Magazine article New Zealand Management

Aiming for the Highest Peak

Magazine article New Zealand Management

Aiming for the Highest Peak

Article excerpt

New Zealand has a long history of being far too modest about its successes--whether scientific, academic, philanthropic, or in business. Although as a nation we yearn for the opportunity to celebrate and recognise our achievements, we are fickle in where we place our adoration and the longevity it deserves.

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The passing of Sir Edmund Hillary, arguably our nation's most authentic hero, has brought with it a keen sense of loss to the people of New Zealand. It's also reminded us of the great sense of pride we have in his achievements. But one has to question, at a time when even adoration of our sports heroes comes with a pre-determined list of performance measures, is it only feats with the magnitude of conquering the world's largest peak that are worthy of our praise and a good old Kiwi slap on the back?

It was the desire to celebrate local business achievement that saw Deloitte and NZ Management magazine launch the Top 200 Awards 18 years ago. Back then, the economy was haemorrhaging after the 1987 sharemarket crash which precipitated a severe recession. The business press was littered with news of corporate failures and the casual observer could be forgiven for thinking there was little to celebrate.

It was also a time when business leaders were held in relatively low esteem: to the extent that when they did exhibit success many seemed to feel it was achieved through luck, deception or on the backs of others. But business people, like most of us, like to have recognition, to be applauded for a job well done.

Business is vitally important to all New Zealanders. Only businesses create the wealth upon which our living standards depend. So the country needs to embrace its successful businesses and to see business leaders as positive role models. We need look no further than some of our most iconic Kiwi businesses such as Pumpkin Patch and Fisher & Paykel to recognise names synonymous with success and entrepreneurship.

Although our entrepreneurial spirit fuels a high rate of business start-ups, we seem to struggle to grow these into the much larger enterprises needed to compete successfully on the global stage. While this may in part be due to the difficulties of a small remote economy to provide the scale for growth, it may also be fostered by a lesser level of ambition, and a sense that becoming a 'big' business does not result in positive recognition in our society. …

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