Managers Abroad: An engaging expat

Stephen Dee has lived outside NZ for 24 of the last 30 years. For much of his career he has worked in the live entertainment industry, having run opera companies, managed and programmed theatres and concert halls, and been involved in producing operas and concerts, music festivals, touring shows and West End musical. Dee has lived in London for 7½ years, and for the past 15 months has been UK Regional Manager for Kea. At the end of 2011, he is returning to take up position at Kea HQ in Auckland.

What prompted you to seek work out of New Zealand?
Well, I’m something of serial expat because I’ve left New Zealand three times over the last 30 years! Each time, I have left to take up opportunities that were not available to me in New Zealand.

Can you provide sketch of your current role?
Kea has regional managers in the US, China, Australia and the UK – that’s me. The job is about finding ways for expats to engage with New Zealand and contribute towards its growth, whether through mentoring and helping companies that are trying to expand internationally, or by investing in New Zealand enterprises or by moving back and running businesses that generate employment and tax revenue.

What are its main challenges?
Because this is sole charge operation, the main challenge is trying to figure out how to generate the best value from limited resource (ie, my time). We have 8000 members in the UK, and it’s important to try to run programme that makes engagement easy for as many people as possible. In addition to running variety of events through the year, I have chosen to replace the monthly newsletter with fact-filled weekly e-shot that is designed to be read on smartphone during three tube-stop commute.

How do you view New Zealand both as country and economic/business entity from where you stand now?
Whereas I often feel that the UK is being dragged down by the dead weight of history and tradition, New Zealand has cast off its colonial shackles and its institutionalised lack of ambition. It has fast-developing entrepreneurial culture, and developing understanding of how to succeed globally without sacrificing quality of life. New Zealand is realising that it has to think smart, run fast and get out in the world in order to get ahead. We’ll get there. The future is all positive. M

Visited 14 times, 1 visit(s) today
Close Search Window