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Case Study: Air New Zealand


Air New Zealand asked Kensington Stone to conduct an international search across four continents, to identify and recruit an exceptional Vice President of In-flight Services. We faced a major challenge in that we needed to recruit a foreign national to work for a foreign company in the company’s home country.

In this particular case, we ran into a significant challenge when one stand-out candidate, who had emerged from among seven, tentatively accepted but then had to withdraw due to family reasons that made an overseas move impossible. We were then asked to find an equally exceptional candidate after having already thoroughly scoured the entire airline industry.


Kensington Stone solved the first challenge by accurately profiling the kind of candidate who would meet the stringent qualifications for the role, and in addition, would be most likely to respond to the unique challenge and adventure of an overseas assignment for a foreign company. This one issue alone would take most people out of their comfort zone.

We solved the second challenge by making a commitment to Air New Zealand to start the entire process over again from the beginning. Instead of merely adding on to the existing project and hoping someone else would come out of the woodwork, it was necessary to start with a clean slate. This fresh start enabled us to really create a new approach to the search as well as invigorating our efforts in such a way that we identified and recruited a candidate that was equally strong if not stronger for the role.


Our candidate spent six years with the organization and was promoted to oversee both Inflight and Airport Operations. This individual was universally praised for their effectiveness in leading the largest employee group of this billion-dollar company. Perhaps the greatest accolades came from the staff and employees within this person’s area of responsibility – and for being recognized as one of the company’s most admired leaders.

“I recall this was indeed a challenging assignment. In advance of the search Kensington Stone prepared a very detailed brief on what the role entailed. I recall Kurt being very thorough in understanding not simply what the role was accountable for, but particularly the personal attributes we required of the person in the role.

“Kurt’s preliminary search identified a considerable number of candidates. There were many candidates from around the world and I remember being very surprised at the depth and breadth of his network. My first impression when I met the short list candidates was that Kurt had been very perceptive and understanding of our requirements.

“We found a real star…(who) proved over time to be a real success story for the company.

“What I vividly recall about Kurt’s role in this process, was that he took personal responsibility for the assignment. He had incredible enthusiasm and tenacity. Kurt was not deterred (although he was disappointed) when the first offer was accepted and then declined. Kurt approached the second assignment with even more determination and clarity about what we required.

“Kurt has a personalised approach to both the organisation recruiting and the candidates themselves. His attention to detail, consideration for what the company needed to achieve and his personal care and support for the candidates made it a very positive experience for all concerned. It certainly didn’t feel like we had hired just any consultant!

“I felt we had become good friends at the end of the assignment, and indeed the fact that we have maintained contact even after some 8 years, speaks well of the professionalism with which Kurt approached the assignment.”

Leslie Grant

Former Group General Manager, Air New Zealand