TOP 200 : NZIM/Eagle Technology Young Executive of the Year – David Larsen

It’s often during times of adversity that natural leaders come to the fore – and David Larsen’s influence on his employer, RayGlass, was clearly evident in recovery strategy he developed and implemented after disastrous fire destroyed the company’s lamination plant in 2008.
Within 24 hours, his sales team were back on deck and doing business and the 31-year-old acted quickly to shift staff efforts – either into the clean up and rebuild or through maintenance programme instituted for existing customers.
“It kept things ticking over and meant we didn’t have to lay off any staff,” says Larsen.
Having started his career as boat builder – making his mark as Top Trades and Apprentice of the Year – Larsen soon proved he was very able to take the helm in business. In 2003 he was made leader of the service department before moving into sales and marketing role. These days he heads this crucial part of the business and his initiative, drive and results in both the domestic and export markets have helped the company successfully ride out rough economic weather.
Larsen who is due to complete his MBA next year notes that while trade isn’t necessarily the traditional path into management, the ability to sell boats rests on an intimate knowledge of the product.
“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.”
He’s credited with establishing an exceptional service orientation to clients. The fact that the Boating Industry Association benchmarks processes on RayGlass’ production line confirms Larsen’s attention to detail and his focus on positive working environment.
He has also worked hard to achieve collaborative culture throughout all seven departments and the senior management team at RayGlass. With his depth and breadth of experience across the business, he has been well-placed to develop cross-functional approach to strategy and decision-making.
As Larsen says, the old-style of hierarchical management is not his thing – he describes his style of management 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 out of all my staff, it’s really important we make decisions together as team – that way we’re all involved and everyone is happy. We all want to be here.”
Earlier this year Larsen beat off some stiff competition from six other candidates to become the first person in the marine industry to earn the northern region NZIM/Eagle Technology Executive of the Year title. He had, said judge Kevin Gaunt (CEO, NZIM Northern), 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.”
As to his own reaction to the recognition, Larsen is delighted – both for himself and his industry.
“I’m really stoked. This is first for the marine industry and it’s really good for RayGlass.”

JUDGES COMMENTS
WINNER : David Larsen
Sales & Marketing Manager
RayGlass Boats

David Larsen’s trade apprenticeship route to senior management position at Auckland’s RayGlass Boats has provided him with an intimate knowledge of the product he is now charged with selling, to New Zealand and the world. At just 31, David has an astute understanding of his industry, customers’ needs and his own ability to deliver on his strategic objectives. He is natural leader with passion to succeed. He plans, executes and takes the team with him. He is confident, sincere and self aware and thinks about the needs of his co-workers and his customers. David has also shown an ability to manage and think strategically in times of difficulty. He thinks into the future and keeps focused by planning. He is an impressive young leader who knows where he wants to go and is bound to succeed.

FINALIST : Tracey Berry
General Manager Wealth, Kiwibank

Wellington-based Tracey Berry always wanted career in banking. She is now just 34 years old, holds key, senior management position with Kiwibank’s head office, has established two businesses of her own and enjoys spending time with her three children and an equally high-achieving husband. Tracey says, in an extraordinarily understated admission, that she is “action oriented and likes to get things done”. She is dynamic, highly intelligent, endlessly motivated, leader who is team player. She is passionate about her job and Kiwibank. The judges agree with her Kiwibank CEO Sam Knowles who, in nominating her for this award, said Tracey “has enormous potential for her (chosen) future career”.

FINALIST : Dan Coward
Area Manager, Christchurch Metro Group, NZ Fire Service

Dan Coward represents the new generation of leaders emerging in the senior ranks of the New Zealand Fire Service and the judges of this year’s award predict that the Christchurch-based area commander will “go far”. Dan is driven, focused and thrives on the challenge of leading change within traditional organisational structure. He thinks strategically and has initiated important working relationships between his organisation and its external community partners. In addition to his leadership role in the Service, Dan finds time to mentor others and still spend time with his family of two children. The judges believe Dan is effectively leading and introducing new approach in generally change-resistant environment and will succeed at the task.

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