This time we talked to our client, executive general manager of Helloworld, Simon McKearney. Helloworld is the largest travel company in Australasia based on sales (ie. massive = in the several billion dollar mark p.a!). Read his Q&A below…
Q. Tell us about your business in around ten words…
A. Fresh new travel company offering expertise to Innovative and value-based products.
Q. Why did you start it and what was your aim with it?
A. We combined a collection of legacy travel brands – Harvey World Travel, United Travel and Air New Zealand Holidays – to match our Australian Helloworld parent. The combination enables us to now drive forward with one vision and one all-encompassed marketing spend.
Q. Who is a leader that you learnt something incredibly valuable from and what were the lessons you learnt from them?
A. Greig Bramwell – the ex head of adidias NZ. He was an inspiring leader who always got maximum effort out of his people by creating an environment where we cared for each other as if we were a family. He put people first, knowing that results could come on the back of that investment.
Q. Think about the worst boss you’ve ever had – what did you learn from their style of leadership?
A. There have been a few – remarkable in this day and age that businesses have such acceptance for incredibly bad leaders. The most common trait in them is that they could not see/understand the link in respecting and looking after people and the resulting culture of high performance.
Q. What lesson in business do you try to pass on to others and why is that?
A. I’m big on getting people to think beyond what the norm expects. This world is fast moving and consumers get bored very quickly of the “same/same”. Being different is commonly referred to as disruption these days but essentially it refers to innovation. If one can innovate and then understand the connection to financial return, you will be onto a winner.
Q. What is a mantra you live by and why?
A. “Always let your courage be greater than your fear.”
Q. What has been your biggest learning in business to date and why? How has it affected you going forward?
A. It is rare to find genuine, well-meaning people in the business world – before trusting, tread with caution. This has taught me to create management teams that are so close they literally would go to war for each other, which in turn makes for an incredibly trusting workplace.
Q. If you were 21 years old again and could do any career you wanted, what would you be and why?
A. I would definitely be a doctor – I think the idea of having real meaning in a career that’s not business related would be incredibly rewarding.