Simon Clarke’s experience in a widely diverse range of governance roles makes him well qualified to comment on leadership issues. His roles in the Bay of Plenty in particular provide a valuable insight into leadership issues specifically related to the region.
What does it take to be an exceptional business leader?
The exceptional leaders that I’ve had the benefit of working for (and learning from) largely focus on one thing….and that’s people.
If you nurture, develop, empower, and trust your staff they remain highly engaged and that engagement and positive culture shines through to your customers and the communities in which your business operates.
What tips do you have for other BOP business leaders?
Double down on your investment in your people and your organisational culture. The war for talent is on and human capital is scarce.
Highly engaged passionate people that are aligned to the purpose of your organisation will always be your main competitive advantage.
BOP leaders should be leveraging the natural advantages (lifestyle, climate, quality of life) of the BOP to attract and retain talent.
The other thing I’d say is that organisations should be designing their services (or products) from the customer/consumer back, as well as digitising and automating all their systems and processes. All businesses need to be digital businesses and you need a strategy for a digital business not a digital strategy.
Like people, technology also needs to be considered as an “investment” not a “cost”.
Investing in technology and digitisation not only creates massive productivity improvements it also leads to infinitely better customer and user/staff experiences. It also creates opportunities for further innovation and new business models.
This is a road that Bay Venues has already started on and I’m excited to be able to provide their highly capable team with strategic direction in this area.
What are the big opportunities you see for new business growth in the region?
The Bay of Plenty is an exciting area to be in and I think it presents lots of opportunities for sustainable business growth across several sectors.
We obviously have an advantage being in the golden triangle (Auckland-Hamilton-Tauranga) and have a world class port in the Port of Tauranga. We also have a very strong horticultural and agriculture pedigree across the region and those sectors have been going well.
On top of these traditional advantages, we also have a burgeoning technology and innovation sector and the arrival of the University of Waikato campus into Tauranga is adding some impetus to that.
The investments through the Provincial Growth fund in the Eastern BOP and in Rotorua have also created some great opportunities in those areas.
However, notwithstanding the recent growth of the Bay of Plenty economy, our wage rates remain too low relative to other economies (and that is even more so for Māori).
A low average wage rate together with our high house and rent costs has created a big problem in growing inequality and we need to ensure that the “tide of our prosperous economy lifts all boats”.
Businesses can’t stop house price increases, but they can lift wages, create sustainable high wage jobs, and pay people competitive market rates.
There are also some great opportunities for businesses to partner and collaborate to help grow and develop the Māori Economy and provide great investment and employment opportunities for Māori.
We are also lucky enough to have some large Community Trusts in the Bay of Plenty that have significant balance sheets and are always looking for investment opportunities that make a positive impact on the communities they represent.
Simon Clarke | Chair – Bay Venues Ltd
Simon Clarke is a professional Director and strategic advisor through his business, Matua Governance. He is currently the Chair of Bay Venues, the Chair of Priority One and is a Director of Dunedin based electricity lines business, Aurora Energy.
His mission is to help organizations make a positive difference to the prosperity & sustainability of New Zealand’s environment, society & economy through strong governance, strategic direction, and advice.