My wife and I travelled to the UK in 1977, initially for a couple of years, and came home 6 years later! My sales and sales management skills were developed in the Animal Feed Industry over there, as was my recognition of the way English (and Scottish and Welsh and Irish – they were all there) rugby players enjoy themselves!
On return to New Zealand I spent 10 years in Corporate life in the Agribusiness sector – initially with Watties, which morphed into Goodman Fielder Wattie (and now without Watties.) Management and Leadership were the areas of focus during this time, with still more mistakes made and much learning gained. I look on that time as somewhat paradoxical – some very significant strategic achievements, in some cases changing the very face of industries for ever during the 1980’s, mixed with periods of enormous stress and blind panic!
In the early 1990’s I escaped the shackles of corporate life and entered into business with an old school mate of mine, producing digital maps (via aerial photography) and capturing infrastructural data (using GPS and other technologies that were in their infancy at that 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. We were successful. I made lots more mistakes, and yes, I learnt even more.
In 2004 I graduated with a Master of Business Administration (with Distinction, and again from Massey University) and decided that I needed a change (the MBA does that to people.) I decided to spend more of my time using my Strengths – helping Business Owners have absolute clarity on their Strategy, defining specific milestones on their Pathway towards their overarching Goal, and ensuring that they execute the specific tasks that are needed; all the while Thinking Differently and smelling the flowers
I am always telling my clients “it’s all about you.” And it is
What I do and how I do it, depends on what you need, where you are at and where you want to go. So allow me just a small amount of space to talk about myself, which I do with humility and a degree of reluctance!
I began managing people and businesses in 1975 after graduation from Massey University with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science, specialising in Poultry Science and Animal Nutrition – not many people did that, I guess I thought differently way back then too. That first job was Hatchery Manager of an International Poultry Breeding company – again not too many people did that either! I had four staff and was also accountable for the effective operation of the grandparent breeding farm that the hatchery was attached to. I made lots of mistakes. I was a greenhorn. But I began to learn what it means to listen, think and act.
From the Highlands of Scotland, I began forging my own path from an early stage, studying at Strathclyde University before joining an international company based in London after 2 weeks initiation at head office I was off to the middle east. Finding myself truly in at the deep end I quickly developed the art of listening, asking the right questions, building relationships, learning quickly, and taking responsibility for decisions.
After several years living and working internationally I finally took hold of the wheel and steered us to settle in New Zealand where we quickly put down roots and are happily raising our 2 boys.
I lived and worked internationally as a marine surveyor, auditor and project manager. In 2008 I graduated from an internal 2 year development programme for senior managers but the opportunities to put my learnings in to practice were not available without moving my young family away from our new home in New Zealand so once again I decided forge my own path, use my strengths and skills.
In 2009 joined Babcock New Zealand to establish an engineering consultancy branch to the business. I had much to learn in mergers and acquisitions within a global corporate business structure and operation and growth of a New Zealand SME but had many experienced leaders who were there to help us succeed.
As Babcock’s contract with the New Zealand Defence Force was coming to an end I lead the renegotiation of the contract. The learnings came thick and fast as the deadline for signing the new contract 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, corporate finance quickly became new skills.
I sought new opportunities to apply my 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 I adapted to reporting to a New Zealand owner instead of an international board.
As Covid took its grip on the world I was presented with the opportunity to seek new challenges and given plenty of time during lockdown to reflect on my personal goals. It was time to use my strengths and follow my own goals of mentoring and coaching business owners and leaders for success.
After 2 years working on my own I have 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.
To craft an effective strategy you will need the admirable traits of Foresight, Analysis and Deep Thought. Be thankful that every staff member of Think Differently enjoys copious amounts of these qualities.Read More
At Think Differently we prescribe to the premise that no matter how good your strategy is, if you don’t execute it effectively it will be completely and utterly worthless. Successful strategy is 5% vision and 95% hard work.Read More
There is now no doubt in my mind or the minds of my team that the best way to positively affect business performance is to improve leadership effectiveness.Read More
We have been working with Phil since 2012. During this time we have grown from a staff of 10 to well over 30 and quadrupled our turnover. Working with Phil has enabled us to develop strategies and implement plans that we didn’t even know we needed before meeting him. At the beginning of our journey together we were not working on our business at all and, to be honest, we were floundering. Now our leadership is strong, our strategy is clear and we have exceeded most of the goals we have set for ourselves.
Phil Pickford has provided considerable support to our business since we began working together in 2008. Over the years he has counseled, advised, mentored and coached me (and my team) on a vast array of subjects! The focus of our meetings has always been on business strategy but he has provided enormous support in other areas as well (management, HR, new business, and organisational structure to name a few). Phil is always very prepared, the meetings are well structured, and his follow up is timely and concise.
We have been using Think Differently for over 2 years and have seen remarkable gains in our business, over 50% growth each year. We have consistently broken sales records and have become a leading force in our field. Phil is an outstanding mentor with an invaluable wealth of knowledge and I couldn’t recommend him enough.
Our company executive have worked with Phil Pickford at Think Differently for over 10 years. Over time Phil has gained an intricate knowledge of the workings of our company and understands our thinking and our personnel. He then uses this knowledge, together with his own experience and wisdom to challenge the executive to set our own goals and business plans. He offers sound advice, and we have used him for guidance and direction when focusing on particular issues that we may be facing.
Phil created the defining moment for me when I was attempting to change the course of our company through a more strategic approach. His knowledge and experience in helping create the right strategy for the right time changed my perception of how we needed to move forward. Phil wasn’t about providing the strategic direction; he was about creating the right environment to enable my leadership team to evolve a strategy as a result of creative thinking, challenging the norm and asking the right questions.