Top 200 Thinking: Jeremy Moon

Many New Zealand businesses still have an old-fashioned way of approaching the world. They make stuff and then go out to sell it, instead of intentionally trying to build international businesses from New Zealand.

Export is old school. International businesses that glocalise is how all great global companies win. Glocalising is creating global concept that is executed locally by local people. Many people here think of Cadbury, Vodafone and Subaru as New Zealand companies, but they are international companies with New Zealand presence that is relevant to our culture.

Under this model, intellectual property is created where the ownership is based, and local jobs are created through headquarters. But the businesses are run in the market with local experts. At Icebreaker, we have 100 Kiwis in Wellington and more than 200 people offshore, about 30 of whom are Kiwis. We have eight offices globally, all run by local experts, and all the profits come back to New Zealand. You don’t buy Toyota Hilux from sales rep in Tokyo, yet every Hilux sold in New Zealand enriches its owners in Tokyo.

People say, ‘but can’t we do it all ourselves?’ That’s nonsense. It’s backward parochial thinking and hugely limiting. The idea that the world will come to us is bullshit because New Zealand has to connect with the world to be relevant. Other than that, we are just mountains and sheep – cool, but not enough.

I’m chairman of an organisation within New Zealand Trade and Enterprise called Better by Design. We work with over 100 leading New Zealand businesses, which together contribute over $4 billion to the economy. I admire all these businesses because they have made commitment to do what they are doing better, to find new markets to make their products more relevant, and to find new ways of connecting with customers – with an international mindset and using design thinking.

The success of this business model relies on unlocking the value of New Zealand. We have everything here and our country is hugely attractive to other people, yet we have government that is currently not committed to sufficiently raising environmental standards. We have polluted rivers and waterways and ‘she’ll be right’ attitude to the environment. It’s disrespectful at best, but very harmful at worst.

I urge anyone who cares about this issue to join group of leading New Zealand businesspeople and sign up to our site Pure Advantage (www.pureadvantage.org.nz). It is possible for New Zealand to be the purest country in the world, and that will bring premium to products and services created here.

New Zealanders are resourceful people. We are open and honest, we are trusted, and we are very hard working. This is an incredible country to build anything from, but it takes bigger vision than the current prevailing mindset, which is: small is OK.

We need bigger businesses. They pay more, create more jobs and inspire others. We need opportunities for our young people, who want high paying jobs in the new economy. They want to be involved in the design and innovation and technology, they want to be challenged and they want to make an impact on the world.

I urge us all to dream bigger. We need to be more ambitious about developing unique offerings that make name for us internationally. We need to take on the big competitors and work relentlessly until we have achieved genuine breakthrough.

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