Intouch: Dave Larsen: Building success

After starting his working life as boat builder, 31-year-old Dave Larsen has proved he can capably take the helm when it comes to running sales team – an accomplishment that’s earned him this year’s NZIM/Eagle Technology Young Executive of The Year title for NZIM’s northern region.
Against keen competition from six other candidates Larsen became the first person from the marine industry to take title that, as judge Kevin Gaunt noted, recognises the country’s best young leaders. Larsen, he said, has impressed in number of ways.
“He has proved to be innovative and successful and has coped extremely well in adverse situations. Perhaps more importantly he adopts very strategic viewpoint; he clearly thinks long way into the future and has great planning ability.”
Larsen who is due to complete his MBA next year notes that while trade isn’t necessarily the traditional path to management, the ability to sell boats rests on knowing the product “like the back of your hand”.
“You really need to have very very good understanding not only of the product you’re dealing with and selling but also competitors’ products as everything is built little differently.”
As someone who spent time on the shop floor not only building boats but engines and electronic systems, Larsen has no trouble on that front.
He has also proved his resourcefulness when the Rayglass factory burned down in 2008 – helping create strategies that kept sales team and showroom staff in useful work until the factory could be rebuilt.
As head of the sales and marketing division, his approach has led to “an exceptional service orientation to clients” and he is described as having “worked hard to achieve collaborative culture” throughout the group – influencing all seven departments as well as the senior management team.
Larsen describes his own leadership style as “dynamic”.
“We run dynamic model – we all make decisions together, collectively. I will present any big decisions or changes of strategy to the board but everyone is involved. For me to get the most of all my staff, it’s really important we make decisions together as team. It’s not like an old style hierarchical system – we’re all involved and everyone’s happy. We all want to be here.”
Other finalists in the northern region were Thomas Salmen (Orcon), Jason Dawson (Northland Regional Council), Jeremy Gibbons (Opus International), Calandra Smith (Bizzone), John Kaczon (Opus) and Andrew Edwards (Transpacific Industrial Solutions).

More information on winners and finalists in other regions is in Focus on Management.
The overall YEYA winner will be announced at the Deloitte/Management magazine Top 200 Awards dinner being held at Sky City Convention Centre on Thursday November 26.
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