Today we count down to the announcement of the Herald Business Leader of the Year. Previous winners include Air New Zealand’s Christopher Luxon, Xero’s Rod Drury and Mainfreight’s Don Braid. Here are the first of this year’s nominees. The winner will be named on Saturday.
Joan Withers, Mighty River Power chairwoman
Joan Withers is one of the foremost proponents of creating greater gender diversity in New Zealand's boardrooms and has a reputation for building a strong rapport with investors, particularly at annual meetings.
Her contribution to business was recognised last week when she became the first female recipient of the Shareholders Association's annual Beacon Award.
Withers became a BNZ bank teller after leaving high school and later rose through the media industry to become one of the most influential figures in corporate New Zealand.
She is the former chief executive of media firms The Radio Network and Fairfax New Zealand and was chairwoman of Auckland Airport until last year.
Withers guided energy generator and retailer Mighty River Power's transition from state-owned enterprise to NZX-listed firm.
Although Mighty River listed in 2013, it has been this year, more precisely the latter part of it, which has been kind to investors in the company.
The shares languished below their $2.50 offer price through much of 2013 and 2014, but rallied following National's September election win - which swept away regulatory risks associated with opposition policies - and closed $3.06 on Friday.
The Shareholders Association's award recognises governance skills, leadership, fairness, respect for the rules and the avoidance of self-interest.
"For us that describes Joan Withers to a tee," association chairman John Hawkins said last week.
Simon Challies, Ryman Healthcare chief executive
Simon Challies won this year's Deloitte Top 200 Executive of the Year.
The past year has been good to him, recognised for his strong leadership skills and driving Ryman's success as the company rides the ever-rising Auckland and Christchurch property markets.
High house prices are great for Ryman, enabling people to get enough to afford retirement places.
Challies does not mention Canterbury earthquakes when it comes to difficulties: he says one of the hardest times for him was the credit crunch last decade.
A second challenge he cites was taking the company into Australia and he admits to being asked if it was reckless.
But he said it had taken the company many years to get to the point where development was under way in Melbourne.
"We're not planning to build three new villages simultaneously," he explained last month.
Ryman is on a $690 million Auckland expansion, is building in Melbourne, produced a record underlying profit of $66.3 million for the six months to the end of September which was 13 per cent higher than a year earlier, built a record 450 beds and units in that half-year and is planning to open one new village a year in Auckland and Melbourne.