Welcome! After the Auckland awards party on 7 November, the conference the next day, and the Wellington conference and party the following week, our final conference for the year was in Christchurch on 22 November.
Held on Tuesday 7 November at the beautiful Kate Sheppard House, 12 managers from around the South Island and as far away as Napier came together for a St. Pierre’s style manager retreat. Appropriately for a venue next door to the University of Canterbury, the day was all about thinking and sharing ideas.
The morning session featured an introduction of our top-performing managers nationwide and discussion of how they have led their team to success, such as Tal at Auckland Airport and Seak in Papamoa. South Island managers were also very much in the mix, such as Yoshi and new manager Liren in Blenheim Road, Nan in Invercargill and Yasu in Riccarton. Rather than detailed presentations from individual departments as was the case in Auckland, the emphasis was holistic – on the role of the shop manager – and how the company can support managers and their teams to grow.
But the main focus of the day was sharing experiences and opinions as well as reaffirming company principles and values. Managers took the lead in a number of challenges, thinking critically about how to put company values such as being a people-first partnership as well as improving the quality of people’s lives into action in their communities. The discussion created many new ideas about how to lead the business forward, and left the managers refreshed and inspired – but still tired!
A highlight was the tour of Kate Sheppard House and its gardens, taking a moment to reflect on the special place in NZ history of the building’s namesake. While her portrait is famous for appearing on the NZ $10 note, many NZers are unaware of the struggles she and her fellow suffragettes faced. Moreover, St. Pierre’s is a diverse family, with staff and managers from all corners of the world. Many learned about the role of the suffragette and similar movements for the first time, gaining a new appreciation of the richness of NZ’s history.
While intense, the conference was a great forum for shop and head office staff to reconnect with each other, reaffirm their commitment to the business and their teams, and generate new ideas for the future. The peaceful, elegant setting and small group dynamic was quite unlike the Auckland and Wellington conferences, and in itself a reflection of the southern way of life. We wish all our South Island team the best of success – talk to you again soon!