Senior executives from Foodstuffs North Island recently took part in AUT’s Shadow a Leader day – where students had the opportunity to go behind the scenes and understand the complexities of operating a supermarket for New Zealanders.

Foodstuffs North Island CEO Chris Quin was delighted to take keen scholars on one of his regular monthly tours around PAK'nSAVE, New World and Four Square stores to demonstrate how these businesses are truly part of New Zealand’s community fabric.

“We’re in a unique position where our owners employ a team of 22,000 New Zealanders in their neighbourhoods, providing vital services to millions of customers each week," said Quin. "Our stores are ecosystems in their own right – with food and other products coming in and out, sometimes on a 24 hour basis – all designed to help New Zealanders get more out of life.  I reckon the day was a real eye opener for the students we hosted.”

Students were selected to take part based on their leadership capabilities, potential and overall achievement. Quin said leadership is a critical focus for New Zealand’s future and the Shadow a Leader programme offers a chance for him and senior members of his team to give students an inside perspective while also learning how their generation thinks and works.

The students followed Chris, David Stewart (GM Merchandise) and Lindsay Rowles (GM Membership & Property) who provided them with an understanding of how delivering our promise to customers works from start to finish.

Their day also showcased the careers of the owner operators of stores and other careers within the retailer, which is an option Chris says not all business students consider.

AUT Business School’s Sophie Quek was one of the two students shadowing Chris this year. "It was an insightful opportunity to ask and hear about Chris’s pathway and advice as to how he got to where he is today, which was very helpful," said Quek.

“We got to meet and listen to the journeys of each owner/operator of these stores, go behind each store’s distribution centres and overall, see the differences of all three stores.”

“It gave me another point of view as to the strenuous amount of work and dedication it takes to become a leader of such a big organisation whether Foodstuffs itself or the stores. It did help me understand more about the realities and responsibilities a business leader has to run their organisation.”

Foodstuffs has one of the largest apprenticeship programmes in New Zealand and offers a number of pathways for team members to develop a career in every aspect of retail. At any given time, there are approximately 3,000 staff and up to a dozen future owners going through training – which ensures the co-operative continues to deliver on their promise to help New Zealanders get ahead.

The co-op looks forward to being part of the AUT Shadow a Leader programme in the future.