Written by Judy Whiteman, Network Connector at Leadership NZ
Back in 2006 as Peter Fenton completed the Leadership NZ Programme, travelling around the world for work was probably not on his radar to the extent that it is today. He had just been appointed as Chief Executive of Postal Services at New Zealand Post and ahead of him were a few challenges.
The Leadership NZ Programme came at a very important time for him in his own leadership development. “The broadening of perspectives, the growing needs and issues of the different sectors and communities was of real value to me personally.”
Peter led a very large postal modernisation at New Zealand Post – new mail processing automation, marketing, new postcodes, site closures and significant employee redundancies. “Leadership NZ had taught me that through the huge change process our employees needed confidence, not on the ‘what’, ‘when’ or even the ‘how’, but rather the ‘why’ and the destination. The response of the New Zealand Post people was fantastic. By 2010 in terms of productivity, customer service, employee engagement and improving safety, New Zealand Post was a world leading postal business.” The story behind the ‘why’ is essential.
Today Peter works at New Zealand Trade & Enterprise (NZTE), having joined at the start of 2011. He leads a New Zealand based customer team supporting New Zealand businesses to grow internationally with market development and capability building services. International travel is no stranger to Peter with this interview being conducted remotely as he travelled through South America.
“Leadership NZ reinforced for me the importance of relationships – people do business with people and this is a vital element in our work at NZTE.”
Peter continues to be a great advocate for Leadership NZ, continually promoting the Programme to leaders in his teams. One of his leadership team at NZTE is on this year’s leadership Programme and two of his New Zealand Post team have completed it in prior years.
When asked what is the single most important thing he learnt from Leadership NZ, Peter believes it is “the importance of storytelling by leaders. Listening to the great range of terrific programme presenters – it wasn’t what they had achieved but rather their personal challenges, insights and reflections and their sharing of those personal stories that was most powerful.”
Peter has his own stories to tell from his leadership journey so far. The Programme continually reinforced to him that readers are leaders and his advice to future leaders is to keep reading, keep listening, keep open, keep learning and keep growing.
When asked to reflect on 10 years ago, Peter jokingly says he should have bought shares in Apple! His serious response, however, harks back to one of the themes running through his career: “To work harder at building, investing and maintaining personal and business networks.” People, their stories and relationships are what make the world go round.