ta moko on my right calf. I am not Māori by descent but growing up in Rotorua I have a really strong connection to Māori culture. It's really special to me.
- I have another company. I am the co-founder and managing director of Herd Creative. It is a creative agency based in Auckland, founded in February 2021.
- I was the founder of Izakai Bar & Eatery in Mount Maunganui. In March when I started with Good Buzz, I sold my share in Izakai Bar & Eatery to my business partners.
2. Your first paid job was?
3. Favourite colour?
4. When the borders open up where do you want to travel first and why?
I missed two weddings in Sydney, so I would absolutely love to go and see them.
Chasing the sun in Croatia and Greece with my girlfriend. We have been dreaming about that for the past year.
5. How many countries have you been to?
About 16. I have made wine at an organic winery in France.
6. Favourite food?
Italian. Pasta, pizza, red wine.
7. How do you drink your coffee?
We have a coffee filter at home, so black coffee. Or soy flat white when I am out and about.
8. How do your friends and family describe you?
Upbeat, enthusiastic, energetic, passionate, caring, thoughtful.
9. How do your colleagues describe you?
Entertaining, positive, a bit whacky, full of energy, courageous, strategic, passionate.