“Having Zac in my corner as I’ve progressed in my career has been absolutely invaluable. I was assigned Zac as a mentor through a Foodstuffs talent programme in early 2016 and I’ve worked with him ever since. Throughout our time working together, Zac has shared incredible advice that I still use today.
My goal was always to get to GM/General Counsel level — I was always pretty clear on that, right from when I first started as a checkout operator in Taupo with Foodies as a teenager. The benefit of having an external mentor like Zac is that I could be free and frank on having those conversations about my goals and ambitions. I could also get unbiased feedback and practical advice on how to improve my performance.
Over the years, there have been some really great approaches suggested by Zac that have helped me develop professionally.
When I told Zac that I wanted to improve the way I presented at meetings with senior leaders, he told me to rate my performance after each meeting — and to ask one of my colleagues to do the same. I got some really great insights from this exercise. Zac also advised me to be my natural, authentic self in meetings, but to look at other people I admired and clock how they speak, present and engage and then integrate that into my style to improve my presenting skills.
Zac got me started on a Sunday Night Review, assessing how I did the week before across work, wellbeing, personal and spiritual. He got me to review my outputs and behaviours and rate it against who I want to be and how I want to act. I found this a really good way of holding myself accountable, and of course he’d hold me accountable, too, every time we met.
To progress in my career, I knew I needed to have broader leadership experience so Zac encouraged me to put my hand up for additional projects outside of my remit. I followed his advice and got really involved in helping to launch and govern the Foodies Foundation. Since our launch four years ago, we’ve raised over $2m and helped more than 300 Foodstuffs team members and their whanau times of need, which I’m really proud of. I only recently stood down, with my new appointment and workload.
In 2017 I was thinking about doing a MBA or other post-grad education. Zac tactfully said that would be a great move if I wanted to get out of legal and land a more commercial role, but because I was clear I wanted to be General Counsel, Zac suggested I instead look at a top university and do a shorter intensive exec education style course. It was a smart suggestion. I chose Harvard: an amazing course, top-rate teachers, and fellow students from around the world, an amazing brand, incredible insights and unique on my CV. It was sage advice and I like that he’s not afraid to think outside the box and really target advice to my development goals.
Zac has great ideas, he’s a thought leader, he has a different approach, and he does a lot of reading and research, so you know he’s right up with the play. He’s got an incredible network of connections, many of whom I was lucky to meet at one of his Nurture Change Business Retreats. He’s extremely experienced, is genuine, really cares, gives you his 100% attention, and offers thoughtful and practical suggestions.
My wife and I also own a pilates studio, KCore, and Zac has been fantastic with his advice and guidance here. He’s had lots of ideas and suggestions for us, especially around our big-picture plan to sell and ultimately exit. He’s a great sounding board for us.
I’m very ambitious, very driven, and want to push myself. Working with someone like Zac — one of the best mentors in NZ — gave me confidence that I was doing all I could to progress myself and having to answer to him kept me accountable and doing the work.
If you want ongoing continuous improvement, guidance, someone to talk through issues and problems, you need Zac. If you can, get into his busy diary or do one of his workshops. I can’t recommend him enough.