Gattung savours latest business success

FULL PLATE Theresa Gattung, centre, finds the fast-growing business My Food Bag, which delivers ingredients and recipes ...

FULL PLATE Theresa Gattung, centre, finds the fast-growing business My Food Bag, which delivers ingredients and recipes thought-out and tested by 2011 MasterChef winner and nutritionist Nadia Lim, left, takes up most of her time these days. Cecilia Robinson, right, Gattung and Lim are the founders of the company.

BUBBLY businesswoman, marketing supremo and cat-lover Theresa Gattung resisted the Auckland drift as the Wellington-based chief executive of Telecom.

But a ruptured Achilles tendon, fallout from the leaky-homes crisis and the runaway success of a new business she chairs, My Food Bag, conspired to compel her to make Mt Eden her new base this year.

The Achilles injury, which she picked up in February playing tennis, meant her days of playing tennis and badminton were behind her - but, apart from that, it had been a great year, she said.

"I couldn't walk, drive or fly and it sort of grounded me up here.

"The combination of that, my apartment being done, and the fact Auckland is the head office for My Food Bag means I am spending most time in Auckland."

Gattung was delighted to find out she had been made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit when she found a letter waiting for her during a visit to her Oriental Bay apartment, which has now been fixed and which she intends to hold on to.

"I knew nothing about it; a letter came to my apartment in Wellington and I opened it. It was a big surprise."

Gattung is best known for heading Telecom between 1999 and 2007. It was a turbulent period that culminated in the forced operational separation of the company, the "unbundling" of its phone lines and in the sale of its Yellow Pages division for what turned out to be a bumper price of $2.2 billion.

The award recognised her contribution to both business and philanthropy. Gattung remains chairwoman of the Wellington branch of the SPCA and is off to Cambodia next week to see first hand another of the charities of which she is a patron, the Cambodian Charitable Trust which supports the education of 5000 boys and girls in rural Cambodia.

Gattung said she was spending two-thirds of her time on her business interests and a third on her charitable endeavours, a split she was happy to maintain for the foreseeable future.

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My Food Bag, which delivers ingredients and recipes thought-out and tested by 2011 MasterChef winner and nutritionist Nadia Lim, would turn over $30 million this year and was currently her biggest time commitment, Gattung said.

"It is going gangbusters. It has been really satisfying to be part of something that is growing so fast."

The deliveries, made weekly, cost between $139 and $189 for "gourmet couples" or families of different sizes and are designed to provide nutritionally balanced meals for four or five nights.

The company launched in Australia this year and Gattung said she would be spending more time in Sydney next year to accelerate its growth there.

"That's going well too; it hasn't taken off as fast as in New Zealand but it is a bigger market and the feedback is just as good as we had here. It takes away the hassle of meal planning and going to the supermarket."

Gattung is also the chairwoman of Melbourne-based insurer AIA and still has a hand in the hi-tech market, chairing online education content provider Telco Technology Services.

Another "top secret" venture she was involved in was planning a global launch in April, she said. 

 - The Dominion Post

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