The Last Word: Andrew Ferrier

 

To make the most of its global business opportunities New Zealand’s companies need to take leaf out of Fonterra’s book, Ferrier argues. The cooperative is, says Ferrier, “a spectacular example of New Zealand recognising what it takes to lead in the global environment”. Having fractious industry fighting among itself for market access does not work.

“We must concentrate resources; get scale to be truly competitive. That is certainly true of the dairy industry. However, we are not successful simply because we are big. But being large means having the funds to invest in our brand, research and development and our ingredients. That investment distances us from our competitors,” he says.

On the other hand, he acknowledges that New Zealanders are ingenious and clever at finding market and product niches and exploiting them in the international marketplace. “So while on the one hand scale delivers competitive advantage, on the other being small, clever and nimble has also served New Zealand well,” says Ferrier.

At the top end of world-class executive talent we still have way to go, says Ferrier. “We have had to fill more of the senior leadership positions in Fonterra with non-New Zealanders than I would have preferred. Our criteria required that we employ the best possible people we could get.

“I would like to think that businesses such as ours can assist in the development of that level of leadership competency. We are helping to create the leaders and managers of the future. The large companies in the private sector are obliged to do that.”

Extract from an interview with Reg Birchfield.

 

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