US Business Summit 2022: MC conference close (video)


Prize draw courtesy of Air New Zealand

Mat Bolland Chief Corporate Affairs Officer Air New Zealand with Auckland Business Chamber General Manager Events and Marketing Natalie Woodbridge

Conference close Tim McCready

US Business Summit 2022: New Zealand Story’s David Downs with Q&A (video)


David Downs CEO New Zealand Story

New Zealand Story Group was established to enhance New Zealand’s reputation beyond natural beauty. In a competitive global economy, reputation matters. And it’s important for a country like ours, with an economy that relies on the strengths of its exports, to continue to grow and diversify.

The more we can do to ensure we’re all telling a broad, compelling and aspirational story about New Zealand, that’s grounded in our values and resonates with the world, the greater chance we have of attracting people to all that we offer.

Moderator: Tim McCready

US Business Summit 2022: Aerospace panel discussion (video)

Speakers canvassed the exciting space frontier that Kiwi companies are leading, the work of the New Zealand Space Agency, and developments in aerospace that are helping to build strong links between New Zealand and the United States.
  • Catherine MacGowan Asia Pacific Regional Director, Wisk
  • Andrew Johnson Lead Space Policy and Regulatory Systems New Zealand Space Agency

Moderator: Tim McCready

US Business Summit 2022: Rocket Lab’s Peter Beck with Q&A (video)

PETER BECK Founder and CEO Rocket Lab

Founder and chief executive of Rocket Lab, Peter Beck, gave the opening keynote for the New Frontiers session at the US Business Summit. Peter is a pioneer in New Zealand’s accession in the space industry, growing to become a leading player in space, redefining the industry with the rapid and cost-effective delivery of innovative, high-quality technology.

Rocket Lab has deployed 110 satellites, with its Electron rocket the second most frequently launched US rocket annually, delivering mission success for commercial and government satellite operators.Speaking on the eve of the launch window for the CAPSTONE mission to the Moon, Peter shared with Summit attendees how his business has launched New Zealand into the forefront of deep space.

The year ahead is packed with missions, including the first launch to the moon from New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula. Through this collaboration, Rocket Lab is demonstrating the strong partnership between New Zealand and the United States in this new frontier, as well as the leading role private business can play to forge bilateral relationships and pave the way for new areas of government collaboration.

Peter discussed how Rocket Lab has helped pave the way for New Zealand businesses to think bigger than our own backyard. Last year it listed on the Nasdaq Composite Index and has demonstrated that there is nothing holding New Zealand business back from becoming significant global players in new and exciting industries.

Moderator: Tim McCready

US Business Summit 2022: MC conference opening (video)

Tim McCready, MC


Dynamic Business: Trends that matter in 2022 - NZ Herald

The business climate has been anything but predictable over the past two years.

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused upheaval and seen companies scramble to adapt to a rapidly changing environment — the most visible changes have been the rapid uptake of digital technologies and the rise of remote and hybrid working.

That unpredictability looks set to continue, but there are several underlying trends for businesses to keep in mind as they navigate the year ahead.

A new era of geopolitics

In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the US and EU have cut selected banks from Swift and closed airspace to Russian planes. Further sanctions have been imposed on Russia’s central bank, aimed at preventing it from accessing reserves.

While the crisis might be on the other side of the world, the economic impact will ripple through the global economy and reach NZ shores.

Russia is the world’s second-largest exporter of crude oil and refined petrol, and the world’s largest exporter of natural gas. Global crude oil prices have already reached their highest levels since 2014, and it is expected that prices will go even higher as the conflict persists. This will impact fuel, supply chains, and the cost of goods in general.

Businesses should also brace for cyberattacks, which many predict Russia will use in response to sanctions. NZ’s National Cyber Security Centre (part of the GCSB) recently released an advisory encouraging nationally significant organisations to consider their security, exercise readiness, and monitor for relevant cyber security developments.

Closer to home, the South China Sea and China’s increasing influence in the Pacific continues to cause fractures in the relationship between China and the United States.

Just prior to the Beijing Winter Olympics in a joint statement, President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin denounced interference from the United States in their affairs and opposed further enlargement of Nato.

