Chief Operating Officier
When did you first realise that you had a different way of thinking?
I have always known that I thought differently but I think that all people are different in some way. I thought that I was a little bit dumb when it came to certain aspects of school and I did my best to hide what I thought were my weaknesses. As I got older I realised my difference was in fact a strength.
What was your experience of school?
School was full of ups and downs – pretty much like any other kid at school. I was lucky as I was OK at sport and maths. That covered up the fact that I kept failing any subject that required a lot of written material. The teachers just thought I was lazy / not trying hard enough etc so I would get poor marks for attitude and effort which just puts you into a death spiral of failure and low self-worth.
How did you end up as a CEO of a large company?
I certainly didn’t plan to be a CEO. Even today I haven’t planned my next step as I believe in making the most of every opportunity. I think trying to map out your work career is a bit over-rated. It is important to decide what you want to do and then do it to the best of your abilities. I firmly believe that I rose up through the ranks of management in several large companies by being “me”, showing my personality and communicating what’s required. How many people have you worked for that you could describe as “the faceless leader”? These are managers that are too scared to show their emotions or share anything personal.
What are the main work challenges that you have had to overcome?
There isn’t a day that passes by that I don't have to adapt or compensate for dyslexia but the main challenge is educating people that I am not a dumb because I cannot spell.
What do you think are some of the positives and negatives of dyslexia?
For me the positives are the way I approach problems and communicate. The negative is trying to read bedtime stories to my children.
What advice would you give young New Zealanders who are dyslexic?
Dyslexia is not a disease and you are not broken and in need of being fixed. Being Dyslexic gives you many advantages in life and as technology changes the way we work and play, dyslexic’s will find life easier in the future. Don’t let people judge you or put you down and rise above them by ignoring their ignorance and by doing the best you can.