In 2006 I “retired” from the law and stepped in as managing director and CEO of a New Zealand superyacht construction company. Over the next two years I ran 8 companies in Australasia and the Cayman Islands. This was a privately owned business, employing over 300 staff with new build and refit facilities in New Zealand and Australia. The client base for the business ranged from Europe, USA, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. As CEO, I reported to the Board of Directors and shareholders and had direct reports across production, finance, design, refit and marketing.
While CEO I undertook a number of large international financing projects both for the construction and operation of super yachts. I supervised the leasing operation of a 50 m superyacht in the Mediterranean. I also engaged in negotiations with EDI and the Singapore government for a new highly automated yacht building facility in Singapore.
A colleague involved in senior level recruiting for public companies observed that my time at Sensation Yachts Limited was the equivalent of at least two practical MBAs.
Using the experience I have gained in business, since 2008 I have acted as a receiver on a number of occasions and across a variety of businesses from farming interests, yacht building companies, finance companies post GFC through to being a receiver over a painting. Although I don’t undertake receivership work anymore the experience has helped me understand and be able to work with companies in distress. Today I act as an independent director and advisor to a number of private businesses. I believe that to truly add value to a business as a director you need to understand what drives the business from an operational perspective and you need to be prepared to work with the business over an extended period. I do not believe that short-term engagements as a director add sustainable value to a business.
In addition to my directorships I blend my mediation and business practices to work with companies that are hamstrung by conflict – whether that is at board level, between the shareholders or at other levels within the business. I offer both business and facilitation services to help unlock whatever the problems are that prevent the business from moving forward – even if that means taking the business to a third-party sale. My focus on these engagements is to preserve as much of the equity in the business as possible while we work through the conflict.
I also blend my different services by working with companies – and in particular company owners – on communication skills. In an increasingly complex and difficult world there is a significant gap between the conversations we need to have and the ones that we actually do have. We also have a real problem with our style of communication and the messages that are conveyed to our intended audience. In short, I work with people on how to have better conversations – especially over difficult subject matter.
Recently I have started working with a fantastic company – Waking Giants – on strategic leadership and related initiatives. Waking Giants is all about unlocking potential wherever we find it. I work with the owners and leaders of businesses to help them develop their own potential and to ensure they become more strategic leaders – both of their business and in their community.