Craig Norgate has, in fact, been king pin at New Zealand’s newest and largest corporate enterprise, since July. But Fonterra Co-operative Group becomes “official” this month and so Norgate’s reign as chief executive of the nation’s $12 billion dairy industry giant is effectively just beginning. You could say Monday, October 1, 2001 was his coronation day. From Management’s viewpoint this edition of our magazine was the right time to start the editorial clock ticking on career move that we will observe with great interest. For the purposes of this first report on Norgate’s management style, strategies and priorities we turned to long time agricultural industry writer, editor and observer Hugh Stringleman. He talked to his industry contacts, academics, observers and some of Norgate’s peers to compile an insightful report on the new dairy king.
There are good reasons to keep weather eye on this successor to the throne of New Zealand’s kingdom of commercial enterprise. He is, like it or not, an important role model. New Zealand’s recent management record in the global marketplace is not studded with much success unless, of course, you count those of our peers who lead legions in other far-off principalities. The directors of Fonterra have anointed local lad to do battle with some of the most battle-hardened generals of the trading world and we don’t need another Fletcher Challenge or Air New Zealand to tell us we can’t foot it. There is growing volume of anecdotal evidence that suggests widening gap between managerial potential and performance in New Zealand. Successful case studies are always more compelling and revealing to observe than is studying the entrails of another fallen hero. So the leadership of Craig Norgate is, from variety of perspectives, important to watch. It is equally important that he succeed and that we encourage him to do so.
There is second layer to our cover story. Given Air New Zealand’s revelations of recent weeks we should equally chart the governance performance of Fonterra’s board of directors. Scepticism of the composition and capabilities of the board abounds and, given the league in which this new company will play and the performance of some of our other “experienced” directors of recent years, who could be surprised? Leaders – managers and directors – must take the process of learning their trade and measuring their performance against the best in the world much more to heart if we are to compete successfully in global marketplace. But this is more the theme of next month’s issue of Management.
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