Who is NZ's hottest businessman?

04:58, Jun 04 2009
London-based businessman Eric Watson
Air NZ CEO Rob Fyfe
NZX CEO Mark Weldon
Former NZ cricketer Adam Parore
Colenso BBDO Managing Director Brent Smart

Hot on the heels of yesterday's search for New Zealand's hottest businesswoman - as promised - we're seeking the most handsome businessman.

As with yesterday, we sought opinions from an array of journalists across Fairfax Media. And again we've drawn up a list of five candidates for an opinion poll and welcome your votes.

Aside from your vote, we're also interested in your suggestions on who you think should have made the short list for the country's hottest businessman. Because as with yesterday's poll, there are bound to be worthy contenders who didn't quite make our final five. So feel free to post your comments below.

But before you vote in our poll, here are brief biographies on the five candidates.

Rob Fyfe

The Air New Zealand chief executive, and former Royal New Zealand Air Force officer, won plaudits during the summer for his handling of the national carrier's test flight crash off Perpignan.

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In his air force days Fyfe became the youngest person to command the engineering operations of the Skyhawk squadron, a distinction that's certainly safe given the squadron's demise.

Fyfe also worked for the BNZ and as managing director of failed ITV Digital in London before joining Air New Zealand in 2003 as chief information officer.

He succeeded Ralph Norris as CEO in 2005.

Mark Weldon

We're not sure how popular he is with our readers, but the CEO of sharemarket operator NZX is clearly popular with John Key, having chaired the Prime Minister's recent Job Summit. Weldon represented New Zealand in swimming at both the Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games.

He spent nine years in New York where, among other things, he attended Columbia University and worked for consultants McKinsey & Company.

Weldon was enticed home in 2002 to take the helm at NZX. Credited with modernising and diversifying NZX, Weldon has at times found himself mired in controversy. This included NZX's back down in the wake of shareholder disgruntlement over the company's planned $10 million share-buying plan for Weldon's benefit two years ago.

Eric Watson

The Hanover Finance co-owner and former Mr Nicky Watson recently held a lavish 50th birthday party in Istanbul. Now based in Britain, the Sunday Times estimates Watson's personal fortune has almost halved over the past year.

But don't shed too many tears for him as it's still estimated at about $288 million, making him the 492nd richest person in Britain.

Aside from the troubled Hanover, Watson, who reportedly had a dust up in the bathroom of swanky London eatery Zuma with actor Russell Crowe, includes the Warriors rugby league team among his other business interests.

Adam Parore

With the help of franchising specialist Stuart Beadle, the former Black Caps wicketkeeper set up a mortgage broking business named after himself after retiring from cricket in 2002.

Two years ago the concept was taken to Australia with Parore's former Aussie rival Michael Bevan recruited to head it up.

Parore, who is married to Sally Ridge, Mathew Ridge's ex, told the Sunday Star-Times in 2007 that cricketers were seen as steady and trustworthy. He hoped to take the mortgage broking concept further afield to Britain, India and South Africa.

Brent Smart

Here's one for fans of the hit TV show Mad Men. The passionate Smart is managing director of advertising agency Colenso BBDO. Appointed to the role two years ago at the reasonably tender age of 33, Smart told The Independent experience and passion were more important than age.

"While I haven't got more years than a lot of people, I've got more passion and it's an industry that needs passion."

Smart has previously worked in Melbourne and Sydney and says his hobbies include golf and listening to music.

BusinessDay