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Chris Quin talks connection, clarity & action

Chris Quin is the Chief Executive of Foodstuffs North Island – the 4th largest company in NZ - bigger than Air New Zealand and Spark (where Chris was previously a senior executive). Foodstuffs represent New Zealand’s most iconic and loved grocery brands (including New World, Pak n Save, Four Square and Liquorland). Chris is also Chairman of The Icehouse.

Chris will be sharing his great learning’s on how you can take the best of what large companies do and apply them to your own medium to small business. Read our Q & A with Chris Quin here.


Who is a leader that you learnt something incredibly valuable from and what was the lesson you learnt from them? 

In my last three years at Spark, Simon Moutter had a strong influence on my thinking.  The strongest takeout was that both a commercial business strategy and strong culture are needed to get an emotional and rational commitment from people for true engagement.


What lesson in business do you try to pass on to others?

You have to understand why your customers are doing what they do, and not rely solely on looking at what they do.  Customers drive more transformation than any technology ever will.


What has been your biggest learning in business to date and why?

Generally, time is not going to fix the problem. Short-term performance is almost always an indication of long-term outcomes – sort it now!


What do you think are the top 3 qualities that every business owner needs?

Connection – the ability to connect to their team, customers and community in a genuine, authentic way. Clarity – the ability to make a decision, to give direction at the right pace and then go after it confidently. Action – the ability to generate action and have teams follow and make things happen


Do you have any tips on how you can future-proof your business?

Build flexible infrastructure, constantly listen to customer insights and act as if your most threatening potential competitor were here now. (And what do they know about customers that you don’t).


Who do you think is a great innovator and why?

In working with The Icehouse I’ve seen several great Kiwi start up innovators. What I like most about them is that they keep trying in a determined New Zealand style and they don’t let failure stop them - rather they move quickly onto what’s next. In our business I see store owners innovate every day; something goes out on the shelf and either succeeds or fails, then they go ‘large’ or they start over. 


What do you think is the most important innovation of your lifetime so far and why?

The smartphone and the power that’s now in my hand to organise my world and engage widely.


How do you look after your health and well-being?

Like everybody, it’s a challenge, but it’s about regular physical and mental time out. For me mountain biking and motor sport give me both of those.


What are you most excited about in attending the Nurture Change

Business Retreat in Fiji?  

Being provoked by others, who are in really different situations, to think faster and generate change as a leader. 

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