INTOUCH : Managers Abroad

Grant Kreft
CEO, Americas

What prompted you to seek work outside New Zealand?
I was born and raised in the small Central Otago farming town of Ranfurly and from young age was always interested in travelling and working abroad.

Can you provide brief sketch of your current role?
I oversee the development, growth and profitability of Intuition in the Americas region. Historically we have focused on the finance vertical although through continued investment in R&D, timing and little luck of the Irish (we are headquartered in Dublin), we are experiencing strong growth in other vertical markets, as our products and services now cut across most Fortune 500 companies, which are our primary targets.

How does it fit into your career path?
Having started as junior account executive at the Otago Daily Times, coached rugby for living, started and sold small marketing company, owned and operated an Irish bar, dabbled with mortgage broking and real estate (all in Dallas, Texas with the exception of the ODT), worked for software start-up and then as consultant in London before joining Intuition, I’m not sure my working history equates to traditional career path! The common thread to my experiences to date would be people – more importantly getting the best out of people – and this is the most critical element of my role. key prerequisite to success is creating culture and environment that all your team wants to be part of.

What are its main challenges?
In recession we are faced with many challenges. We have real focus on our cost base so balancing our (unexpected) growth without compromising the support we provide our existing clients continues to be the major challenge.

What are three learnings you will take from it?
DNA is equally as important as education. Recruiting people with the right make-up (attitude, work ethic, sense of humour, street smarts etc) is key – you can always provide the tools to ensure people succeed but they must have the right DNA to begin with.
Don’t pigeon hole – it is important to get the right people on the school bus, but be open to letting time determine where they sit and what role they ultimately end up in.
Be consistent.

How do you now view New Zealand both as country and economic/business environment?
As country there is no better place and I am incredibly proud to be Kiwi. New Zealanders are respected and revered for their work ethic, friendliness and willingness to help out. If I could hire only Kiwis I would, however there is that little thing called visa which gets in the way. We consistently produce intelligent, hard-working, street smart people, yet with all this knowledge capital (internally and abroad) I feel we are punching below where we should be punching on the international stage.

What sort of ongoing contribution/involvement do you or would you like to make to New Zealand’s economic future?
I joined the board of KEA when I arrived in New York in October 2005 and although the time commitment becomes juggling act at times, the reward is tangible and exciting. Our flagship event – New Zealand, New York, New Thinking – attracts over 350 people who participate in an interactive panel discussion with CEOs from New Zealand companies succeeding in the US.In the pipeline are number of events (business, arts and social) with the goal to raise enough greenbacks to create scholarship fund, which will allow KEA to bring young New Zealanders over to the US to study. Also on the list of things to tackle for KEA New York is the formation of an ‘Invest in New Zealand Group’ with the core objective of attracting investment into New Zealand by US companies and high net worth individuals.

Grant Kreft is member of KEA – New Zealand’s global talent community.

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