The future of business

7 August 2014

Winter Lecture Series

DOING BUSINESS: Speakers (left to right) Chris Insley, Professor Juliet Roper, Associate Professor Eva Collins and Steve Crowhurst with facilitator Dr Heather Connolly at the first of the University of Waikato’s Winter Lectures for 2014.

Building profitable and sustainable business

The Māori economy is worth nearly $37 billion and growing at more than twice the rate of the national economy. Executive Director of 37 Degrees South Chris Insley, a Waikato alumnus, says his organisation is negotiating with experts all over the world to build profitable and sustainable business, particularly in the areas of geothermal steam development.

Mr Insley was speaking at the first of Waikato University’s Winter Lecture Series which looked at the future of business and told the audience of more than 100 people that while the thriving Māori economy was based in the primary sector people had to be prepared to diversify. “So we’ve called in the experts from all over the world as we look to use steam energy to create high-value food products.” Mr Insley also emphasised the need for strong leadership in business.

Raglan-based business

Online menswear retailer Steve Crowhurst of Fallenfront said New Zealand had a long way to go to catch up with the UK in online retailing, but his Raglan-based business was doing well by predominantly targeting the biggest group of online shoppers, 25-34 year olds, and promoting through Instagram, Google, Facebook and digital partnerships. Google also provided up to the minute tracking of shopper activity.

“I have a photo studio and a model, take my own shots and put them online. I don’t need so many staff. Every day at 5pm a courier van arrives and we deliver pretty much anywhere in New Zealand overnight, and to Singapore or London in three days.” International orders make up nearly a quarter of Fallenfront’s sales.

Sustainability and transparency in business

Looking at the bigger business picture Professor Juliet Roper and Associate Professor Eva Collins from Waikato University Management School said when the government stops promoting sustainability, the media and consumers stop talking about it. They said you cannot separate economic well-being from environmental well-being. “When business pays attention to economic and social well-being, it almost always makes good economic sense,” said Professor Roper.

The academics said consumers can put pressure on businesses to be more sustainable and the internet was helping to create more transparency in business. “Take the case of Dole bananas and the “ethical choice” stickers they were putting on the fruit. Once Oxfam claimed that plantation workers were being exploited, they had to remove the stickers.”

Professor Roper said social demands, such as British supermarkets demanding sustainable food products, would also impact New Zealand as part of the supply chain.

The University of Waikato Winter Lecture Series takes place every Wednesday in August. Next week’s lecture is called Don’t get Bit-ten: how safe are you online? and looks at issues around cyber security.

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