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Working from Bay truly fine: Global CEO

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Rod Drury is CEO and co-founder of Xero, a $2.5 billion cloud accounting Software Company and he calls Hawke’s Bay home.

His success might be extraordinary but his lifestyle is typical, provincial New Zealand. Great weather, great schools for his children, surfing, hanging out at the beach and mountain biking – all on his Hawke’s Bay doorstep. Xero launched in 2006 with just a handful of staff. It now has about 1,500 people working in 20 offices around the world. It is one of New Zealand’s top technology export companies and one of our biggest employers of IT talent.

“Senior executives wanted to be able to live where they wanted to bring up their families so we designed the business with that in mind,” says Rod, who shifted to Havelock North with his wife and three children as the first of them was about to start school in 2009. His frequent travel was behind the family’s decision to move to Hawke’s Bay, to settle in what they considered was the best place for their kids to grow up and be educated.

“I CAN BE IN SAN FRANCISCO AND AT MEETINGS IN SILICON VALLEY ON FRIDAY AND BE AT THE HAWKE’S BAY FARMERS MARKET THE NEXT MORNING. LIVING BETWEEN TWO WORLDS MAKES LIFE FUN AND INTERESTING, AND I APPRECIATE BOTH MORE”
ROD DRURY, CEO AND CO-FOUNDER OF XERO

“We’d bought a beach house at Waimarama a few years before and had been spending a bit of time there.

“I grew up in Greenmeadows, Napier, but I never thought I would be back. When we had kids, we decided it was the best place to raise them.” Big point scorers in Rod’s evaluation ahead of the move were the range of good schools with plenty of outdoor and sporting activities, a place where kids can ride their bikes or walk to school and lifestyle.

The family heads to the beach most weekends and takes up residence at the water’s edge in the school holidays.

You’re likely to find Rod in Hawke’s Bay from Friday to Monday, he meets with his leadership team in Wellington on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and the global Xero team meets about every six weeks. Rod often travels within New Zealand several times a week and heads overseas every four or six weeks. He’s constantly video conferencing wherever he is.

Hawke’s Bay has good fibre infrastructure which means he and his kids can be fully connected, accessing online entertainment and information so he believes they miss nothing by living in the region.

“Fitness and lifestyle have become important, particularly now I’m in my forties, have children and do a lot of travel. Hawke’s Bay’s a huge draw card. I swim regularly at Napier’s Ocean Spa complex and go mountain biking up Te Mata Peak. I can come home and be out surfing straight away. It’s the ultimate – a good, active and fun lifestyle while doing stimulating work.”

From a business perspective, Rod estimates skilled labour force costs are up to 40 percent lower than in Australia, providing great advantages for relocating businesses. But there’s no chance Xero’s head office will be moving to Hawke’s Bay anytime soon although Rod can see a thriving IT industry growing in the region further down the track.

“The first step is to continue to encourage top executives to shift to Hawke’s Bay. Get them doing the evaluation that I did and they’ll see it’s a great place to bring up children – I can’t think of anywhere else we’d want to be.”




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