Maharey: Boot camp 'productive'

LUCY TOWNEND
Last updated 12:00 13/08/2014

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A week-long boot camp working with Kiwi business leaders and learning from American experts has Massey University's vice-chancellor Steve Maharey looking towards tomorrow.

Maharey joined 41 other Kiwi leaders from government ministries, Maori corporations and universities for a business boot camp at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, last week.

As well as a sprinkling of military-inspired activities, including 5.30am exercise classes, the programme focused on pushing New Zealand's primary industries and changing the way Kiwis think about primary sector businesses.

The boot camp included sessions with top-class Stanford academics, who talked about topics as diverse as growing global firms, negotiating deals, the rise of China, the role of strategy and new technologies.

"An uninformed observer might have assumed they had stumbled into a Silicon Valley start-up meeting," Maharey said.

Even when a specific area of the primary sector was mentioned, the key lessons still circled back to the product, distribution networks and getting the right staff, which was applicable to any profession, he said.

"Primary industries were seldom mentioned because the focus was on how to add value to any business."

A big influence throughout the week came from Maori leaders, whose "inclusive world view" was grasped by bootcampers and used to build a better understanding of how to drive businesses to bigger things, he said.

"They want to take on the world now, but have their eyes firmly fixed seven generations ahead.

"Their contributions were peppered with talk of creating a world fit for their great grandchildren, care for the environment and the need to create wealth [and] not as competing goals but as a single way of looking at the way to do business."

Before camp was over, the group pooled their thoughts on what their ambitions were for New Zealand's primary sector businesses on the global stage.

"The bootcampers pushed for more emphasis on New Zealand as a small, fast, nimble, edgy nation that can take the world in a new direction," Maharey said.

"As far as the rest of the world is concerned, New Zealand is always ahead; always tomorrow.

"Well, that's the way the people I spent an enormously productive week with, talking about how to transform our primary sector, see things."

Massey paid for Maharey to attend the programme.

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- Manawatu Standard

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