High Altitude

Kevin Roberts, Diversity of thinking is the sustainable competitive advantage for boards and the only way to change the world

August 29, 2018

Kevin started life in Lancaster and talks about his early formative years in the north of England, choosing not to be a prefect, sport and entrepreneurship and working for strong women early on. 

He discusses many themes including leadership vs. management, freelance talent, innovation, failing fast and niche growth areas. Opening his corporate career with the high profile London fashion house Mary Quant. He moved through two of world’s leading fast moving consumer concerns Gillette and Procter and Gamble working in Europe and the Middle East before becoming Chief Executive of Pepsi-Cola Middle East at 32 years of age. He was promoted to a similar role in Canada and made a distinct impression in the Cola wars before coming to New Zealand in 1989 to head Lion Nathan driving the brewer to a dominant market position in New Zealand and Australia.

20 years from 1997 until 2014, as worldwide chief executive of global creative giant Saatchi and Saatchi, lead the thinking in marketing, brand and communications. His acknowledged dominance as a leader in the sector saw him assume global roles and receive numerous honours from organisations, universities and academics. He was honoured also by his adopted country New Zealand being made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to business and the community. A director, author, speaker and business ambassador he is known and followed by many in countries too numerous to mention.

Often described as a colourful and entertaining speaker he has a distinct frankness and direct style that highlights key messages. Those messages focus around leadership and impact, about the here and now and around building high performance cultures. Indeed one of the books he co-authored “Peak Performing Organisations” deals with the lessons to be learned from sports teams that have developed the habit of winning. Unlike many leadership gurus – whose approach is purely academic or often based on one event or change – the pointers that come from our guest are from lessons learned in hand to hand combat in multiple challenging environments that each represent a fascinating case study.



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