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Should shareholders come first?

January 13th, 2012

I was listening to Rob Fyfe, CEO of Air New Zealand get interviewed the other day after the airline had won another international award and his view on shareholders.

He made an interesting comment and I think he said it was something he picked up off Ralph Norris, former Air Zealand CEO. It was his focus is never on the shareholders. What you might gasp, isn’t that exactly the group he should want to keep happy, contented and pleased?

His view was that Air New Zealand’s focus was on their staff and making sure that they had the ability to do their job and represent the airline as best as they could. Instead of a them and us relationship it was about all everyone acting in the best interests of the company.

For their long haul passengers they try to make the Air New Zealand experience part of their overall trip to New Zealand. Something that they would remember rather than just another flight – helping the New Zealand experience start early.

He said that if Air New Zealand focussed on the staff, then they could ensure the customers had a great experience and happy customers meant more revenue and hopefully profitability. More profitability in turn means happy shareholders.

He also said that because Air New Zealand is a small airline in world standards they had to be innovative and try new and different ideas. Some ideas would work and some wouldn’t, but it wasn’t a case of looking for blame if something didn’t work but learning from it and trying again.

So take a moment and look at your own business, are you focussing on the right things, on the right people, in the right areas. Are you prepared to take a risk and step outside the box?

Because to stay competitive in today’s world you need to be doing what others aren’t – to have your point of difference. It sure looks like Air New Zealand have achieved that and the shareholders must be happy.

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