Date posted: 16/11/2020 3 min read

Episode 3: Paul Anderson on surviving a crisis through communication and collaboration

Paul Anderson CA, CEO at NZSki, talks to Chartered Accountants ANZ’s Regional Manager Mike O’Leary, about how the pandemic impacted on the snow season in NZ, and how NZSki’s collaborative culture not only ensured that they could continue to operate but also helped them reach new heights of productivity.

In brief

  • Clear and consistent communication across an organisation is essential to surviving a crisis
  • COVID-19 has shaped leadership practices beyond the pandemic
  • In a crisis, collaboration is a powerful tool

At the beginning of 2020, NZSki was anticipating another record-breaking ski season. But the COVID-19 pandemic brought with it many challenges that forced the organisation to switch its mindset from driving growth to survival.

"When Auckland went into level three [lockdown] and the rest of the country went into level two and we were given less than 24 hours notice of that, like all business... We actually closed our resorts for a day to give us a chance to reconfigure certain areas, like food and beverage or lift operations, to make sure we could responsibly manage or set-up an environment for our customers to physically distance, and keep our staff safe as well," says NZSki Chief Executive Officer, Paul Anderson CA.

For Anderson, the circumstances at the peak of the crisis made it clear that his typical consensus-driven approach to leadership would also need to change for the time being. He adopted a more agile and directive leadership style in order to provide his people with the clarity and assurance they needed.

"When you're fighting for your survival, collaboration is actually a really great tool."
Paul Anderson CA, CEO at NZSki.

Championing collaboration and communication also became a focus right across the business. As NZSki transitioned to a COVID-safe, mostly cashless and reduced staff operation - the organisation not only relied on its leaders to provide guidance and support to staff during trying moments, but also hands-on assistance with tasks across departments.

"When you're fighting for your survival, collaboration is actually a really great tool," says Anderson. "One of our company values is just making sure you lend a hand wherever you can, so if there's a stairway to be cleared of snow, it doesn't matter who you are, you just do it. And this year more than ever, that was critical for making sure we operated."

"The management and staff at all levels just rose to the challenge. I think, as leaders, what we needed to do was make some fast decisions and create a level of certainty where really there was none, and then empower the staff to get on and do their things."

Making to the other side Podcast Series

Find out more about how the pandemic impacted on the snow season in NZ, listen to the 'Making to the other side' podcast via your favourite podcast app.

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