A homecoming for new SBS executive

Shane Evans and wife, Angela, at their Birkenhead home in Auckland before moving south. PHOTO:...
Shane Evans and wife, Angela, at their Birkenhead home in Auckland before moving south. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Shane Evans is putting himself out there to help sell Southland to the rest of the country. The New Zealand marketer of the year talks to business reporter Riley Kennedy about moving home for his new job at SBS Bank and why he is so passionate about the region. Shane Evans believes Southland is on the cusp of achieving what it is capable of.

After more than 20 years away, he is moving back with his family; wife Angela and three children, Wesley, Scarlett and Ella.

On Monday, Mr Evans starts his new job at SBS Bank in Invercargill as chief customer officer — the job current chief executive Mark McLean held before stepping into his new role at the start of the year.

A proud born and bred Southlander, Mr Evans grew up on a local sheep and beef farm and attended Southland Boys’ High School.

He considers himself very fortunate to have had a rural upbringing while spending his school holidays in Central Otago.

In 1996, he moved to Dunedin to study for a bachelor of commerce degree, majoring in marketing.

Although marketing was not something he initially considered studying at secondary school, Mr Evans had always been creative and the ability to use that to grow businesses was what attracted him to the degree.

Marketing was about working out how customers perceived a brand and the challenge was to find innovative ways to attract them.

"That, for me, is the ultimate challenge: making sure people choose your brand over another brand in a highly competitive marketplace," he said.

Mr Evans "thoroughly enjoyed" his time in Dunedin, creating lifelong memories — "it was a wonderful time, loved it".

He spent his first year at Hayward College and then went flatting in North Dunedin for the remainder of his time here.

Mr Evans recently travelled to Dunedin and spent time looking at how things had changed — "and, also, how much hadn’t changed".

After graduating in 2000, Mr Evans moved Melbourne to be a part of Australia Post’s four year graduate programme.

After that, he decided to travel and ended up in London, initially spending three years in advertising agencies. Working for agencies was deliberate, so he could learn and understand the "full marketing mix from go to whoa".

Mr Evans then landed a job with Aviva, which owned 50 insurance brands around the world.

At the time, the company was rebranding after the merger of Norwich Union and several other large companies.

Mr Evans was the project manager for the rebranding, which reached across 28 markets, rebranding more than 50 brands having a total budget of £60million.

He described that as a "big opportunity" to build his career.

While he loved living overseas, in 2011 Mr and Mrs Evans had their firstborn, daughter Scarlett, and decided that was a good time to come home.

"We had some wonderful experiences and met great people while being able to work on a variety of brands," he said.

The family moved to Auckland, where Mr Evans got a job at ASB Bank as head of marketing communication, eventually working his way up to his most recent role as chief marketing officer.

During his time there, Mr Evans was heavily involved in the digital transformation aspect of its modernisation of the digital customer experience.

As part of that work, he found ways to communicate with its customers effectively and at scale. He also developed ASB’s brand platform.

Working in the banking sector was "really interesting" because it was always changing, particularly with the adoption of new technologies, he said.

Banking played a "hugely important" part in people’s lives, which meant banks were always changing with consumers’ habits.

Last year, Mr Evans was named Marketer of the Year at the TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards, run by the Marketing Association, which came as a surprise.

He believed it was "really good" recognition for his team at ASB who had worked "incredibly hard" during Covid-19 to support the bank’s customers.

Recently, he was elected to the association’s board.

A big part of deciding to stand for the board was to be a voice for the South Island’s businesses, an area he did not think had been that well served.

Marketing in a large business, such as ASB, could be a lot easier because there were the resources to fall back on.

But when it was a small organisation in the regions, it could be hard to access the latest tools and techniques available, he said.

"If I can find a way to support those businesses, particularly in Otago and Southland, that will be awesome," he said.

Outside of work and away from the office, Mr Evans enjoys being in the outdoors, camping and snowboarding.

For more than 50 years, his family has camped at Glendhu Bay Motor Camp on the shores of Lake Wanaka during the summer holidays.

"That is my favourite part of the world down there," he said.

Living in Southland, Mr Evans was looking forward to being closer to places like that.

"The ability to go snowboarding for a day or water-skiing is something I can’t wait to do."

In a way, Mr Evans felt like he was going full circle back to Southland.

He and Mrs Evans had always wanted to give their children a rural upbringing, "something that is a bit tough in Auckland."

The opportunity to be closer to his extended family, to go back to work for the Invercargill-headquartered bank, was too good to turn down.

SBS Bank was a "little bank with big ambitions", especially regarding home ownership.

"I’m genuinely delighted to be joining an organisation which has its members as its core focus."

Mr Evans considered himself a motivated individual and part of his reason for joining the bank was to help ensure it achieved its objectives.

Southland provided the lifestyle to be able to do that while also having space for the family.

"The ability for the kids to be able to have motorbikes, horses and animals is highly appealing," he said.

The region had a lot going for it at the moment, particularly as big projects were under way, such as Invercargill’s city centre rebuild, the new data centres, an oat milk factory and Langlands Hotel, which made it an "incredibly exciting" time.

While some people thought Southland had a certain stereotype about it, Mr Evans believed that was not the case.

It had always been an "amazing region" for those who knew about it. The problem was not many people did.

In a way, Covid-19 had helped put Southland on the map for people who traditionally went holidaying in the lower South Island and would only stick to Queenstown and Central Otago.

Now, New Zealand tourists were branching out and "exploring what was on offer down there".

"You speak to Aucklanders who have gone down and experienced The Catlins for the first time and they can’t believe it."

While Mr Evans starts at SBS on Monday, the rest of his family will be following him down at the end of term two.

"I’m really excited to get on with it. A big part of my desire is to come down and lend a hand and get involved," Mr Evans said.


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