EDITOR’S LETTER : Kiwis who inspire

I’m fortunate to talk each week to some of New Zealand’s best minds in business and industry, and I’m incredibly heartened and humbled by what I find.
You only have to scratch the surface of Kiwi CEO to find someone who wants to make difference. It’s extraordinary how many of our leaders think about the identity of New Zealand as nation and how they and their companies can play part in making this country great.
One optimistic operator in the sustainability area told me: “Every Kiwi seems to have the green gene.” I’m sure he’s right. He’s using his for the betterment of the environment (page 14).
Another leader in the prime of his career talked about ‘authentic leadership’ that role-models the kind of culture and social responsibility you want to see in your business. He volunteers in budgeting service (page 32).
But one fact that surprised me as I was researching the world of banking for this issue was the financial illiteracy of so many Kiwis. It’s obvious when you think about it. We send our children out into the world unprepared for the realities of budgeting and investing and then feel surprised that we’re not national of savers.
The crisis of confidence created by the global recession is being addressed by regulation, which is fine thing, but I believe Kiwis won’t be truly financially secure until they have the skills they need to understand how to build wealth and prepare for retirement.
We need business owners who are prepared to invest in their ideas and take them global. We need visionaries who show how leadership can create strong and proud companies. And finally, we need senior managers in business to look at their companies as functioning part of the New Zealand landscape, and consider the wider choices they can make in their communities.
As we continue our Top 200 Theme series, ‘Understanding the New World’, with an analysis of the banking landscape post-global financial crisis, we hope that business and industry will work together to encourage Kiwis to learn more about investment and building financial security.

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