Chairperson of the Year : Alison Paterson

Being the first woman to receive QBE’s 2010 Chairperson of Year award is another first in long and impressive list of accomplishments for Alison Paterson. She won this Top 200 award for her many years of outstanding leadership of wide range of New Zealand private and public sector enterprises and organisations. And the judges specifically acknowledged her inspired leadership of Abano Healthcare in recent years.
Other current chair roles include Farm IQ, primary growth partnership; the University of Auckland’s National Centre for Growth and Development; New Zealand’s (medical) Best Practice Advocacy Centre and Stevenson Agriculture. She has, in the past, chaired Waitemata Health and Landcorp. She was the first woman to become New Zealand public company director and has sat on the boards of some of the country’s most august organisations, including 15 years on the Reserve Bank board. She was made Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in this year’s honours list in recognition of her service to business.
The award judges this year’s acknowledged Paterson’s undoubted professional skills and inspired leadership capabilities. But they also commented on her personal humility and humanity, trait also noted by Alan Clarke, managing director, Abano Healthcare.
“She treats all with the same level of respect and always takes time to say hello to support staff, listen attentively and be genuinely engaged in conversations with them,” says Clarke.
“She operates her boards by consensus and encourages everyone to speak freely, challenge ideas and explore options. However, she is clear on the fine line between management responsibility and governance and once direction is chosen she will defend that decision to the hilt with will of steel… and in game of blink, she wins!”

Judges Comments:
Winner
Alison Paterson

As the past and present chair of number of New Zealand’s largest private and public sector enterprises, Alison Paterson is acknowledged by her peers as an outstanding leader. She is dedicated to best practice governance, forging partnerships with chief executives and other board members to ensure enterprises she leads perform to the highest governance standards. She is prepared to make tough decisions and big calls when it is in the interests of the organisation and its stakeholders to do so. She is, said the judges, an outstanding chairperson and inspirational team leader.


Finalist
Sir John Anderson

Because of his exceptional leadership skills, Sir John has effectively become the nation’s organisational “Mr Fix It”. And fix it, he invariably does. It is doubtful whether any other chair has been handed so many difficult and diverse governance leadership roles – from television, to health, the meat industry, banking and, of course, sporting organisations. Little wonder he is so highly regarded by his peers as an effective chair. Sir John is, said the judges, an outstanding chairman and industry leader.


Finalist
Sir Henry van der Heyden

Sir Henry van der Heyden has again proved that he deserves to be recognised as one of New Zealand’s most effective and successful chairs. His leadership of Fonterra’s renewed capital restructuring in 2010 was impressive, said the judges. He led from the front to complete complex and controversial exercise. His chairmanship of New Zealand’s largest dairy industry cooperative is delivering robust and increasingly successful global enterprise.

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