Kate O’Brien

Tribe Lead Loyalty, Air New Zealand

Young Executive of the Year winner, 2022

Kate impressed with a strong and clearly articulated world-view and her passion for business improvement. She has picked up full P&L responsibility for her area as Air New Zealand focusses on a diversified revenue stream. The combination of trust and data afford Kate the opportunity to expand the relevance of the Air Points scheme into much more hyper-personalisation.

Kate has already forged a remarkable path through different sections of the Air New Zealand business and has the ability and insight to grow her career and leadership further. Kate shows empathy and energy, skill and responsibility in equal measure. As a leader, Kate is sensitive to the impact she personally can have on her team, so she makes a concerted effort to not show and flow any of the pressure she may feel from time to time. She understands the importance of staying calm and positive in order to create the conditions for others’ success. 

Hear from Kate O’Brien on her experiences with the Top 200 programme below: 

Reflections from our 2022 winner

What inspired you to enter the Young Executive of the Year award category?

Air NZ nominated me for the award. I didn’t initially feel super comfortable with it, especially coming from a large company like Air NZ where we work so collaboratively and nothing that we do is done as an individual.

There were two reasons I agreed to put myself forward. Firstly, I thought it was a great opportunity to acknowledge the fantastic accomplishments of the Loyalty team at Air NZ, as well as the broader stakeholder group that has contributed to our success over the last few years.

Secondly, I have always looked up to leaders more senior than myself for guidance and inspiration, I thought that if I could play a role in inspiring the next generation of leaders in New Zealand, whether this be young professionals, female leaders, or those with young families, then putting myself forward for this award would be worthwhile.

How did winning the award impact your career/personal growth?

I found the process of applying for the award very useful for my own development. There was quite a bit involved with the application process and it required me to do some quite deep reflection around what I’ve done in my career, how I’ve ended up where I am, and think about wins and learnings along the way. This really helped reinforce for me what I enjoy, where my strengths lie and what I want to do going forward. That reflection process in itself was super valuable and helped clarify a few big questions that I had about what I want to do and where I’m heading.

The other really positive impact was getting to meet so many amazing people through the process – the other finalists, the judges and the award sponsors. It’s always great to meet new people, make new connections and hear others’ stories.

What would you say to someone who is thinking of entering this year?

Be brave and put yourself out there – it can feel a bit uncomfortable, but you really have nothing to lose!

Regardless of the outcome you will walk away with a clearer perspective of how you got to where you are, what the future might look like for you, and some amazing new connections.

Considering applying? Find out more about the Young Executive of the Year Award today!