About Us

in an Environment of Accelerating Change We Need To Think Differently

Phil Pickford

Managing Director

Phil is a Change Agent. His life has been driven by change in one sense, but he has learnt the priceless skill to turn the tables on those forces of change and drive them himself, rather than be driven by them.

Phil grew up in the NZ Air Force. His father was a 32 year server and so the family followed the whims of Command! Certain principles seemed to apply – one being “you shall not live in any one place for longer than 3 years”. So Air Force bases such as Hobsonville, Whenuapai, Ohakea, Woodbourne and Laucala Bay, Fiji, were his play grounds. Change and adapting to it, was a way of life. Social life for air force kids centred around outside adventure, and in the summer, the swimming pool. In Fiji Phil claims he spent more time in and on the water than he did out of it! Sport was never far away from this life, and Phil’s life-long interest in most sports, especially in and on the water, and that oval ball, grew from this environment. The sense and experience of adventure developed into a life-long interest in hiking and travel, with a number of bucket list challenges being achieved. Phil’s wife and two adult daughters have had to deal with someone who continually believes that age must never be an impediment to what can be done!

His career began in Agricultural Science, following a Massey University degree, developing from technical, scientific roles, into advisory, sales, management and leadership positions, both in corporate and SME businesses.

Phil Pickford Business History

1970’s and 80’s

In the 1970’s and 80’s Phil’s agricultural qualifications saw him active in Poultry Breeding companies and the animal feed industry – both during the 6 years he and his wife spent in England, as well as the 10 years Phil spent in Corporate life in NZ with Goodman Fielder Wattie – as it was known then. Initial technical positions developed into sales management, general management and leadership positions, where, especially during the 1980’s, Phil’s involvement in changing the very face of industries, for ever, had a lasting effect on how he Thinks Differently.


Phil escaped the shackles of corporate life in the early 1990’s, entering into business with an old school mate producing digital maps (via aerial photography) and capturing infrastructural data (using GPS and other technologies that were in their infancy at the time). This was leading edge stuff, not just in NZ, but worldwide. The opportunity to lead and strategise in an environment of huge and accelerating change was impossible to resist for Phil.


In 2005 Phil graduated with a Master of Business Administration (with Distinction, and again from Massey University). This degree often changes people’s perspective on life, as it did for Phil. It brought about the birth of Think Differently, where Phil could spend more time using his strengths – helping business owners have absolute clarity on their strategy, defining specific milestones on their pathway towards their overarching goal, and ensuring they execute the specific tasks that are needed, all the while Thinking Differently and smelling the flowers.



In 2022 Phil founded The Think Differently Group, where his business is growing with other experienced and motivated Catalysts, Coaches and Change agents, who are ensuring more business owners are achieving their goals through rigorous strategic thought, action, accountability and success.



I am always telling my clients “it’s all about you.” And it is
Phil Pickford

Ian MacLeod

Business Catalyst

As an active relaxer and a lover of the outdoors you are unlikely to find Ian inside or sitting down unless he is working with clients.

Having grown up in the highlands of Scotland Ian was one of those typical kids of the 70’s and 80’s that was outside all day, only coming into the house for meals and bedtime (and often needing to have the mud hosed off before being allowed back inside!) As he has grown, he hasn’t really changed much in that regard, and unless he is working he will be somewhere outside, either on the water or in nature doing something active and strenuous. And these days he will probably be out there with his wife, both trying to keep up with their 2 teenage boys. These active pursuits include (and are not limited to!), windsurfing, swimming, water-skiing and paddling his surfski; trail running and swim-run events; golf and speed golf which more suits his lifestyle! If he is sitting down at the weekend he is invariably in his little sports car hurtling around a race track on a club track day.

His career progressed from engineering, to auditing and into project management and people management and became less about the calculations and more about the people at every stage. He increasingly became involved in Governance and advisory roles helping to steer industry groups, associations and organisations across the New Zealand marine and engineering industry.


Ian MacLeod Business History


Ian lived and worked internationally as a marine surveyor, auditor and project manager. In 2008 he graduated from an internal 2 year development programme for senior managers but the opportunities to put his learnings in to practice were not available without moving his young family away from their new home in New Zealand, so once again he decided to forge his own path and use his strengths and skills


In 2009 Ian joined Babcock New Zealand to establish an engineering consultancy branch to the business. He had much to learn in mergers and acquisitions within a global corporate business structure, however with the help of some experienced leaders and with Ian using his now well-honed skills around people management and motivation, the business was successful.


As Babcock’s contract with the New Zealand Defence Force was coming to an end, Ian led the renegotiation of a new contract. The learnings came thick and fast as the deadline for signing approached quickly, followed by the transition of the combined organisations into a brand-new operating model. Contract negotiations, Human Resource management, company transformation, change management and corporate finance quickly became new skills for Ian.



In 2018 Ian sought new opportunities to apply his experiences in General Management with a New Zealand SME importing and distributing a range of commercial and consumer products. Alongside managing international supply chains and national distribution networks, he adapted to reporting to a New Zealand owner instead of an international board.



As Covid took its grip on the world Ian was presented with the opportunity to seek new challenges. Like all of us he had plenty of time to reflect on his personal goals during this time. It was time to use his strengths in mentoring and coaching business owners and leaders towards success.



After 2 years working on his own Ian has joined the Think Differently Group to work alongside Phil, helping business owners identify their business strategy and manage effectively towards their goals, while having the time to smell the roses along the way.



Our Benefits

Why Choose Us?

Our Beliefs

We are different. We believe that to Lead Effectively we must be Creative. Our guiding light is to achieve our Individual Potential, which is gained when we help others achieve theirs. We believe in the principle that everyone, everyone can Grow and Develop. Our job is to provide the Foundations for that growth, and to let it flourish. And we insist on Smelling the Flowers.

Execution is the Key

Strategy is 5% Vision and 95% Hard Work. Execution (Hard Work!) is the key to a successful Strategy, and hence, a successful business. To ensure your Strategy is "Real" it must relate to what you do every day. At Think Differently our focus is always on helping you Execute your Strategy. Using our experience, our know-how and our down to earth nous, you too can achieve what you want to.

Leadership Development

Research has shown, beyond any doubt, that the best way to positively effect Business Performance is to improve Leadership Effectiveness. That is why Think Differently is an Accredited provider of The Leadership Circle Assessment and Development Programme. The Leadership Circle (TLC) provides an integrated framework for breakthrough performance, widely recognised as the most effective Leadership Development Programme in the World today.

What our clients say

Contact us

If you’re ready to take your business to the next level, get in touch with us today at 021 431990. The Think Differently team is passionate about Business Success and is ready to work with you today. 

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