Hearing from ethnic migrant small businesses, including Auckland Indian businesses, will be an immediate and pressing priority for Simon Bridges – the newly appointed CEO of Auckland Business Chamber.

Bridges was speaking with the Indian Weekender in our brand-new video show Lunch with Business Leaders, which aims to capture the stories of some of the most influential, rising and inspiring leaders from the business and corporate world.

Bridges – a seasoned politician and former Minister of the Crown – was a guest at the show as he takes up the new leadership role in advocacy for Auckland businesses, which according to his own confession, he is determined to excel, despite the current environment of uncertainty prevailing due to the two yearlong Covid-pandemic.

The former National Party Leader recently stepped down from active politics and had taken up new roles, including leading the Auckland Chamber of Commerce and a few media gigs – both writing assignments and audio-podcasts.

Bridges opened his heart and spoke candidly about the fresh perspectives that he was keen to bring to the table, and the idea of constituting an ethnic businesses advisory board within the Auckland Chamber of Commerce definitely has merit and deserves attention.

“One of the first things that comes to your mind when you get such a big role of being a champion of Auckland businesses and get a great team [to work with] what does our business community wants.

“There is a big migrant community (Indian, Chinese, Filipino and others) in Auckland. They deserve good representation [in business advocacy],” Bridges said.

“I am generalising, but I am sure you will agree … disproportionately, Indian Aucklanders are investors. They have got a restaurant, they have got a retail business, maybe in taxis, ICTs … Given that it is important that we hear from ethnic Aucklanders what it is that they need in business.

“Their issues will be the same, but there will be some specific pointers that an ethnic advisory board will tell me what I should be championing, doing and assisting with….

“It’s not just a good thing …it will be a vital thing,” Bridges affirmed.

Bridges also opened up about his decision to let go of politics, something with which he has lived and breathed for 14 years and thoroughly enjoyed and how he was enjoying the post-politics retirement life.

Revealing more about his personal life and his culinary skills, Bridges said, “I can fry, I can boil.”

Bridges said with a smile, pointing toward the plate of Indian curries laid out on the table, “Look, I am a foodie, but I will not be very comfortable in cooking these specialised dishes …. But eating it, I can surely manage it.”

On being asked what his main worries were for the current business environment, Bridges aptly responded “the shortage of skilled workforce” to grow New Zealand. On the one hand, there is the restriction to bringing new skilled workforce from overseas due to “immigration re-setting” and Covid restrictions. Simultaneously, there was the problem of the beginning of Kiwi-brain-drain resulting in the flight of skilled workforce to overseas destinations, Bridges pointed out.

And about what excited him the most in near or immediate terms, Bridges emphatically said, “Auckland.”

Please see the full interview here https://fb.watch/dOfw6Y3TzR/