While New Zealand has so far managed to carefully navigate its relationship with China, we will face increased pressure as Australia, the United States and the UK make stronger statements about China’s behaviour. At last year’s Apec CEO Summit, President Xi warned Asia-Pacific nations to not “relapse into the confrontation and division of the Cold War-era”.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern noted at last year’s China Business Summit that differences between NZ and China were “becoming harder to reconcile” as Beijing’s role in the world grows and changes, and that “managing the relationship is not always going to be easy and there can be no guarantees”.

With geopolitics entering a new era, businesses must walk a geopolitical tightrope and be ready to respond as events occurring elsewhere in the world impact their own operations, relationships, and people.

Increased employee turnover becoming harder to prevent

Since the start of the pandemic, the “Great Resignation” has gained momentum. The pandemic has shifted the mindset of employees, and seen them leave their jobs in search for a better work-life balance, remote work opportunities, increased flexibility or higher pay. In some cases they are moving to organisations that provide a better sense of purpose and meaning, with values that align with their own.

In order to remain competitive and attract and retain workers, companies have to rethink the benefits they offer and clearly articulate their purpose.

This is particularly true for knowledge sectors — those industries significantly reliant on the use of technology and human capital. The tight labour market around the world has seen those workplaces that don’t offer the flexibility and purpose demanded by their employees hindered by increased turnover in a market where good talent is hard to find.

But remote and hybrid has introduced new challenges for business.

The removal of a commute dramatically increases the pool of potential companies for employees. Someone living in Taranaki can now apply for remote working roles in Wellington or Auckland that might have previously been unobtainable to them.

It also limits the social ties that employees make with colleagues.

We have all been to staff farewells where we are told by the departing employee “it is the people here that makes it so hard to leave this job”. These connections that might have once encouraged employees to remain in their job have become weaker and will see the great resignation becoming a sustained challenge for business to grapple with.

Four-day work week gaining momentum

As an alternative to negotiating remuneration with employees and becoming drawn into a bidding war with other workplaces, there has been a rise in companies offering a shorter work week as a bargaining chip.

One example of reduced hours is the four-day work week, which is gaining momentum around the world.

NZ’s Perpetual Guardian trialled a four-day week in 2018 — a world-first for a privately held company.

The eight-week experiment measured productivity, motivation and output, with staff paid the same amount for working fewer hours. It discovered productivity improved 20 per cent, and employees were more creative, committed and less stressed. It has since made the move permanent.

Perpetual Guardian founder Andrew Barnes says the four-day working week is “not just having a day off a week — it’s about delivering productivity, and meeting customer service standards, meeting personal and team business goals and objectives”.

More companies are now beginning to trial shorter work weeks.

A four-day week pilot in the United Kingdom begins in June, with 30 companies signed up so far. The pilot is run by 4 Day Week Global, an organisation that advocates for the shorter week. It says similar programmes are set to start in the US and Ireland, with more planned for Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Wellness on the way up

Covid-19 has put significant strain on the workforce. Uncertainty around job security, lockdowns, social isolation and limited social contact all contributed to the mental health crisis and exacerbated stress, anxiety and depression for both employers and employees.

The challenge of retaining good employees has seen businesses and business leaders prioritise health and build a culture of wellbeing in the workplace that openly supports mental health.

Many organisations have introduced wellbeing programmes, which include partnerships with mental health providers, subscriptions to mental health apps, fitness classes and additional days off. Last year, Westpac New Zealand introduced five days a year of wellbeing leave, and NZX-listed Vista Group introduced half-day Fridays for all its staff.

Research conducted by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research last year on behalf of Xero showed investing in employee wellbeing can help to make a business more profitable.

It estimated that for every dollar a small business invests in company-wide wellbeing initiatives for staff, it can expect to see a return of up to 12 times within a year.

The impact of Omicron (and future variants)

Overlaying all these trends, Covid-19 remains present. While the world welcomed the news that the highly transmissible Omicron variant is associated with less severe disease than earlier variants, a pattern of new variants around every six months has emerged.

