Last month we launched “Movac Camp”, an annual getaway for portfolio CEOs to reflect and connect. This year’s theme was “The soft stuff is the tough stuff”.


Being a CEO is an extremely challenging journey. One element of this is that they need to put on a positive front (when naturally things aren’t always going well) to everyone around them – employees, directors, investors, shareholders, customers, etc. This can be exhausting and very lonely.

We believe that creating the opportunity for CEOs to engage in a vulnerable way in a small group setting creates deep bonds, which lend to an enduring support network.

We held Camp over a few days in a wild and remote part of New Zealand, at Vaughan Fergusson’s Institute of Awesome lodge in Raglan. Together, we tested values, questioned assumptions and embraced vulnerability as a new strength. Most outcomes were driven by peer-peer interaction, in a gathering around the firepit style and format.

What exactly did we do?

We held portfolio CEOs ‘captive’ for a few days. Elements of the experience included:

  • Dilworth School for Boys – Rural Campus: The camp scene was set by a talk from Jamie Pennell, Head of Te Haerenga, on learnings from his career as a senior leader in the NZ SAS, around the themes of trust, integrity, and direction change. With no warning, CEOs presented to a panel of Year 9 boys, who had spent the previous weeks researching each CEO, culminating in The Strength Awards awarded to CEOs as assessed by the students.
  • Getting the heart rate up: At stop two, we broke the ice with team-building exercises, including some healthy competition removing ‘hazardous materials’ and a race across Lake Puketirini.
  • Digging deep: The largest portions of the experience were the ‘compress to decompress’ sessions run by Movac Leadership Operating Partner, Alia. Alia is a psychologist, has served in the NZ SAS and now focuses her time on high-performance coaching, including developing similar programs for the most successful VC fund in the world.
  • Grounding ceremony: A journey through the native bush barefoot at sundown, listening to Māori wisdom on balance and presence.
  • Around the fire pit: Solidifying individual strengths with a peer-to-peer strengths badging ‘ceremony’.
  • Personal values discovery: A self-guided physical and mental journey to zero in on a set of values.

Some of the words used by our CEOs to describe the experience have included: not what I was expecting, confronting, time for inward reflection, open and honest, a renewed conviction in myself, out of the comfort zone stuff, grounding, psychological resilience building, authentic, challenged in ways I haven’t been.

Love our village

We owe much of the success of Camp to our Leadership Operating Partner, Alia. Thank you, Alia, for the carefully crafted experience and all of the wonderful people (Phil, Suze, Kaine and Jamie) you folded into the journey!

One very special element of Camp was spending time at Vaughan Fergusson’s Institute of Awesome. The space (once a grassroots school camp, then a surf and yoga camp), is host to school kids (and teachers) throughout the year, arriving to be inspired by tech – learning about hovercrafts, robots, and coding in The Secret Lab. As usual, Vaughan is up to very clever and meaningful things – and groups using the lodge pays for a school or two to have the learning experience.  We’d encourage everyone to find out about what Vaughan’s doing and do whatever they can to assist him in what is consequential and important work.

A huge thank you to Dilworth Boys Rural College for our first activity. The CEOs found standing unprepared in front of Year 9 students and answering questions like “why should I be led by you”, “how do you display your uniqueness” and “how could you deepen your mana” a confronting and highly memorable experience. We are inspired by you to do a better job!

Every day we are grateful to be surrounded by the CEOs in our portfolio, working on amazing things. Thank you for your open mind, courage to share and the support for your peers.  At Movac we believe our success comes from investing not just in big opportunities but from backing the best people. What we saw on Camp was an outstanding group of people who can not only build great businesses but who also care about their teams and their world. We’re proud of our association with each of them.

Until next year….!