In August 2013, former student, Steven Carden took up the position as the new Chief Executive of Landcorp. The state owned company is the country's largest farming body, owning or leasing 137 farms and generating a revenue of $250 million.
Steven, 40, attended the College from 1987-1991. During his College years he was a lead speaker in the Premier Debating team, played tennis, cricket and soccer for the School and was involved in 1st XI Hockey. After leaving, Steven went on to study politics and law at the University of Auckland gaining a BA and an LLB, before he embarked on his first job with a small funds manager.
But it wasn't long before idealism kicked in, and he took a year off to establish First Foundation in 1998, a not-for-profit which helps talented under-privileged students through university. By partnering the students with companies, they receive holiday work, commercial experience, contacts and confidence. The First Foundation has since grown into a significant non-profit organisation with operations now in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.
‘Typically these are kids that have not had any family member ever go to university,’ he says. ‘The failure rates in the first year of university for kids like this is extremely high. So what we're trying to do is provide that transition pathway from schools through university.’
Steven has established two other organisations, KEA Boston - a chapter of the Kiwi Expatriates Association, and Friends of CCE - a US based non-profit organisation raising funds to help rehabilitate inmates in Ecuadorian prisons (Steven worked there as a volunteer in 2003). In each of these instances, Steven demonstrated an ability to not only turn his vision into a reality, but has inspired others to join him in making it so.
Steven’s next career move was as general manager for Flying Pig, an early internet retailer, and he completed an MBA at Harvard Business School during 2001-2003, where he was a Knox Fellow.
A stint with global business advisor McKinsey & Co in the United States followed, where Steven worked from 2003-2008 as an Engagement Manager. In 2005 Steven received an Emerging Leader Award by the Sir Peter Blake Trust. Since receiving the 2005 Emerging Leader Award, he has written a book about New Zealand's future titled ‘New Zealand Unleashed’, published by Random House in 2007.
Returning from the US to New Zealand with McKinsey, Steven made his first move into agriculture at PGG Wrightson in 2008. After working as a Business Development Manager until 2010, he then spent three years as General Manager in Australia running its pastoral seed business.