Since there is a risk of the virus mutating each time it reproduces, the greater transmissibility from Omicron brings with it an even greater chance of new variants emerging.

It was hoped by many that the vaccine rollout would bring an end to the pandemic, but it looks increasingly likely that Covid-19 — in one form or another — is here to stay.

New tools like antivirals, antibody treatments and new vaccines are coming on board this year, which will help us navigate Covid-19 as it becomes an endemic disease.

These will be important as 2022 (hopefully) becomes the year that businesses, employers, employees and government finally reach post-pandemic normality. In a year fraught with challenges of all kinds to navigate, that is something that should bring hope to us all.

Deloitte Top 200: Sustainable Business Leadership - Kathmandu - NZ Herald

When Kathmandu achieved B-Corp certification in 2019, it became the largest Australasian retailer to be certified through the stringent process which recognises the highest standards of environmental and social performance.

“Part of being a certified B-Corp is looking at how we can benefit everyone that our brand comes in contact with, from suppliers to customers,” says Kathmandu CEO Reuben Casey.

“It helps us on that path of continuous improvement and demonstrates to our customers, shareholders, investors and suppliers that we are committed to doing the right thing.”

The Deloitte Top 200 judges commended Kathmandu Holdings for putting sustainability right at the heart of its strategy, and say this is why Kathmandu has been recognised as the winner of the 2021 Sustainable Business Leadership award. They are impressed by the leadership it demonstrates across ESG (environmental, social, governance) to drive long-term value for its shareholders and for the planet.

The Kathmandu brand was established in 1987, with Kathmandu Holdings formed in 2009 as a publicly listed company. The subsequent acquisition of hiking footwear brand Oboz (2018) and surfwear brand Rip Curl (2019) has seen Kathmandu Holdings transform from an Australasian retailer to a brand-led global multi-channel business. The Group is now working to extend Kathmandu’s B-Corp accreditation across its other key brands — Rip Curl and Oboz.

“Sustainability is central to Kathmandu’s strategy and is felt by all divisions of the company,” says Top 200 judge and Direct Capital managing director Ross George. “We were impressed with this ‘whole of company’ involvement — it is transnational and embraced by the board, management, and all levels of staff.”

Last year, Kathmandu Holdings completed an ESG materiality assessment across the group, speaking with stakeholders about where it can do better and what it should be focused on.
It also recently secured NZ’s largest syndicated sustainability-linked loan. The A$100m loan is tied to ESG and will be measured against a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, B Corp certification, and improving the transparency, wellbeing and labour conditions for workers in its supply chain. If targets are hit, the interest rate on the loan decreases.

The judges were impressed by the bold ESG targets Kathmandu has set out to achieve by 2025, as it continues to consider how it can improve at every touch point. One of these targets was to become carbon zero by 2025. Kathmandu reached this target four years ahead of schedule, after offsetting its operational carbon footprint through Toitū carbonzero certification.

Casey says while this is a huge step, Kathmandu will continue to work towards its larger goal of net zero environmental harm by 2025. In 2022, it will set science-based targets that align with the Paris Agreement, and will hold itself accountable to those targets.

“This forces us to really understand the wider impact across the wider supply chain and value chain, as opposed to just doing what we can control,” he says. “It also helps us to influence our suppliers a bit more as well.”

Another of Kathmandu’s targets is to have 100 per cent of its products designed, developed and manufactured using elements of circularity principles.

In a first step, last year Kathmandu released its Pelorus Biofleece, made from 100 per cent recycled fabric which can degrade by 93.8 per cent in landfills at the end of its life. Later this year, it will release a 100 per cent biodegradable down jacket, with every component of the jacket able to biodegrade in landfill and marine environments.

“We are trying to demonstrate leadership and push forward the boundaries of what is possible,” says Casey. Kathmandu Holdings’ other brands are making progress towards its aim to achieve B-Corp certification across the entire group.

Rip Curl undertook a carbon audit and established a new ESG team to reflect Rip Curl’s increased focus on sustainability and take steps toward B Corp certification. The business sources its sustainable cotton in line with the Better Cotton Initiative, and this year launched a wetsuit take-back programme.

