Business leaders discuss the year just gone and what will affect them in 2019. Today, Vodafone New Zealand chief executive Jason Paris discusses some tough calls he has to make in the next 12 months.

What does 2019 look like for your business?

We need to speed up our innovation, decision making and delivery, and to simplify our products and experiences. We are not where we need to be from a commercial, customer experience or cultural perspective, and we are all focused on closing that gap next year. Of course, that's easier said than done.

How is that different than 2018? How has the last year been for your business?

2018 has been a year of transition. The business hasn't achieved the ambitious plans it set itself in 2018 so we are having to make some tough prioritisation calls at the moment. However, we have a very strong and ambitious team - so I'm excited by what we have planned for our people and customers in the year ahead.

It has also been a year of industry investment, including Vodafone's launch of two new networks to accelerate the uptake and use of Internet of Things (IoT) which will change the game for many New Zealanders. The joint investment by Vodafone, Spark & 2degrees with the Government to expand rural coverage and improve coverage on state highways and tourist hotspots is also a fantastic initiative. This will ensure that Kiwis and visitors have even better connectivity during the busy holiday period this summer.

What are the issues affecting your industry in the next 12 months?

The industry needs to do a much better job of generating an improved return on the significant investments that we are making in order to ensure the sustainability of world-leading services and technologies for New Zealanders. The demand for our services has never been greater, but the price that customers pay for these services has never been lower which reduces our ability to invest as much as we would like in new innovation. We don't want to see our global leadership and progress in these areas slow down.

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What is the biggest issue that you would like the Government to champion in 2019?

To continue to focus on closing the poverty gap. An increasing number of young New Zealanders are not getting access to the things that they need to set themselves up for their future. It's going to take a massive team effort to change the trends, so I'll be looking to help as much as I can. I'm especially proud of the innovative and visionary work that we are doing through the Vodafone Foundation to halve the number of at-risk and vulnerable youth by 2027.

Do you get a break this summer? What's your favourite way to relax?

We love summer as it's all about spending time with family and friends. We alternate our Christmas holidays between Invercargill and Omaha. With three young children there isn't a lot of relaxing - but I wouldn't have it any other way.