Sir Henry van der Heyden and Mark Cairns shine at Deloitte/Management Magazine Top 200 Awards

“Third time lucky,” said Fonterra’s Henry van der Heyden triumphantly as he was awarded Chairperson of the Year at the 2012 Top 200 Awards last night in Auckland.

Van der Heyden’s award could not have been more exquisitely timed as it came on the eve of the Fonterra Shareholders Fund debut on the NZX at noon today.  The Fonterra chairman said the company would “deliver for our farmers but more importantly we will also deliver for New Zealand.”

The judges said  van der Heyden’s leadership of the Fonterra board has been particularly outstanding this year. Sir Henry has twice previously been a finalist in the Chairperson of the Year category. “His strong leadership this year successfully delivered the giant cooperative’s Trading Among Farmers Scheme that will be critical to Fonterra’s equity raising capability in the future. He also successfully completed one of the most important of all governance tasks – the transition to a new chief executive.”

That chief executive – Theo Spierings – was one of two NZ CEOs to speak at the awards dinner on their vision. Spierings -resplendent in an orange bow tie – said his was for New Zealand to one day be “the dairy nutrition capital of the world.”  He said “clarity”  of purpose on the business side, and “trust” on the people side were the cornerstones of his philosophy.

AirNZ’s Rob Fyfe – speaking via video as he was in Shenzhen at his last meeting of the Star Alliance – urged the audience that “New Zealand needed to learn to wear black without the depression that sometimes comes with it.” His challenge to his staff had been to be the best in the world at anything they do.”

On the awards front, Port of Tauranga’s Mark Cairns was Executive of the Year winner. The judges said  Cairns is highly regarded by the Port of Tauranga board, leading a management team that “exceeded expectations” in meeting the challenges of the past year, while still delivering a strong performance.  The grounding of the Rena and the port’s response to containers diverted from Auckland during industrial stoppages proved Cairns’ “outstanding ability to drive a future-focused strategy while maintaining the day-to-day focus on customer needs,” said the board’s chair, John Parker.

A standout performer was this year’s Visionary Leader, Ngai Tahu chairman Mark Solomon –  “unquestionably one of the most constructive players involved in trying to deliver a positive, fair and enlightened future for New Zealand,” said the judges.  Investment returns from Ngai Tahu’s substantial business activities are outstanding. But while commercial success is critical, from Solomon and the iwi authority’s perspective that success is simply the means to secure financial, cultural, physical and spiritual wellbeing for future generations. Under Solomon’s guidance Ngai Tahu has successfully merged complex traditional Maori governance with contemporary commercial governance structures. “There is much that business organisations generally can learn from this,” the judges noted.

Solomon told the dinner, ” I do have a vision that Maori can build a financial base – but not in isolation”. He had pulled 30 iwi together to concentrate on collaborative growth. “There were 30 iwi invited but 35 turned up when the iwi chairs arrived at the first meeting I chaired in 2005. Now there are 74 iwi.”

Deloitte chief executive Thomas Pippos saluted all the winners and finalists as some of New Zealand’s best home-grown businesses and individuals, calling them the who’s who of the business community. “With their staggering growth success, Ryman leads the group of world-class Kiwi enterprises that were recognised tonight.  Together, the winners and finalists make a vital contribution to New Zealand’s economy and hold the keys to our future prosperity,” Pippos said.

Ryman deserved the Company of the Year title because it reported “a record profit on top of a decade of record profits,” said the judges. This feat of consistent double digit growth is not only remarkable in New Zealand but is achieved by few companies worldwide, they said.  The business is now expanding globally, but in a measured and sustainable way. “It performs outstandingly well in a very competitive sector.”

“The awards fairly reflect where New Zealand business has been and, more importantly, where it’s going,” said NZ Management magazine publisher Toni Myers. “The primary sector is most strongly represented by our largest organisation, Fonterra, but it is undergoing significant change to ensure its continued growth and strength. Likewise the export sector will always be critically important to us as a small trade-dependent nation so strong performance from our transport and logistics sector will underpin our future fortunes. And with demographic shifts the demand and requirement for well-managed aged-care provision signals an upward trajectory for that sector.”

Guests at the awards evening, comprising CEOs, executives and directors of New Zealand’s largest enterprises heard from Fonterra CEO Theo Spierings, in one of the few addresses he’s made to a large corporate audience since taking over the reins at Fonterra 12 months ago. Also speaking, in a pre-recorded video, was Rob Fyfe, departing Air New Zealand CEO and a past Top200 Executive of the Year winner. Fyfe was chairing his final Star Alliance meeting in China.

Other major category winners were: Glenys Powell, general manager sales and marketing of Medical Assurance Society LTD (Young Executive of the Year), Port of Tauranga (Most Improved Performance), Mainfreight (Best Growth Strategy) and ASB Bank (Responsible Governance Award).

The Top200 award winners

• Deloitte/Management magazine Company of the Year: Ryman Healthcare Group
• Deloitte/Management magazine Executive of the Year: Mark Cairns
• NZIM/Eagle Technology Young Executive of the Year: Glenys Powell
• QBE Chairperson of the Year: Sir Henry van der Heyden
• ilume Best Growth Strategy: Mainfreight
• Marsh Most Improved Performance: Port of Tauranga
• Institute of Directors Responsible Governance Award: ASB Bank
• Designworks Visionary Leader Award: Mark Solomon

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