Video updates from Mike Burrell – April

Video updates from Mike Burrell, Executive Director on how SBC, BusinessNZ and SBC members are dealing with Covid-19.

30 April: Innovation at Level 3, and longer-term planning


Hi, so here we are in the first week of Level 3, which I’ve heard described as “Lockdown with takeaways.”

I know there’s been some confusion about what level 3 means, so do keep up your social distancing and have a look at the Covid-19 website if you have any questions.

It’s been great to see our members innovating so much as they move to Level 3. We’ve got Countdown and The Warehouse trialling drive-thru Click and Collect.

And our friends over at Buy New Zealand Made have reacted incredibly quickly, setting up an online platform to help their licence holders sell direct to the public.

It’s been really encouraging to see New Zealand businesses showing such resilience and innovation and it bodes well for the recovery.

Here at SBC we’re also innovating, and you would have seen that we have stepped up the number of virtual events we’ve been hosting including drop-in sessions and webinars. We’ll keep doing this and if you have ideas for new virtual events, please let us know. Rob hosted a webinar on “future preparedness” last week and is publishing a piece on it today with highlights from that session.

Our Sustainability Leadership Programme which we do in combination with Catapult kicks off next week, and the team has moved very quickly to set that up online. A big thank you to Catapult for that work. I know a lot of you have been through the programme already, and we’re really looking forward to seeing a new class gaining the tools for influence and leading on sustainability within their organisations, which of course is even more important in the ever-changing times.

I’ve also been speaking with Advisory Board members this week about their experiences over the past month and their thoughts for the future direction of SBC.

As people now begin to focus on the longer-term phase of the recovery – what’s being referred to as Wave 3 – we will be working with you to ensure sustainability and the carbon transition are baked into whatever actions Government takes.

Recent opportunities for that have included working with Alan Bollard and the Infrastructure Commission on their longer-term plans so that they include sustainability and climate transition right in the heart, and we will be speaking to you more about this in the coming weeks. And we’re also working with Treasury, who are the lead government agency on the transition about their work on the Wave 3 recovery.

I’d like to finish with a thank you to all our Council Members and Liaison Delegates who have completed our strategy survey and we’ll be sharing the results of that with you as part of the strategy process.

We will be in touch in a few weeks’ time for your feedback on an SBC directions document and then with the first draft of our new strategy.
I’ll continue to work my way around the membership so please do get in touch with me if you’d like to speak with me over the next couple of weeks.

All the best and I look forward to speaking with you next week.

23 April: Embedding sustainability in the recovery


Hi, this is my fifth update and so much has happened since I started doing these. It’s great to be looking ahead to the transition to level 3 on Tuesday, and I hope this means that we’re well and truly on the path to eliminating Covid-19.

Moving to Level 3 is a positive step as it signals the beginning of the recovery phase and what the Government is terming “reset and rebuild”.

While there is still complexity and uncertainty, we do know that sustainability is the cornerstone of a resilient and positive future and we are already beginning to see opportunities to create a step change in sustainable business, emissions reduction, and progress towards achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

There’s been lots of talk through the media about the opportunities this presents for New Zealand as a country, and on the international stage.

We’ve seen unprecedented fiscal stimulus to support the recovery.  But what does this mean in a practical sense?

Many of you will have responded to the call for “shovel ready” infrastructure projects by the Recovery Ministers, Phil Twyford and Shane Jones.

SBC contributed to BusinessNZ’s submission and we were pleased to see that sustainability was front and centre in the submission and in the pipeline of projects.

Our next step is to work with Council Members, BusinessNZ and the government to develop a longer-term pipeline of transformational projects that will accelerate our progress towards Carbon Zero.

This week marked the beginning of SBC’s strategy refresh. Through this work we can collectively shape the future direction of SBC.

We have gone out to our Council Members and Liaison Delegates with survey questions and there will be other opportunities for you to provide input in the coming weeks.

I cannot emphasis enough how important your voice will be in this process and I look forward to hearing your thoughts on our future direction. Please do reach out to me if you’d like to discuss this more.

We held another drop-in session for members this week which was very successful, and Rob Perry is also holding a webinar today about navigating the challenges  supporting business continuity and productivity, so I really encourage you to check that out.

Best wishes and enjoy the long weekend.

16 April: What will life look like under Level 3 and 2?


Good to speak to you again. This week I want to talk to you about how SBC can contribute to the Government’s thinking around what they’re referring to as the Reset and Rebuild phase of the recovery from Covid-19. We want to ensure that sustainable business and climate action is at the heart of the recovery efforts.

Yesterday the Minister of Finance, Grant Robertson spoke to BusinessNZ about Government’s plans for the recovery. I recommend you read his speech.

Today the Government is sharing more information about what life might look like for business under Level 3 and Level 2. The emphasis will go from only essential operations to safe operations.

We encourage our members to start telling their stories about how you can adapt to the new normal by keeping your people, customers and communities safe. Please do share your stories in Pānui.

We know this isn’t a matter of going back to business as usual in a few weeks. We need new ways of working and doing business that are sustainable over the long term. How do we embed sustainability in the recovery?

