Blog post
June 24, 2019

Isentia unveils NZ’s top CEOs in new Leadership Index

New Zealand’s top 10 ceos have been revealed in the launch of Isentia’s new Leadership Index: The Impact of Presence.

Jayne Hrdlicka, of a2 Milk, earned the highest-ranking position for a combination of her share of voice in media coverage and social media, combined with the strong financial performance of the company since her arrival in July.

Innovation and technology dominated the first two rankings, with Xero’s Steve Vamos in second place. Also on the list were Z Energy’s Mike Bennetts (5th) and Air New Zealand’s Christopher Luxon (9th).

Ngaire Crawford, Isentia’s Head of Insights for New Zealand, said: “We wanted to learn more about the way our leaders are portrayed and their comparative performance. We hope this will encourage conversations around the trends and impact of leadership.”

While a woman is at the top of the NZ Index, all of the other nine places were taken by men. Hrdlicka’s appointment in July, incredible revenue growth, and the company’s partnership with Fonterra contributed to her high ranking this quarter.

“Interestingly, New Zealand’s leading CEO is actually an Australian,” Crawford said. “The a2 Milk business has been a strong player during the past quarter and had a high profile. Although Jayne Hrdlicka copped some flak for selling shares early into the role, her contribution to the sustained success of a2 Milk became the dominating theme.”

The first of its kind in an ongoing series, this Index analysed the ceo profiles and media trends of New Zealand and Australia’s top 150 companies since 1 July, then created rankings for each country. Andrew Mackenzie, of BHP Billiton, topped the Australian Index.

Developed by Isentia’s globally-recognised Insights team, the list of 150 organisations was formed from the ASX50 and NZX50, as well as the leading private businesses based on revenue, drawn from the 2018 IBISWorld Top 500 Companies list published by the Australian Financial Review on 5 September 2018, and the Deloitte Top 200 data in New Zealand.

The Index found that women hold only 10% of the ceo roles in New Zealand, faring slightly better than Australia’s 6%.

Crawford says: “While women make up a larger proportion of ceos in NZ, all were appointed within the past 18 months, which is particularly compelling when you consider the increased social media activity around equality, rights and the push for women to speak up.”

“While a woman is at the top of the NZ Index, all of the other nine places were taken by men.”

Social presence

The Index also found that the majority of CEOs are invisible on social media, with 44% having no public social presence at all and 56% having no activity on LinkedIn.

Crawford acknowledges there are risks around using social media and being too accessible online, but says there are also risks to being invisible.

“I was surprised by the lack of personal presence on social media. Generally, when I’m talking to clients, they are focused on making their senior leaders thought leaders, and it’s important to do that through a personal connection. People, rather than brands, are thought leaders, so it seems like a potentially missed opportunity.”

​New Zealand leadership trends

Three of the 10 New Zealand ceos in the Leadership Index are from information technology or telecommunications companies, including Xero’s Steve Vamos (2nd), former Vodafone ceo Russell Stanners (4th) and Datacom’s Greg Davidson (7th).

Crawford says this appears to reflect the growing dominance of the technology sector and innovation culture in New Zealand, which is now the country’s third largest export.

“Companies like Xero are seen as New Zealand success stories within our business psyche. While Australian based, Steve Vamos succeeds the iconic former NZ ceo of Xero, Rod Drury. Vamos has also overseen strong global growth, with a great interest in investment and acquisition plans of the company.”

Learn more and download a copy of ED1 The Impact of Presence here: www.isentia.com/leadership-ed1

Ngaire Crawford, Head of Insights NZ

As originally published on M+AD Magazine.


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