High Altitude
John Spencer - Governance and Changing Fortunes at Tainui

John Spencer - Governance and Changing Fortunes at Tainui

May 24, 2018

 

Distinguished corporate director and accountant who made his way from the Chartered Accounting office to industry, to retail and fast-moving consumer goods, working for major New Zealand corporates as a general manager finance and planning before taking the helm as chief executive of one of the country’s two largest dairy concerns and seeing that organization merge as a major component of the country’s dominant dairy business and largest export earner Fontera. For the past 17 years he has been an active corporate director and respected chair filling senior governance roles in both private and state sectors. The later has included roles such as chair of KiwiRail – the state national railway operation.

He has been a forceful voice in his profession and held various roles in the Institute of Chartered Accountants while also serving on a Government taskforce for economic development. For his long and valuable service to business and the profession he has been honored by a tertiary institution, his fellow accountants and his country being recognised as a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2011.

Perhaps his most demanding role – one that has exercised all his talents both personal and technical – was his decision to assume the chair of one of the country’s largest iwi groupings, Tainui. The first tribal settlor with Government under the Waitangi process Tainui was in total disarray when he took the chair. A lack of real controls and processes had seen a large part of the financial settlement wealth eroded or squandered on poor investment decisions. He bravely took up a task many thought impossible and set about managing and restoring the fortunes of the Waikato tribal iwi.

Ross McEwan - Leadership and Turning Lemons into Lemonade

Ross McEwan - Leadership and Turning Lemons into Lemonade

May 19, 2018

London based New Zealander who graduated from Massey University and passed through companies such as Unilever, Dunlop and National Mutual on his way to New Zealand chief executive for Axa at 40 years of age.  He moved to Commonwealth Bank in Australia, where he was widely tipped to take the top role, before shifting to the United Kingdom in 2012 to become head of retail banking for the Royal Bank of Scotland Group. Just a year later he became chief executive of the group taking on a role that was publicly described as a wince-inducing hospital pass. The now state owned Royal Bank of Scotland was a multi-billion-pound loss maker that had taken such a battering the State was forced to bail it out to the tune of 45 billion pounds. Its reputation was in tatters in both the UK and offshore. Just five years later, in 2017, our guest managed that business into its first operating profit since the bail out and is steadily rebuilding its brand image. It has been a daunting and massive restructure that would keep anyone awake at night.

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