From the CEO

Arihia-BennettChief Executive Officer,
Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu,
Arihia Bennett

Generation Rangatahi

I was recently privileged to spend an intensive ‘bootcamp’ week for New Zealand CEOs at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University in the United States. The programme was designed to extend business leaders in a way that could further stimulate and enhance New Zealand industry in the global economy.

In true bootcamp style, each morning started with press-ups among other physical activities to wake the brain and get the body moving. There was no slouching on this trip!

In the classroom we were introduced to a fast-changing global context where digital tools are a critical way of connecting to the world. We visited companies like Google and PayPal and saw technologies that are changing the face and pace of business interactions at an alarming speed. Electric cars are here, driverless cars will soon be a reality, and I suggest that George Jetson’s flying car will be down the track at some point.

Silicon Valley is full of bright young minds applying their start-up ideas across all sectors of the global economy. Pitching to angel investors is a way of life in the Valley for start-up entrepreneurs hoping that they will become the next Apple.

We were introduced to two New Zealanders: Victoria Ransom, who sold her social media software company Wildfire to Google for just over $310 million, and Jeremy Moon, founder of the merino clothing company Icebreaker which is now worth $200 million. Their stories were motivating as they both demonstrated the willpower to succeed. They continue to build on this by harnessing the young talent around them.

There were many highlights at Stanford. However, we all ended the week with the realisation that we must be surrounded by young talent prepared to succeed and take the business to the next level.

The 2013 census tells us we have nearly 30,000 Ngāi Tahu under the age of 30. It is their imagination, curiosity, and diversity that will shape the way of our future as long as we capture it, nurture it, and invest in it now. As iwi leaders I believe we need to become more open-minded – to let down the old guard and invite the inquisitive nature of young people to truly become a part of our future planning.

Experienced leaders bring wisdom, knowledge, and skills. However, the enquiring minds of young people are what will really stretch us into looking outside the square. They have a place in decision-making, given it is their generations who will be making the critical choices about their own future.

It is coming up time to start thinking beyond our tribal vision document, Ngāi Tahu 2025, created in 1999–2000, and I say leaders of today should be teaming up with leaders of tomorrow tout de suite!