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Managing Director/Chief Executive Alternative titles
Kaihautū Whakahaere/Tumu Matua
Managing directors/chief executives organise and take responsibility for the effective operation of an organisation.
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Pay for managing directors/chief executives varies depending on the size and function of the organisation, and their qualifications and experience.
Public sector salaries
Public sector chief executives can earn between $120,000 and $700,000 a year, with a few earning more than $1 million.
A 2012 survey of public sector organisations found the average chief executive annual salary was $340,000.
Private sector salaries
Most private sector managing directors/chief executives earn between $70,000 and $450,000 a year. Those working for small organisations may earn less.
However, those in New Zealand's 45 biggest listed firms, (including state-owned enterprises) earned an average of $1.6 million in 2010.
Additional benefits or ownership shares
In addition to a base salary, some managing directors/chief executives may receive benefits such as a car or pension.
Some managing directors, particularly those who work for themselves, may have a share in the ownership of the company and therefore only take a small salary from the company.
Sources: Moyle Consulting, 'CEO Pay Up – But Only Just', 28 May 2011; New Zealand Herald, 'Business Herald Executive Pay Survey', 2010; New Zealand Herald, 'Public CEOs Enjoy Big Pay Hikes', 30 March 2012.
What you will do
Managing directors/chief executives may do some or all of the following:
- provide the overall direction and management of an organisation
- ensure strategic and business plans are in place and monitored
- ensure realistic goals are set for an organisation, and that these goals are met
- ensure the organisation complies with company law and other relevant legislation
- monitor financial performance and make sure the organisation remains profitable
- manage risks to the organisation
- ensure the organisation's policies and procedures are followed
- consult with management staff on issues
- provide leadership and motivation for employees or members
- act as a bridge between the organisation, its shareholders and the outside world
- represent the organisation at conferences and official occasions.
Skills and knowledge
Managing directors/chief executives need to have:
- a broad understanding of all areas of management, including knowledge of finance, marketing and communication, strategic planning, human resources and information technology
- knowledge of company law and other legislation relevant to their area of business
- ability to lead and motivate others.
Managing directors/chief executives:
- often work long and irregular hours, which may include evenings and weekends
- work in offices, but may spend time at different worksites within their organisation
- often travel to meet with clients and to attend conferences.
What's the job really like?
Robyn Pask, Chief Executive Officer
For Chief Executive Robyn Pask, authenticity is the key to her role. "If you're not authentic – forget it. You have to be who you are, not aiming at an idealised image of what a CEO should be."
Robyn's role in the not-for-profit sector, as CE of Interpreting New Zealand, which provides community language interpreters, suits her in a way a corporate role would not. "I am unlikely to apply to be a CE in the corporate sector. It probably wouldn't suit me and I wouldn't be happy. Here I have a job that uses all my skills and I feel like I'm really making a difference to something I believe in."
Robyn's top tips for CEOs: "Take the long view. Making effective decisions sometimes means that changing nothing is the best idea. And treat your staff and customers right – you have to respect all of them; thinking about what they want and giving them your best. Then you get the best possible result."
Respecting people is all about good communication and Robyn notes: "I spend a lot of time and effort getting words right, whether it be for a presentation, a board report or a request for my team to do something – a whole host of situations."
Kauahi Ngapora talks about working as a chief executive officer - 3.11 mins. (Video courtesy of Te Puni Kōkiri - for more videos go to www.maorifuturemakers.com)
Well I’m the Senior Executive for Whale Watch Kaikoura, which is a 100% Māori owned business, located in a small coastal town called Kaikoura.
I failed at school, I left school with nothing, my first flash job at Whale Watch was called a caregiver, which had me emptying spew buckets so I had about 10 – 12 buckets lined up and if you felt sick, I’d hand you a seasickness bucket, you’d you know, you’d spew in it, I’d clean it and give it back you, then I got the opportunity to become a guide or narrator which was quite daunting for a 15-16 year old, talking to a boatload of strangers, but after a while they couldn’t keep me quiet. Then I become a senior guide so I started training up new guides, then an opportunity come along to be a junior skipper, so I went away and did my qualifications, developed through that role became a senior skipper, so I started training up new ones and then had the opportunity to move into the office, just managing rosters and so on, so become a supervisor, a manager and then obviously the company’s senior executive today, so I’ve been at whale watch for about 20 years, so started off at the bottom and now sitting up on the top, which has given me a good perspective of how the business operates as I’ve been through most of the stages in there.
