World Class New Zealand: Black, white and red - NZ artists engaging the world
Keith Stewart catches up with expat artist Max Gimblett on one of his regular returns home to the New Zealand he is “in love with”.
Sustainability: Energy smarts
It might not sound as exciting as the next i-phone but energy efficiency may yet turn out to be a killer app for business. Energy efficiency has the potential to become an important engine of growth and when it comes to savings we’re not talking about small change. EECA estimates that at today’s prices energy efficiency could save New Zealand businesses $1.6 billion every year.
Politics: English’s fiscal balancing act
This month Bill English produces his last budget before the one which is supposed to have a plus sign in front of the balance. Can he do it? What is the point? Whether he can do it depends partly on Beehive determination, partly on the global economy and partly on untoward events. English measures up on determination in two ways. He is keeping the lid on new and existing operational spending by government agencies, despite a growing risk of political fallout from trimming of services, as evidenced in the outcry in March over the Department of Conservation’s restructuring.
Economics: Pragmatic state intervention
China was a good place for Weta Workshops founder Sir Richard Taylor to applaud John Key’s Government for helping his industry. Since 1949, under China’s socialist political and economic system, the government has been responsible for planning and managing the national economy. Large state-owned enterprises produce more than 50 percent of the country’s goods and services and employ over half its workers, and 65 of the Chinese companies in the 2012 Fortune Global 500 list were state-owned.
Leadership: Bullshit and backlash
From time-to-time women in the executive leadership league win a battle. But, notables like Facebook chief executive Sheryl Sandberg notwithstanding, they sure as hell aren’t winning the war.
Thought Leader: Turning education on its head
The first university in the English-speaking world was the University of Oxford. It was founded in 1167. It received its first international student in 1190. We’ve come a long way since then. Or have we? In the last decade views on the most effective way to deliver educational outcomes that are relevant and valuable to industry, have shifted dramatically. And it’s not about to slow down. So what’s changing? Primarily, it’s the continuing realisation that it’s the experience of doing things that enhances the educational experience.
The Director: The paradox of IPOs
An initial public offering or IPO is a company’s “coming out party” – it involves private companies offering their shares to the public for the first time. Recently we have seen with the Mighty River Power IPO that even the invitation to the coming out party, the pre-registration, has caused great investor excitement. The first public share offering called the pubicani occurred in the Roman Republic, around 509 BC. Here public investors bought and traded shares in an over-the-counter market in the economic centre of Rome.
Politics: Anzac two - separate but joint
April is a month for thinking about Australia because it has Anzac Day in it: the day we two countries separately commemorate our joint defeat in Gallipoli. Separate-but-joint defines us. Each country puts different weights on the “separate” and the “joint”. New Zealand cannot ignore the “joint” even when going its “separate” way in international relations. Australia is a prior quasi-domestic issue. Not so the other way round.
Economics: Gender pays
Marking International Women’s Day 2013 on 8 March, the Grant Thornton International Business Report published research showing that – globally – 24 percent of senior management roles are now filled by women, up from 21 percent in 2012 and 20 percent in 2011. Japan (seven percent of senior roles occupied by women) was the worst performer. The UK (19 percent) and the US (20 percent) were among the bottom eight countries, too, for women in senior management. The report observed that those economies happen to be experiencing low levels of growth.
Leadership: The price of visionary leadership
Visionary leaders must sometimes just suck it up when things go awry. Besides, they are more often than not sufficiently rewarded to dull the pain of a dented ego. However, in the case of Solid Energy’s now thoroughly debunked Don Elder, it’s difficult not feel a little sympathy. Notwithstanding everything said, both true and false, and the leadership mistakes made, Elder was and no doubt still is, a visionary leader. Perhaps his first big mistake was to land in a politically owned and governed enterprise. Visionary leaders seldom survive where politicians thrive.
Thought Leader: The internet - a game changer
The archetypical internet story is one of young people working long hours out of garages, developing an online service that will change the world. Many of these ventures struggle and die unnoticed but a few bring immense riches to their founders. The mainstream media trumpets their achievements, inviting people to consider how a company that has never made a profit can be worth so much. All of this is far removed from the everyday reality of ‘traditional’ industries, those that provide ‘real’ products and services.
Politics: Settling contentious policies
Two largely-under-the-radar shifts have been going on in the Government over the past year or so. Unlike a lot of what the Government has been doing, these may well lead to a durable consensus. One is in penal policy. Justice Minister Judith Collins maintains the fierce face of lock-em-up politics that gave her the nickname “Crusher” for legislation to crush street racers’ cars. Very few have been crushed but it looked tough, which served the politics well. Collins is also claiming lock-em-up policies are the cause of a drop in reported crime.
Economics: Quantitative easing pros & cons
Central banks which endorse it make a simple case for quantitative easing (QE): if they print billions or trillions more of a currency, the existing stock will be worth less and so it will depreciate. But is this happening? The Wall Street Journal a few weeks ago observed that the unorthodox policy hadn’t been the sure bet in the currency markets it was often made out to be. Quantitative easing announcements by the US Federal Reserve, Bank of England and Bank of Japan had led to expectations of a dollar collapse, a weaker pound and (more recently) a sustained reversal of the yen’s long rise.
Leadership: Arrogance watch
The essence of great leadership can be elusive. But there’s one human quality which, if it takes root, almost always delivers a leader’s downfall – arrogance. Arrogance is an otherwise gifted leader’s potential pitfall. The line that separates intelligence and arrogance is often fine. Spotting the transition from the positive exploitation of one to indulging the corrosive excesses of the other often happens insidiously. Gifted leaders are frequently endowed with generous portions of self importance and a sense of imperious assurance.
Thought Leader: Coping with change
If you want to have a small glimpse of what the future might look like, visit Point England School in Auckland. You can visit them online and view their blogs and podcasts, and episodes from their TV station at www.ptengland.school.nz. These children are broadcasting to the world, and their computer skills and creative abilities will surpass those of most reading this article. The motivation that comes from having a worldwide audience interested in their achievements is reflected in the academic attainment of this decile 1A school.