AS I SEE IT : Simon Tong, CEO of Paymark

How would you describe the New Zealand identity?

The passing of Sir Edmund Hillary recently provides us with timely reminder of what many New Zealanders admire and aspire to be. Humble and gracious but with steely determination to succeed regardless of the odds. We are people well known for our down-to-earth, friendly nature and practical outlook on life.

What is our next major challenge?

In an economic and business sense I believe the single biggest challenge we face is how to compete more effectively on the global stage. Traditionally our trade has been based on our primary sector, but we have been slow to develop other avenues for trade. Our isolation and relatively slow progress towards forming international economic links is hindrance. We seem unclear on what other sectors we can and should be competing in.

What do we need to do to prepare ourselves?

The media often publicises the “brain drain” and the flight of so many Kiwis to Australia is clear indication that we do not have an environment at home conducive to building our full capability. It is highly skilled people working in companies that have products and services desired on the international stage that will help us address this challenge. We need greater investment in R&D and more funding support for New Zealand businesses working to create offshore markets.

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