Most of my learnings really are good mentors, learning from your mistakes and just life experience really, the company’s about whanaungatanga, see ourselves as a family business, but it’s also about manaakitanga, be hospitable to our guests and look after them and then other factors about kaitiakitanga, so we’re there to look after our town, look after the marine mammals that we all generate a living from as we go forward.
The founders of our business they were poor people, they mortgaged their houses to raise the funds to start the business, they risked everything they had on a vision and a dream and so it’s important for me to make sure that that vision and dream continues, so that’s what drives me every day. Because it’s a Māori business it’s intergenerational so my key goal is when the reins get passed on to ensure that the business is in a strong position for the next generation that comes through to look after it.
The youth are quite lucky today because there are a number of institutes around the place that you know in terms of the tourism here they can offer quality training, just as long as you want to learn, you’re hungry to learn, you know you have weaknesses, you want to improve on those weaknesses, when you have great mentors. I think if you get those things right I think you’ll be on the right path.
So we have our logo where we have tohora the whale and we have Paikea the whale rider and we tell the story and the connection of that logo like this. Obviously we have Paikea who came from Hawaiki on the back of the whale up to the North Island, so the whale brought Paikea to a new land and new prosperity and then generations down from him our ancestor Tahu Pōtiki who did the migration south of Ngāi Tahu, actually he came down with those whale riding traditions, so we tell people it’s quite fitting that our ancestor rode on the back of a whale to a new life and a new start and his descendants in Kaikoura have done the same. So we continue to ride on the back of the whale today for our own prosperity and the prosperity of our community.
To become a managing director/chief executive you usually need experience in a senior leadership role for an organisation. A tertiary qualification in business administration, commerce or law, or a qualification relevant to the organisation's area of business is also useful.
A tertiary entrance qualification is required to enter further training.
Managing directors/chief executives need to be:
- able to multitask and delegate
- skilled at planning and organising
- skilled at problem-solving and decision-making
- good at communicating
- able to analyse information
- positive and adaptable
- able to work well under pressure.
Useful experience for managing directors/chief executives includes:
- using leadership skills in challenging situations
- any senior leadership position where you can show you have entered the role and started performing straight away.
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What are the chances of getting a job?
Increase in managing directors/chief executives but vacancies still high
Although the number of managing directors/chief executives has risen steadily, vacancies have also risen. According to Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment estimates, about 42,000 people were working as managing directors/chief executives in 2012 – up from about 40,500 in 2010.
Online vacancies for managing directors/chief executives increased by more than a third in the year to January 2012.
This is because:
- overseas demand – particularly in Australia – is high, and some managing directors/chief executives leave New Zealand for better experience, pay or conditions
- more managing directors/chief executives are resigning due to the increased stress of the job in difficult economic times.
Opportunities greatest in technology-oriented companies
Opportunities in technology-oriented companies are particularly good, as this is a growing industry and is now New Zealand's third biggest exporter.
People who have relevant experience and management qualifications, combined with expertise in business strategy, have the best chances of getting work.
Types of employers varied
Most managing directors/chief executives work in:
- marketing, advertising and business management services
- computer and information technology services
- machinery and equipment wholesaling
- property operations and development
- government administration.
- Bond, G, 'Chief Executive Casualties Expected', 15 March 2012, (www.nbr.co.nz).
- Deloitte, 'Talent Edge New Zealand 2012', March 2012,
- Gaunt, K, chief executive officer, New Zealand Institute of Management, Careers New Zealand interview, March 2012.
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, ‘2003-2012 Occupation Data’ (prepared for
CareersNew Zealand), 2012.
- Stuff website, 'CEO pay packets 9.9pc fatter', www.stuff.co.nz, 20 August 2012.
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Progression and specialisations
Managing directors/chief executives may progress into management positions within larger companies. They may start their own businesses in a range of industries, or move into local or national politics.
How many people are doing this job?
Job vacancies by region
Updated 31 Aug 2015