As I See It: Hamish McBeath

What are New Zealand’s major challenges for 2012?
In the immediate future, New Zealand must learn to adapt to the changing global economy. Some of our traditional trading partners’ economies are likely to be weak for some time, so we need to invest wisely and look for opportunities in non-traditional markets.
Businesses can become insular under pressure, and narrow in their thinking as traditional markets underperform. It’s important to look outwards and stay open to possibilities; to actively seek opportunities to diversify and expand in to new markets.
Growing GDP and offshore earnings is essential for New Zealand to regain positive growth position.

How well prepared are Kiwi business leaders to face these challenges?
In general, New Zealand is well positioned around good governance and managing through tight fiscal periods. Kiwis have history of being pioneering, resilient generalists who can take on most challenges.
Our leaders need to maintain that entrepreneurial spirit while evolving to more international focus and way of doing business. It’s important for leaders to challenge current business models and identify the most effective structures and strategies to move forward.
We need to identify the areas where we can compete and lead the way, and focus our time and resources on becoming world leading in areas where we can win.

What more could we do as country to thrive in the current global economic climate?
I’m keen exporter, and I think New Zealand needs to look further, globally, for opportunities. We have been successful in agriculture, dairy and some tech areas, but we haven’t taken full advantage of our manufacturing knowledge.
Due to our small economy, our manufacturing sector has developed the ability to produce small order quantities and customised product offerings. In my experience, globally there is demand for this customised product offering, and large economies will pay for this service. M

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