Meet the boss: Auckland Intl Airport

HISTORY: Auckland International Airport chief executive Adrian Littlewood used to work at Georgie Pie.
HISTORY: Auckland International Airport chief executive Adrian Littlewood used to work at Georgie Pie.

Adrian Littlewood, chief executive of Auckland International Airport, tells us what he's learnt in business and who he would invite to his dream dinner party.

It's election year - what could the Govt do to help business?

A few things come to mind:

- Keep a focus on driving productivity from what we already have as a country and making New Zealand an attractive place for additional investment so business can develop new sources of growth.

- Resist the temptation to tinker with what already works to satisfy political needs.

- Be willing to invest early in the lives of at-risk or under-privileged kids to help develop a healthier, more educated and therefore more productive population.

- As it relates to our business, keep supporting the tourism industry and removing the barriers to growth so our country can grab the opportunity from emerging markets and ensure New Zealand remains one step ahead of competing destinations.

Why do you like about doing business in Auckland?
Auckland is an attractive city with great natural assets and a wonderfully diverse and hard working population - it finally feels like it is getting its act together and is becoming a vibrant and interesting place to live. It can become a truly international city.

How will your business look in 10 years?
In 10 years we will be well on our way to implementing our vision for the 'airport of the future', with a new combined domestic and international terminal. We will also be constantly expanding New Zealand's best location for business in our commercial development precinct.

What's the biggest business mistake you've made?
Back in my time in the telecoms industry I learned early on that making products or promotions too complicated just because you can and because it lines up with 'strategy' never works.  If customers can't simply understand what's in it for them, they won't buy it.

What's the best advice you've been given?
Properly understand the core of your business and invest your time and energy working out how to grow that faster. That, and there is no substitute for hard work.
What did the GFC teach you about business?

Retaining enough flexibility in your business to adjust to the inevitable cycles is incredibly important but cutting investment too aggressively in what drives revenue (eg marketing) might save you this year, but will catch you in the next.

Why should people and companies do business in New Zealand?
We are lucky to live in a corruption-free, safe democracy with people that are innovative, technologically savvy and hungry to succeed. Plus we are closer than ever to the rest of the world due to the transformation occurring in global air travel and technology which all means you can genuinely run an international business from New Zealand.

Tell us something that would surprise us about yourself.
When I was a teenager I worked at Georgie Pie.  I learnt a lot about what good customer service means from the fast food business...and I ate a lot of pies.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party (can be any 4 people, dead or alive)?
Inviting Oscar Wilde, Nina Simone, a young Bob Dylan and Eddie Izzard should ensure an entertaining dinner with much music and merriment.

What question do you wish reporters would ask you?
Tell us how you managed to write the perfect three minute pop song, solve the riddle of cold fusion and learn quantum physics in your spare evenings and weekends.