Never in their worst dreams could New Zealand business leaders have imagined the havoc Covid-19 would wreak. As they try to wrestle chaos into some order, Andrea Fox asked them some searching questions. Today she talks to Fonterra's chief executive Miles Hurrell.
Briefly describe recent weeks for you, and your business?
I'll just give you one word: pride. It's been a busy and challenging few weeks as we work through what Covid-19 means for us now and into the future. But I'm really proud of how our teams have risen to the challenge and are working together to get us through this.
What time have you been getting up and getting to bed during recent weeks?
My early morning routine hasn't changed too much, but I am spending more time in the evenings on calls, particularly with our overseas markets.
Are you working from home?
I'm still coming into the office. There's a small team of about 12 people co-ordinating our global response to Covid-19 and the crisis command centre is located in our Fanshawe St office. The office usually houses about 1200 each day, so there's plenty of space for social distancing. It's strange - there are only a couple of us on each floor.
What has been your worst/most fearful moment/realisation in this crisis so far?
It's not a fear, but a heavy sense of responsibility that New Zealand is banking on us as an industry. While we can control, to some extent, what we do ourselves, we cannot control what's happening around the world and the potential long-term negative impacts on the global markets.
Your biggest personal challenge so far?
Explaining to my 7-year-old the seriousness of Covid-19. So far, he thinks the change of routine is good fun and he's really liking having his parents home a bit more. Also worrying about my 70-plus-year-old mother who is living alone in Christchurch.
Your most valuable lesson so far?
This whole-NZ challenge is bringing out the best in Kiwis.
Have you bought shares in the past fortnight? If so, in what industry/sector?
Haven't even had time to think about that.
Have you bought gold or any other perceived "safe" asset?
Have you made time for exercise?
I always make time to exercise. There's been more alone time, so I've been doing a few calls while out for a walk.
What score between 1 and 10 do you give the Government's general performance in handling this crisis so far?
This is not about point scoring. There's no playbook for this. I'm happy with how it's being handled and how they've been receptive to working with businesses through this.
Your prediction for the lockdown duration?
That's really tough to pick, but looking at how China has started to come out of this, I think if we do everything right then the lockdown doesn't have to be extended. It's the economic impact which will be more long-term.