Executive success in regional NZ

You’re a Marketing Manager in Auckland, and you’re applying for a Marketing Manager’s job in Tauranga. It’ll be exactly the same kind of job, right? Similar support, similar focus, similar outputs.

Um, no.

One of the most significant differences that I have observed between the regions and the main centres for Senior Executives and middle management is the requirement to do more operationally. Limits on headcount and budget are apparent and thus, those who are used to having a large team, find themselves doing more of their own analysis, report writing, or hands-on people management. This does not mean that these managers are any less capable in the Strategic space than their Main centre counterparts – it just means that the workload requirements are skewed in a different way. And it is sometimes difficult for those that are moving here to get their head around it.

I’ve seen candidates struggle with the transition from a large well-resourced corporate to a smaller, all-hands-to-the-pump operation in the provinces. The move can be especially challenging for people who have enjoyed a job description with a clear, narrow focus. They can be discombobulated by the wide-ranging nature of the supposedly equivalent (but, in reality, vastly different) role in the regions. They struggle to get their head ‘up’, to find time for the blue-sky thinking required for success in Senior Management roles because they have become so focused on the day to day operations, because that is what the role requires from them in that moment.

And I’ve also seen people flourish. I’ve seen people given opportunities and take them by the horns and grow at a rate of knots. I’ve seen people change entire careers – mid-life – on the back of an opportunity that would never have come their way in London, or Auckland or Wellington. I’ve seen people thrive in this new environment – successfully finding a way to balance the strategic and the operational skill-set that is required of managers in the regions.

In a smaller team you get the chance to widen your area of expertise. If you’re the head of marketing and the sales manager resigns, you might get a chance to act in the sales role for a few months – purely on the basis on your management nous, without any sales experience at all. If you have the right ‘can-do’ attitude, illustrate ability and you really love it – they might even offer you the job.

It can be hard to get that first job when you hit a town like Tauranga, but once you’re in, employers in smaller cities tend to be fiercely loyal to their people. People get opportunities as internal placements that would never be offered to externals.
Practical go-getter types – people who aren’t easily fazed, who can square away the operational stuff quickly and leave themselves room to learn and grow and leap at opportunities, and who aren’t too proud to call their own taxi, get down into the numbers, or write the bulk of their Board reports – tend to do incredibly well in a fast-moving, nimble work environment.

If that sounds like you, give me a call. Tauranga could be just the place for you.