Standout young leaders

Meet the three finalists in the IMNZ/Eagle Technology Young Executive of the Year Award 2015. They are Taryn Hamilton, the consumer general manager at M2 NZ; Daniel Warsaw, the general manager, business and partnerships at Wellington Zoo and Craig West the general manager – northern region at Downer NZ. 

Taryn Hamilton is the consumer general manager at M2 NZ. He joined the business as the general manager of Slingshot in August 2013 and earlier this year, Australian telco M2 purchased Slingshot’s parent company CallPlus. Under M2, Hamilton has been promoted to his current role and is now responsible for the company’s three retails brands: Slingshot, Orcon and Flip.

At Slingshot he worked to re-ignite the business’ growth and leading a team of 175 (across service, sales, marketing and product) he produced substantial net gain, in a highly competitive market.

He harnessed the company’s competitive and challenger spirit, and introduced substantial change into the organisation.

Hamilton tells Management that as a leader he tries to be as visible as he can at all times and as honest and direct as he can be. It’s important to be decisive, he says, and not shrink at making decisions. That said he tries to be as collaborative as possible.

He has a team of people he trusts and he values their opinions. “While we are a big business, we are a tightknit team and there is very little bureaucracy,” which suits him.
Hamilton says he is not a person who plans his career ahead with ambitious goals, but he is happy with how his career has progressed.

Hamilton says he has been given lots of opportunities and undertook an MBA mid-way through his career.

Asked what advice he’d give to other young managers, Hamilton says what has worked for him is backing his own opinion. If he has thoughts on a particular issue, he is happy to have a tough conversation and says it is really important for junior managers looking to climb through the ranks to make sure they are visible and stand behind their opinions.
He says as a senior manager is it important to foster the idea that no one has got all the answers, it is really important to value different opinions and perspectives. 

Daniel Warsaw is the general manager, business and partnerships at Wellington Zoo, a role he came to after a 15 year career at ASB Bank, where his final role was premium banking centre manager and he was the Wellington-based liaison for ASB’s sponsorship of the zoo.

In the nearly two years he has been at the zoo, Warsaw has worked hard to apply business strategy and techniques to grow the not-for-profit organisation, all the while being mindful of the zoo’s social and environmental mission. In his tenure to date he has helped transform the zoo’s commercial operations and refocus its revenue model.
He has created a strategy that focuses on driving sustainable growth in revenue with the goal of doubling commercial revenue over a three year period. And the results to date are impressive with strong growth in retail revenues, use of the zoo as a venue and growing participation from the Wellington community.

Warsaw told Management he enjoyed the fact he was able to use his commercial skills in a not-for-profit environment and make a difference for a bigger cause. He sees the zoo as an organisation that uses business and commercial objectives to achieve its mission.

“For us, as a zoo, our strategic mission is to ignite a revolution in zoos,” and show what a good zoo can do in the preservation of endangered species.

He is very aware that while his role is to grow the commercial side of the business, he needs to be respectful of the zoo’s wider social and environmental concerns.

“My role is around generating revenue to help the zoo achieve its mission.”

Asked about his strengths, Warsaw says authenticity. People know the type of person he is and the type of professional relationships he wants to have and he works to really get to know people, understand people and understand their wants and needs and goals.

His ultimate goal is to be a leader of an organisation that is making a difference, whether than is in the not-for-profit sector or in the commercial sector.

Wellington Zoo is the world’s first Carbon Zero certified zoo and Warsaw says sustainability is at the heart of what the zoo does, positioning itself as a clear leader for a sustainable future – financially, socially and environmentally.

Craig West is the general manager – northern region, Infrastructure Services, Downer NZ where he oversees more than 700 people working on infrastructure projects throughout the region. Over the past four years he has stepped up to three significant promotions. The first was maintenance manager for Downer’s Bay of Plenty/ Waikato operation, then a promotion to lead Downer’s maintenance and operations sector across the Upper North Island. A year ago he stepped into his current role, overseeing an important part of the Downer operation.

He has been instrumental in driving and embedding change into the business and helping people to focus on collaborating across multi-businesses to achieve a positive outcome, with a strong focus on safety, quality and environment.

He has also championed front line leadership initiatives such as the Maori Leadership programme, partnering with Te Puni Kokiri, ITO’s and other sectors of the Downer business. 

West is a former professional rugby player (Waikato Chiefs and Maori All Blacks).

Asked by Management about where he sees his future, West says it is not so much about where you go “but what legacy do you want you leave”. 

He says his strengths lie in his people skills and the ability to influence people. Some of his workforce have been in their roles for decades and the industry is seeing a cultural shift with changing demands on people. They need to understand the benefits of moving from a command and control model to shared responsibility. West’s father worked for Downer for many years and he is attune to the industry and appreciates the people in it.

He doesn’t have a fixed office and hot desks around the 12 different offices he oversees. Leadership, he says, is feeling the pulse of the business, and the hearts and minds of the workforce.

West is an advocate of “focus on the inputs and the results will follow”. And, he says, civil engineering is the foundation of a civilised society explaining that everything that is core to society has been touched by it – water quality, water treatment, transport, buildings. Our quality of life is, in some way, influenced by civil engineering.


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