Oboz has embarked on its first materiality assessment and carbon footprint audit. Over the next 12 months it aims to work aggressively to surpass the 80-point minimum requirement to become B Corp certified.  The company plants a tree for every pair of footwear sold and has 95 per cent environmentally preferred leather materials in its product range.

Finalist: Lion

Country Director for Lion New Zealand Craig Baldie says the company’s success hinges on its ability to operate ethically and in the best interest of society, including looking after the environment.

The beverage brewer and manufacturer’s sustainability approach aims to strengthen the resilience of the communities in which it operates, champion responsible use of its products, and ensure its environmental legacy has a positive impact now and for future generations.

The Top 200 judges commended Lion for recognising the importance of operating ethically given the product they sell, and its focus on creating a balanced portfolio of products — including low and no alcohol options.

“Lion has been a New Zealand leader in creating a culture of responsible drinking which it calls mindful consumption,” says Top 200 judge Ross George. “It runs alcohol education programmes and is a member of the responsible drinking charity, Cheers.”

“On the employment front, Lion is an inclusive, flexible and diversified workplace.”
Baldie says Lion’s ability to operate is a privilege, not a right.

“Businesses who do the right thing for the long term are the ones that will endure,” he says. “For Lion as New Zealand’s largest alcohol beverage company, this means contributing to a positive and safe drinking culture is of primary importance.”

The judges were also impressed by Lion’s very direct commitment to the circular economy concept and its responsible practices in the supply chain, which are reflected in its commitment to a net zero value chain by 2050. This involves partnering with suppliers to measure and reduce collective lifecycle emissions.

As part of this strategy, Lion has committed to use 100 per cent renewable electricity to brew its beers by 2025 and has further stretched itself by adapting its existing science-based target to limit global warming to under 1.5 degrees. This sets a reduction target of 55 per cent by 2030 for its direct emissions from a 2019 baseline. The circular economy concept is embedded in Lion’s business performance and targets, as well as parent company Kirin Holdings’ Environmental Vision 2050.

The judges note that Lion has already made good progress.

Since 2015, it has achieved a 28 per cent absolute reduction in its carbon footprint. It has become the first large-scale carbon neutral brewer in both Australia and New Zealand and New Zealand’s largest beverage manufacturer to be certified as carbon zero.

One of its core brands, Steinlager, became New Zealand’s first large-scale beer brand to achieve carbon zero certification. To reach this milestone, Lion says it focused on reducing emissions throughout Steinlager’s product lifecycle — from growing the hops and barley, and brewing the beer, to packaging and transport.

Lion has also invested in water efficiency initiatives, reduced its waste, and is making its packaging more recyclable and reusable. Already over 97 per cent of Lion’s packaging materials are recyclable and it is targeting 100 per cent of packaging to be reusable, recyclable, or compostable by 2025.

Finalist: Synlait Milk

Synlait Milk has bold ambitions to be “net positive for the planet” and instrumental in its industry’s response to climate change — a significant feat given agriculture is responsible for 30 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and 70 per cent of freshwater use.

Synlait combines expert farming with state-of-the-art processing to produce a range of nutritional milk products for its global customers. It has put sustainability at the centre of its corporate purpose, and in 2018 set 10-year targets and an aspiration to become B-Corp certified — which it achieved last year.

“When we set these bold goals for ourselves, we didn’t know how we would achieve them,” says Hamish Reid, Synlait Director for Sustainability, Brand, Beverages and Cream.

“We are on track to beat our targets that no one thought we would achieve, and beat the timeframe as well. It’s an example of when you are really brave and put yourself out there, people galvanise around that.”

The Top 200 judges say Synlait’s executives are backing ESG strongly, and as a result the company scores well on these metrics.

“In a challenging year for the company, its focus on sustainability has not waned and it remains an industry leader with ambitious ESG targets,” says Top 200 judge Ross George.

“These are ambitious targets, both on-farm and off-farm, and have recently been updated under the Science Based Targets initiative.”

