Starting out at PwC almost 26 years ago, Mark Averill says he never imagined he would one day be leading the consultancy firm, although he always set his expectations high.

Averill took on the role in October last year, and credits a lot of his leadership success to the earlier stages of his career with the company.

"My early years at PwC had a big impact on me," Averill said. "Not only did I get some great commercial experience but I worked in an environment and with leaders that shaped the person I am today."

Averill is one of the panelists at this week's PwC Herald Talks on Wednesday, focused on leadership.


As the boss of more than 1,300 staff, Averill said he had learnt a thing or two about leadership.

Like many executives, Averill said surrounding yourself with great people is key to running a successful business, with a solid team and company culture a good attraction for other staff.

"I learnt very early on in my career that you always have more fun when you work and achieve success as a team and this hasn't changed since stepping into a leadership role," Averill said.

"The leadership style I've always admired most has been one of openness and transparency. You need two-way communication, it's the only way people know what's expected of them," he said.

"I think the current times allows for leaders to be less formal and perhaps slightly more relaxed. It's with this openness, you gain respect and trust - and I've certainly found this to be true."

Professional director Traci Houpapa learnt a lot from leaders and mentors earlier in her life, saying she had a lot of people who were generous with their time and wanted to help.

Houpapa currently sits on 11 different boards of corporations, councils, authorities and foundations, and told the Herald earlier this month that her career in leadership grew organically - although she also gets up at 3am every day to fit everything in.

Her first appointment was to Maori authority, Te Uranga B2.

She was then asked to sit on the board of Strada, a construction company owned by the Waikato District Council where she said she learnt how politics affects business and the importance of stakeholder communication.

"I was soon asked to sit on other boards and my career in governance sprung from there," Houpapa said.

"As chair [of several organisations], I make sure everyone has an opportunity to contribute and the chief executive has the support and space to do their job," she said.

"Sometimes with this focus on separating governance and management I think we lose the opportunity for chief executives to draw on the board's skill and experience."

Diversity in leadership was also important according to Averill, who said a good leader was a diverse thinker who encouraged different ways of thinking and embraced diversity as an everyday business matter.

PwC Herald Talks - Leadership

• April 5
• 7-9am
• SKYCITY Theatre
• Tickets available on iTicket
• Tickets - $89