Inbox: A Voyce for youth

When Lauren Voyce joined the senior leadership team at McDonald’s NZ she was just 26 years old. Her role as youthful head of HR and talent chimes well with predominantly Gen Y 10,000-person workforce where she’s already made significant improvements to both employee retention and talent management practices.
Now she’s been picked as this year’s northern region New Zealand Institute of Management (NZIM) / Eagle Technology Young Executive of the Year. The awards, longstanding feature of New Zealand’s business landscape, recognise and celebrate the talents of New Zealand’s executives aged 35 and under.
In taking out the award, Voyce faced stiff competition from talented field of young executives.
McDonald’s NZ MD Patrick Wilson says Voyce has already been recognised by McDonald’s globally for her innovative approach to people practices. Several of her initiatives are being adopted for roll out in other major markets.
She was one of three HR leaders from all 37 countries in the firm’s Asia Pacific Middle East and Africa (APMEA) region to be awarded an Outstanding HR Leadership Award. And the New Zealand HR department won the APMEA HR Team of the Year.
Voyce leads the McDonald’s NZ people team. She is responsible for human resources, training, learning and development, and talent management for McDonald’s 160 restaurants in NZ and 12 restaurants across the Pacific Islands (Fiji, Samoa, American Samoa, Tahiti and New Caledonia).
McDonald’s is one of New Zealand’s largest employers of youth, with over 65 percent of its employees aged under 25. As member of the senior leadership team, Voyce is jointly responsible for establishing the long-term business strategy for the New Zealand business.
Wilson says Voyce also “consults with and influences our 54 franchisee owners: all highly skilled business owners in their own right, in order to be able to deliver the business strategy”.
Since joining McDonald’s, Voyce has overseen complete overhaul of all HR and talent processes, providing more rigour and process in performance management and personal development.
“The significant improvement in the people part of our business,” says Wilson, “saw us recognised, for the first time, as Retail Employer of the Year (large employer) for 2011.
“The improvement has also, without doubt, contributed to 41 percent improvement in our customer satisfaction scores and ultimately broader business results.”
Voyce will now go forward to the Young Executive of the Year nationwide selections later this year. She will compete with other regional winners to determine who will be this year’s NZIM/Eagle Technology Young Executive of the Year.
The result will be revealed at the Deloitte/Management magazine Top 200 Awards on Thursday 29 November. To find out more and book seat:

Ones to watch
A six-strong field of talented young executives has emerged as the finalists in this year’s Northern region New Zealand Institute of Management (NZIM) / Eagle Technology Young Executive of the Year.

This year’s top northern regional prize went to McDonald’s NZ head of HR and talent Lauren Voyce. (See article “A Voyce for youth”.)

The awards, which recognise and celebrate the achievements of New Zealand’s executives aged 35 and under, have long served as an early indicator system for New Zealand’s future talent.

This year’s regional finalists span the tourism, education, dairy, telecommunications and services sectors.

Matt Harvey
National operations manager rentals NZ, Tourism Holdings (THL)

Nominated by his CEO Grant Webster:
“Matt has been identified by the executive and board of Tourism Holdings as very high potential leader for THL. Given the right exposure, support and empowerment we believe he will most likely be leading New Zealand company in the future.
“He has revamped the way in which THL deals with its revenue information management and retail pricing processes, both of which are critical areas within the business. And he has created systems and processes to support the operations of the business to achieve our strategic goals. The operational improvements in many areas such as increased add-on sales can be linked back to the change in approach enacted by Matt.”
The judges said Harvey is:
•A quiet confident achiever.
•An excellent leader who believes in empowering and supporting his team to success.
•A clever analyst who has used his skills to provide useful data in way that is understandable and usable for all in the company.

James Robinson
Director, Au Pair Link

Nominated by Au Pair Link CEO Cecelia Robinson:
“James has lead Au Pair Link from small start-up company to one of the largest au pair companies in the world (top five percent).
“He joined Au Pair Link in June 2007 to assist the company in its commercial and operational goals. He was accepted into, and graduated from, the Icehouse Business Incubation programme, working closely with NZ Trade & Enterprise and SPARK. James is specialist in technology, governance, negotiations, operational processes, marketing and new product development.”
The judges said Robinson:
•Is strong focus-driven visionary and bold young executive.
•Has an ability to embrace new leading technology. His case study on use of cloud technology has been recognised by Microsoft worldwide.

Jo Southland
Student support manager, Wintec

Nominated by Wintec director support and marketing Warwick Pitts:
“Jo’s contribution and progression at Wintec has been significant and she has been recognised in the inaugural talent management programme at Wintec. senior manager in the student experience team, her efforts have resulted in raft of business process improvements and profound culture change in student support services.”
The judges commented Southland is:
•Really passionate about improving the Wintec student experience. Her strategies have increased student success and retention which has made significant financial contribution to Wintec.
•Passionate about people empowerment. She proactively coaches her team to succeed.
•A quiet focused influencer with an ability to research offshore to bring in increased contribution to revenue.

Tommy Liu
Finance manager, Open Country Dairy

Nominated by CFO Malikah Mitha:
“Tommy is an integral member of the finance team and has recently been identified as high performer within the company. Whilst he has tremendous commercial strengths, he also fully understands the business’ key drivers for success and recommends strategic options for the senior management team.
“Tommy has an acute understanding of information systems and champions the administration area for our main operating system, Microsoft Navision. He has been actively involved in rolling out Navision and other reporting tools in our business.
“Tommy was instrumental in developing systems and processes within the finance department in the formative years of Open Country Dairy. The company has grown tenfold since his arrival, and he continues to ensure our systems and processes evolve and improve.”
The judges noted Liu is:
•A totally goal-focused financial executive who brings numbers to life.
•Hungry for business success. His good understanding of his business means he is looking for ways in which the finance department can add value to the business.
•A totally goal-oriented finance manager who uses his inclusive leadership style and sense of humour to lead his team.

Lee Hare
Franchise director, Quest Hamilton

Nominated by her mentor Darius Singh:
“In the space of few years Lee has made key contributions in her senior marketing portfolio. She founded the Bay Young Professionals group on her own accord. short while after taking maternity leave for her new twins she embarked on another challenge: owning and operating Quest Hamilton.

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