1. You went to King's College: shouldn't you have been a lawyer or a doctor?
I wanted to be an architect but I wasn't artistic enough. I've rebelled against that (King's College stereotype) a bit. I'm a maverick I suppose. Most of my peers were going into law or finance or medicine but I did engineering and wanted to be a project manager. My parents didn't have a lot of money - Dad was a signwriter - but they really believed in education because they'd both left school early themselves. Mum died last year and one of the things she always said was "it's better to have a big heart than be a big shot". I think she's right. There's enough ego in the world but there's probably not enough love.
2. How did you end up in the corporate world?
When I finished engineering the '87 crash happened. There was all that hedonism and false money and false lifestyles and it was all just gone. I'd seen a lot of families go through the best and worst of times, including my Dad. He'd invested money that was worthless overnight. It made me think there's more to life than money and there weren't any jobs around anyway so I went to Massey and did an MBA for two years.
3. Wasn't that all about money?
No, it was fantastic and opened my perspective. I'd been a very linear, rational person and I was thrown into a room with 25 much older and more experienced people and it was like a two-year debate about everything.
4. And then you got a corporate career?
I joined Ford in the management programme and had an amazing time with them. It was a huge steep learning curve. I had a fair bit to do with the All Blacks. Because I was in marketing we got the sponsorship for them. We were at an All Black camp once when the coach called the newcomers together with a couple of us sponsors and he read out, from a crumpled old piece of paper, what it means to be an All Black. One of their mantras was to never let a teammate fail. I've always tried to bring that into my work.
5. When did you start looking for something more than a career?
I turned 30 in 2000 and one of my resolutions then was to give back. Mum had always done voluntary work and it was just something I wanted to do. My wife and I were told we weren't going to have kids but I was drawn to them so I volunteered at Starship. I became really interested in the resilience of kids, how children with cancer were coping better than their parents. Then this job came up.
6. Do you have children now?
We had six or seven years of trying and put a huge amount of time and money into that and miraculously on our last attempt we had William. Then there was one egg left in the freezer and so we threw that back in and it split in two and we had twins Michael and Thomas. Tom had severe special needs and passed away at 16 months. We'd been told he could live to 22 but he got pneumonia and died. Unless you've gone through losing a child you can't really understand it. I talk to mothers in Kenya now who've lost children through famine or whatever and every story is different. It changes you. But it does steel you and make you a bit tougher.
7. You travel a lot with ChildFund; how do you cope with seeing children suffering?
You have to be tough. Crying for these people isn't going to help them. I remember going through a camp in the northern border of Ethiopia and Kenya and there'd been a severe famine. They were measuring children's arms to see how malnourished they were. People were living under trees together for safety and all you'd hear was this rattling cough of kids. You don't hear crying. The children were a strange grey bleached colour. They hadn't seen rain in three or four years.
8. Do you feel guilty about your own life and wealth when you're in those situations?
Far from it. That's the funny thing. They know you're there for a short time yet they welcome you like family. They don't judge you. And you don't feel guilty, you feel compassion.
9. Have you taken your own children to the areas you work in?
I haven't yet. It costs a lot. But the boys are really intrigued about what I do and for a while there Michael, whenever we saw an African person or a person of African descent, he would ask if I knew them. Even Usain Bolt.
10. How do you make privileged children grateful for their lives when you've seen what you see?
God knows. I need help with that one. We get so caught up in our fast-paced world of iPads and TV. I think taking time to slow that all down is important. Remove the gadgets. Get back to simpler things. Every night I tell my kids a story about an elf, it might relate to something that happened to them that day, or me. They love it and it slows down the world for just those seven minutes.
11. What about child poverty in New Zealand: why doesn't ChildFund work here?
It's a question we're asked more and more. There is a growing inequality here in New Zealand but we have to ask if we'd have any more impact than other agencies working in that field. We work with abject poverty. It's not complaining about how bad schools are, there is no school. It's not hospital queues, it's walking eight hours to a hospital. It's not bad teeth or obesity. It's malnourishment.
12. Are you religious?
I wasn't. And I'm not devout now. But after Tom died it left me asking questions like why? And why us? Why him? They're still not fully addressed but three years ago I started going to the Catholic church at the school my boys were at. It's given me an extra dimension to my life, and a slower pace, I think. I don't bring it up at work at all. None of us do and we're Buddhists or atheists or whatever. For me, it's just a deeply personal thing.
ChildFund helps New Zealanders to sponsor children in Kenya, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Timor Leste and Zambia. www.childfund.org.nz