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Mark Powell to become Massey's CEO-in-Residence

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Head of the Massey Business School Professor Ted Zorn congratulates Mark Powell on his new role.

Head of the Massey Business School Professor Ted Zorn congratulates Mark Powell on his new role.

Head of the Massey Business School Professor Ted Zorn congratulates Mark Powell on his new role.

When Mark Powell hands over the reigns at New Zealand’s largest retailer at the start of next year he will take up part-time residence at the Massey Business School. The outgoing Warehouse Group chief executive will become the university’s first CEO-in-Residence, a position that will see him serve as a liaison between the university and the business community, a guest lecturer, a mentor for students and a strategic consultant to the business school’s executive team.

"I have always been interested in the connection between ideas and practice, and how one informs the other," Mr Powell says. "As Massey’s CEO-in-Residence I hope to help bridge the gap between academia and business in a way that means important information flows both ways."

Pro-Vice Chancellor of the Massey Business School Professor Ted Zorn says the university developed a strong relationship with Mr Powell during his years at the helm of the Warehouse Group.

"Mark’s support for our new Bachelor of Retail and Business Management was instrumental in its successful establishment and the Warehouse Group, under his leadership, has provided funding for research into key issues faced by organisations and workers," Professor Zorn says.

"We are extremely fortunate to have someone of his calibre joining our team, someone who understands Massey’s goal of being an entrepreneurial university that is closely-connected to the business community."

Mr Powell, who was appointed Warehouse Group chief executive in February 2011, has worked at the New Zealand retailer for the past 13 years in various roles. But he says his role at Massey will have a much broader focus than retail.

"I’m sure I will be called upon to advise the retail programme but I come to Massey with a whole range of experiences, including logistics, supply chain management, strategy, organisational development and managing change.

"I can also help the university make connections because it’s always a challenge to get access to data for research because of commercial sensitivities and to people because they are all incredibly busy."

He says he is looking forward to developing the CEO-in-Residence role in conjunction with the Massey Business School.

"This is a relatively new concept in New Zealand so I am going to take the time to really think through how I can best contribute. I want to investigate how universities overseas make the best use of their CEOs-in-Residence.

A CEO with four degrees and another on underway

Mr Powell is no stranger to the academic world with two bachelor’s dgrees and two master’s degrees under his belt. He also plans to complete his third master’s degree next year.

"I am a big believer in education - it gives you the confidence to ask questions and not be intimidated by experts," he says. "At the same time it gives you humility because you know there is always more to learn.

"Whatever challenge you are facing, there have been countless others who have dealt with that same challenge before. You don’t have to start from scratch - you just need to know where to get the information you need and critically assess how it applies to your own organisation and situation."

Mr Powell says while he’ll miss the people at the Warehouse Group, especially those in its many stores, he won’t miss the daily intensity of a large corporate job. He intends to spend one-third of his time on business activities, which includes his work at Massey; one-third working in the faith-based non-profit sector; and the final third will be ring-fenced as personal development time.

"I’m looking forward to having some time to relax and take things at a sensible pace," he says. "I’ll be busy but there will definitely be more time for family and personal growth, including further education.

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