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CEO’s Urged To Take More Risks



CEOs are being urged to take more risks when doing business as a means of `kick starting' the economy, according to participants at a recent PA Consulting Group CEO Forum.

PA country head, Stephen Barclay, said more risk taking was just one suggestion made by top level management from some of New Zealand's leading companies who attended the CEO Forum.

The Forum which comprised two briefing sessions on growth in the utilities and manufacturing sectors, also included a debate on how to improve the country's disappointing growth statistics.

"A lack of risk taking and innovation on the part of CEOs was identified as being a major problem by those attending the Forum and the reason why many companies are failing to perform," Mr Barclay said.

"Common CEO characteristics from winning companies were innovative, ambitious and focused. From the losers, complacent, incrementalist and slow to react."

Mr Barclay said when it comes to fast growth countries, New Zealand is falling behind the rest of the world with most recent figures showing an average growth in the economy over a five year period of only 2.3 percent.

"On a global scale, we certainly lag behind a lot of other countries including Ireland which is a showcase for Europe boasting an 8.5 percent average growth in the economy over a five year period, Singapore at 6.5 percent average over five years and Australia at 3.9 percent."

He said the reason for New Zealand's lacklustre performance on a world scale generated widespread debate amongst those attending the forum.

"There is a commonly held perception amongst CEOs that New Zealand no longer has a `growth environment' and is only paying lip service to the words. In terms of growth, we are one of the lowest performing in the OECD."

General consensus was reached by those attending the forum on areas where the country was falling behind the rest of the world.

"There needs to be closer ongoing dialogue between the government and business community to improve growth," he said.

"Injecting growth into the country is the joint responsibility of the government and business community and, as such, there needs to be top level discussions about what's needed to propel things forward."

Those attending the Forum said there also needed to be improved communication between the business community and schools.

"Young people need to be learning at a younger age about how businesses operate and what is required in order to succeed in a fast paced and competitive business world. In addition, the value of scholarships needs to be increased as a way of encouraging students to excel."

When it comes to doing business, Forum attendees said there was too much emphasis being placed on cost-cutting and moving operations offshore to Australia.

"Instead, we need to be injecting innovation into businesses and forming international strategic alliances," Mr Barclay said.

"As a country we also need to be focussing more on how we can create niche markets for our goods and services."

He said two excellent examples of this are Nokia which is worth around five times the GDP of its home country Finland, and the island of Mauritius which has become a success story by focussing on information technology and textiles.



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