Government will be supporting more sustainable technologies so make sure you are telling your stories about what could help with the recovery, whether it is border security technology, assurance of safe production of food or other goods and services.

The Government is also supporting redeploying people who have lost their jobs so we encourage you to work with other members if possible to help their staff find new work to show business taking a lead in this. The recovery will also address low productivity and inequality.

This is a good time to work with the media to show how you operate or have benefits for the environment, the community and society.

As I mentioned last week, we’ve started working on a new strategy refresh for SBC so that we are fit for purpose in this radically changed environment. We’ll be sharing more information about that shortly. In the meantime, please do come on an extra drop in session which will be on Wednesday the 22nd of April, details are in Pānui. That’s it for me for this week, take care.

9 April


Hi, good to speak to you again.

As I mentioned last week, I’m keen to speak to members over the coming weeks about what sustainability and the recovery looks like, but first of all a big thank you to everyone who responded to the BusinessNZ survey that we sent out this week seeking ideas for shovel-ready infrastructure projects. We got a great response and we’ll be putting those ideas to the infrastructure industry reference group next week.

This week we’re having our first online drop-in session for members to get together and share ideas, and we’ll be feeding that back next week so come along to that and perhaps come along to one next week as well.

For today I wanted you to know about some of the themes that we’ve been hearing emerging. The first one is that we want sustainability to be thoroughly embedded in the recovery. This is something that we’ve heard from many of our members. This will cover making sure that any infrastructure projects are sustainable while offering employment to communities affected by job losses and we’ll be working hard on making sure that SBC businesses are well represented and informed on these fronts.

We’re also hearing from you that you’re concerned about the resilience of your supply chains and how they can be built up again in the future while embedding a low emissions approach. Now the work that Kate’s been leading around a low emissions roadmap for the transport sector will take this into account.

An overarching issue that we’ve heard from you is around fairness when it comes to the sacrifices that are being made to respond to the Covid-19 crisis. Some businesses are leading the way in this area by signaling pay cuts for their executive teams and in some cases reallocating those funds into employee welfare but we’re also seeing that companies that put sustainability at the heart of their business are very well positioned to emerge from any crisis and our members are no exception.

Next week I’ll be talking about how SBC can contribute to the government’s broader thinking around the recovery and ensuring that sustainable business and climate action is at the heart of everything that they do in that area but that’s it for me this week take care and I look forward to speaking with you again.

2 April


Welcome back to our second weekly video update. It’s good to speak to you again. What a week it’s been, and I think we can all agree that these are unprecedented times.

Our focus continues to be on our members and their well-being during this crisis period so please do contact me or someone from the team if there’s anything you can think of that we should be doing to support our members that we’re not. We really look forward to hearing from you.

Over the past two weeks the SBC team have been pitching in to help with the BusinessNZ response to ensure that New Zealand businesses are getting the support they need at this very challenging time, and I must say it’s been fantastic to see everyone across the network pulling together to help each other.

We’ve also started to think about what’s next and as sustainability is fundamentally about taking a long-term view, this is where your skills and knowledge and your experience will be crucial in helping, not only your organisation, but other organisations as well and again we’d really like to hear from you.

Next week I’ll begin to reach out to the Council Members to talk about our plans for the future and we’ll find time over the next month or so that works for you and your company. I realise that everyone’s in a slightly different place and it might not work for you over the next few weeks, but at some stage it would be great to be able to meet you and talk about our plans, and talk about what you need to see from SBC in this new environment that we find ourselves in.

This week I’ve had a range of Zoom calls with stakeholders and members all around the country, and one of them was a very interesting conversation with Minister James Shaw, the Minister of Climate Change yesterday and he wanted to discuss the idea of calling for ideas for large-scale infrastructure projects that will happen today.

These are projects that will be ready to go within the next six months as part of the stimulus package, so we’ll be contacting you over the coming days for your ideas for sustainable infrastructure and things that will help New Zealand work toward our carbon zero goals.

In the meantime, Rob Perry continues writing a series of articles that he’s been doing to help get members through this very difficult time. The first one was on how members are caring for each other and I encourage you to read those. The next one is going to be about teamwork and building new ways of working together while being apart.

If you have any stories that you’d like to contribute, please do get in contact with Rob or with me and we would be very happy to publish those.

BusinessNZ are continuing to publish their daily podcast updates at 5:00 p.m. with key information for businesses during this time, and I encourage you to subscribe to that very useful piece. I’ll be in touch again next week, and in the meantime please do feel free to get in contact if there’s anything we can do to help. All the best.

26 March


Kia ora koutou. On behalf of the SBC team, I wanted you to know that we’re thinking about you, your businesses and your families at this very challenging time. We’re working on ways in which we can support you  and your company over the coming weeks.

Sustainability is all about people, and our SBC community is more important now than ever before, so do keep an eye on Pānui and our social media for the latest information and let us know if there’s anything else that you need.

If you’re looking for information about the shutdown, please go to the BusinessNZ and MBIE websites, they have some excellent information and for all official information about Covid-19, make sure you check out

I’ll be in touch next week to talk more about what SBC can do to help you and support you during this time. In the meantime, look after each other and take care.

17 March: Message from Mike Burrell (mail out)

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