As a former All Black Captain, Rhodes Scholar and highly successful business leader, Te Aho Tāmaka Leader David Kirk has lived a varied and accomplished life. David led the All Blacks to victory at the first World Cup in 1987 before heading to at Oxford University to study under a Rhodes Scholarship (and dine with the Queen).
Heading back to New Zealand David dabbled in politics, at one stage advising Prime Minister Jim Bolger. From there he crossed the ditch to lead Fairfax Media before co-founding his own company Bailador Technology Investments.
We got the chance to catch up with David recently and learn a little more about his journey.
David, Palmerston North and Manawatū was homebase for you from childhood into your early 20’s – how did growing up in Manawatū influence your journey?
It influenced my journey immensely. My family and growing up in Palmerston North gave me a great start to life. I had good friends, the opportunity to play sport, get holiday jobs, and have a fun social life, all made possible from living in Manawatū. Growing up here gave me experiences and confidence that I have carried with me through my whole life.
You have had a varied career, from sports to politics and then on to a highly successful business career, tell us more about some of the more difficult decisions you’ve had to make along the way.
We all have lots of difficult, or better to say, highly consequential decisions to make as we go through life. What to study at university? Who to marry? When to move to a new job? For me, a big one was whether to tour South Africa or not. I chose not to. The key is to listen to advice but always make the decision that feels right for you. And then to throw yourself into it and make it work whatever you have decided.
And along those lines – tell us about highlights of your career.
On a personal level of course marrying and having three children are the absolute highlights. Being awarded a Rhodes Scholarship was also a major highlight. In rugby, the 1987 World Cup was a of course a highlight and professionally becoming CEO of the then largest independent media company in Australasia, Fairfax Media, and buying Trade Me for Fairfax was also up there. Another was starting my own technology investment business with a partner.
For those up-and-coming companies out there – tell us what Bailador Technology Investments looks for when deciding whether to invest in an expanding technology company?
We are a technology investor at the growth stage, meaning we look for companies with established products and a significant customer base that need more capital and support to grow.
The companies we invest in will usually have more than $5 million of annual recurring revenue, be growing fast and will have a big, typically global, market opportunity.
As well as business you keep yourself busy supporting not-for-profit organisations, what inspires you to be part of working for the social good?
I have been Chairman of the New Zealand Rugby Players Association for 20 years and enjoy the opportunity to give back to the game through helping the players.
I am the founding Chair of KiwiHarvest, New Zealand’s largest food rescue, and the NZ Food Network which moves bulk food around the country. There are many people and families in New Zealand who, through no fault of their own, don’t have enough good food to eat and I feel a strong obligation to do what I can to help.
I am also Chair of the Sydney Arts Festival. Arts is so important in people’s lives so it is great to be able to contribute there as well.
And on that note, why do you now want to ‘give back’ to Manawatū through Te Aho Tāmaka?
Palmerston North and the surrounding Manawatu is my childhood home. My roots are there and always will be. Palmerston North gave me the foundation and then sent me out into the world to build on it. I will always be grateful for that.