Brian Tsoi is the country manager of New Zealand and Pacific Islands at Cathay Pacific Airways

How's life at the top?

I wouldn't consider myself at the top. I have always believed that leaders lead from the front, and not at the top.

How are you coping with an increased public profile?


As someone who only arrived into this position in New Zealand in the middle of 2013, I am still building my profile in New Zealand but making sure that I am doing the right thing and being a role model for my team at all times is the most important thing. I always tell my team that we are the face of the company at all times, and whatever we do also reflects what the public thinks of our brand.

What is your top tip for being a successful leader?

A successful leader should not take credit for successes, and always pass the credit to those who deserve it. That is how your people will continue to be motivated and make contributions to the company because they know that their ideas and efforts count.

There are many different schools of thought on how to motivate your teams, and I find the most effective one is to give them challenges, monitor and guide them along the way, and celebrate the successes they have achieved. It might sound simple, but many leaders forget about the celebration part, and some only celebrate but do not know what the team has done to deserve it. Great leaders follow the steps through.

I have sometimes received comments like "You're the manager, why are you doing that kind of work?" That goes for conducting training sessions for the teams, making PowerPoints for agent product presentations, down to standing at the departure gate at the airport saying "Thank you for choosing Cathay Pacific". Being a leader means that you are at the front and setting an example for the team on what is expected from them, and not only shouting and screaming from the top to get things done. Do it yourself, and the rest will follow.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced in getting to the top?

I must say one of the biggest but most subtle challenges I face is being a Gen Y leader, and stepping into a new role every year or two, managing a team of highly skilled and experienced team members. The subtle part is that nobody really tells you to your face, so the key is earning the respect from the very start. That requires compassion, dedication and innovation.

Who has inspired you in your career?


I could go on pretentiously to talk about great political leaders of the time, but I have to say, Malcolm Gladwell, journalist and author of Blink and Outliers, has inspired me to look at the surprising insights about the world we live in. I must say, some of his anecdotes and theories have inspired me to make decisions that steer my leadership style today.

Who is your biggest supporter?

Difficult question - I would say my team and the people I work with, as they support me and help me to do my job.

What do you do to relax and unwind?

Travelling and exploring new exotic places - beaches are always my favourite.

When you do take time out do you turn the phone off?

I don't think my phone has ever been off for the past eight years, and the only time I'm not reachable would be when it's on flight mode. I heard it's not good for the battery!