Ollie Farnsworth

Chief Commercial & Customer Officer, Tourism Holdings

Young Executive of the Year winner, 2021

With a career shaped by diverse experiences around the world, Ollie firmly believes that “everything is a result of the last thing that you did, and if you put yourself in interesting places with interesting people and add value in what you’re doing, the next thing presents itself.”

Ollie has worked in Auckland, Beijing, Shanghai, Chicago, Atlanta, and New York, undertaking various roles in consulting, marketing, business start-ups and corporate leadership. He joined Tourism Holdings in 2017, where he is now the Chief Commercial & Customer Officer responsible for the revenue they bring in and the experience and products offered to customers.

As the winner of the Young Executive of the Year in the 2021 Deloitte Top 200 awards, the judges recognised Ollie’s innovative mindset that identified and executed new business opportunities when Tourism Holdings had to tear up its original business plan because of the pandemic.

What are you most excited about over the next year?
Tourists! International people coming to jump into campervans! The pandemic has meant we have had a tough few years trying to make things happen domestically – but we have learned a lot from it. I think we are a better business and better business people than we were a couple of years ago. Now we are keen to show off all those things we have learned to our main customer base – international visitors.

What inspired you to apply for the Young Executive award?
I was pretty reluctant to apply for the award initially. My CEO recommended that I do it, but the whole idea of applying for an individual award after a few non-individual years, where the whole company had been through a hell of a journey, initially felt a bit off. He told me that while it might look like an individual award, the pride that everyone around you takes out of it and the evidence that what we’re doing makes a difference can be galvanising for everyone that has been part of that journey.

How did you find the application process and what did you take away from it?
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the process. While I wasn’t expecting any particular outcome, the process itself was a good chance to sit back and take stock. We have been running so fast through the pandemic, that having the chance to ask “What are the things that we did? What are we proud of? What did we learn?” was therapeutic in a way and gave me a chance to consider what is important and what I value. I found that to be a very reflective journey.

What was the experience like engaging with the judges?
It was great to meet the judges, because they are a group of highly respected people in their own right that you don’t run into on the street. They asked some really good questions, and I had the chance to ask at the end of the interview for any feedback they had based on what they’d seen and heard. They gave me confidence that I was doing the right things and provided a few good pointers as well, just based on that exchange of getting to know each other. I thought it was a great experience.

What would you say to another young executive considering applying for this award this year?
Go for it. If you’ve got the same concerns that I had, you might feel a bit unsure applying for an individual award. But just remember that it is more than the individual, it is about those you work with, your friends and family and everyone that supports you. Don’t be apologetic about it – make it about everyone who is around you and get amongst it!


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