RISING STAR – MARCO CLAASSEN

Marco Claassen was born in South Africa and moved to New Zealand when he was ten. He joined the Orewa branch of New World while still at school and has been involved with the business in some capacity now for 13 years.

A lifelong dream of owning his own business led Marco to Albany Massey University, where he completed a Bachelor of Business Studies. During his studies, he worked part-time at New World Victoria Park as a grocery assistant, then under the management of Rob McGregor. Unfortunately for Marco, his graduation was slap-bang in the middle of a global recession. “A lot of people were looking for work,” said Claassen, “so I struggled to find employment in my field of expertise.”

Thankfully, Marco found a guardian angel in the form of New World Victoria Park’s then-new owner Jason Witehira. Witehira saw potential in the young grocery assistant and offered him a full-time role as second in command of Inwards Goods. From there, Marco quickly progressed to Inwards Goods manager, the first of many promotions that saw him leap-frogging his way towards his current position as Store Buyer.

Day-to-day, Marco enjoys a hands-on approach, “working with a team of highly motivated managers, who challenge each other to achieve excellence.” He is focussed on developing promotional packages that encourage growth for the store, as well as theme-oriented sales such as New World’s health and well-being week. In a changing market, Marco relishes the challenge of highlighting NPD launches for customers. He recently coordinated a promotional effort for Phoric natural energy drinks, as well as promoting recently launched hemp products.

Marco cites Jason Witehira, who changed the direction of his life, as a source of continual inspiration throughout his career, “through both what he has achieved and showing me what I can achieve.” He has clearly taken Witehira’s support to heart, as Marco hopes to own a New World branch within three years and work his way up to an A-grade New World within ten years. He considers problem-solving one of his greatest strengths but notes it can become a weakness “as I enjoy fixing other people’s difficult problems.” A results-driven and goal-oriented individual, Marco admits to sometimes struggling with work-life balance. “As I am so passionate about my work, sometimes I take on too much.”

Thankfully, Marco has been happily married to his wife Rebecca for five years, and she is always on hand to keep him grounded. “I rely on my wife to give me a nudge every now and then to get me balanced again.” The couple has two children – four-year-old Rachael and two-year-old Carter. When he’s not spending time with his young family at the zoo or around the park, Marco enjoys playing PlayStation games online with his brother who lives in the UK. He also loves BBQs, beaches in summer, and – on these cold winter nights – a spot of poker with friends.