One of these targets is a reduction in emissions from the manufacturing process. Synlait is transitioning to renewable energy and has committed to not build another coal-fired manufacturing facility. A trial last year to replace a coal boiler with renewable biomass has progressed to become a permanent project.

“We now have a very clear path forward. From next financial year, we are commencing our rapid transition off coal,” says Reid. “Our original intention was early next decade, but we now think this will be entirely feasible as early as 2024 or 2025.”

Synlait works with its farmer suppliers to evolve New Zealand’s reputation as a responsible and sustainable producer of food, and help farmers understand how their management of the farm impacts on greenhouse gas emissions.

“This allows us to attract the most innovative farmers that are thinking about the future of the food system and where transitions might be happening,” says Reid. “It immediately gave us a greater supply base, because people were really interested in understanding and working together with the processor on how they might future-proof their businesses for success.”

This has resulted in on-farm emissions intensity, per kg of milk solids, reducing 5 per cent over the last year, or 10 per cent compared to its 2018 base year when its targets were first established.

Total off-farm emissions have remained stable since last year, however the emissions intensity, per kg of product, has reduced by 24 per cent compared to 2018.

“No one thought we would achieve what we have — including ourselves,” says Reid. “We didn’t think it would be possible to reduce our emissions by 10 per cent, and we have already hit the Government’s 2030 target.”

Deloitte Top 200 awards: Top business leaders crowned - NZ Herald

Deloitte Top 200 awards: Top business leaders crowned – NZ Herald

Infratil has been crowned Company of the Year and Skellerup’s David Mair named Chief Executive of the Year at the prestigious Deloitte Top 200 Awards.

Rocket Lab founder, CEO and chief engineer Peter Beck took out the coveted Visionary Leader award.

In its 32nd year, the Deloitte Top 200 Awards are a showcase of the very best of New Zealand business and business leaders. They celebrate the depth and range of our business community, featuring the industries and sectors that underpin our country’s success.

This year, the awards recognise outstanding results despite the ongoing challenges resulting from Covid-19, including companies and leaders from the manufacturing, retail, media, and energy sectors, all showcasing their commercial strength and agility during challenging times.

Infratil had an outstanding year in 2021, further enhancing its reputation as a savvy infrastructure and utilities investor. The company was active with its portfolio, divesting Tilt Renewables and investing in diagnostic imaging firm Pacific Radiology.

The panel of high-profile judges — convened by NZME editorial director of business Fran O’Sullivan — said Infratil’s combination of strong performances with its investment companies, especially data centres, along with its divestments and new acquisitions have added significant shareholder value over 2021.

“In addition, the company went through a fairly seamless transition of CEO from Marko Bogoievski to Jason Boyes and won the takeover battle with Aussie Super,” say the judges.

Infrastructure: Auckland's light rail project poised to take a major step (NZ Herald)

Infrastructure: Auckland’s light rail project poised to take a major step (NZ Herald)

Before the end of this year, the Government will decide on the route, mode, and delivery for the project for the light rail project, which will run between Auckland’s city centre and Māngere, connecting major employment hubs in the city and the airport at each end.

Transport Minister Michael Wood acknowledges the decision has been a long time coming. He first launched the promise of light rail during his campaign for the Mount Roskill by-election in 2016 which brought him into Parliament. Labour campaigned on light rail at the 2017 election, but the move was stymied by Labour’s coalition partner New Zealand First in the last term of Government.

“It is no secret that it was in a fairly challenging stage at the end of the last term, and it had the political knockback between parties,” Wood says. “We had to have a reset which is effectively what happened this year. But it’s put us in a good position to take it to the next stage.”

The three options under consideration are:

• Light rail, a modern tram on city streets;
• Light metro, underground in a tunnel under the isthmus, and underground in Māngere and Onehunga, and at street level in other areas; and
• Tunnelled light rail, underground from Wynyard Quarter to Mt Roskill, and then up at street level to Auckland airport.

They were chosen after an assessment by the Auckland Light Rail team from over 50 different options for modes and routes against the project’s three objectives: improving accessibility, reducing Auckland’s carbon footprint, and unlocking urban development in the corridor.

Not a simple decision