Leadership Interview: Shane Anselmi, Overland Footwear

One of the best things about my job is having the opportunity to work alongside some of our country’s most inspirational leaders.

This week I had the pleasure of interviewing Shane Anselmi, Managing Director of Overland Footwear – New Zealand’s leading fashion footwear retailer.

Shane Anselmi - MD, Overland Footwear

Shane Anselmi – MD, Overland Footwear.

With a family tradition rich in footwear heritage, Shane opened the first Overland store in 1990, after an inspiring trip overseas where he had a vision of the concept.

Overland currently operates as a privately-owned family business and is continuing to grow.

The passion and love of fashion, footwear and design that brought Shane’s vision to life is still evident and felt through every area of the organisation.

Shane is a living, breathing example of how great leadership and an awesome culture can lead to knock your socks off success.

Here’s what he had to say…


Last year, for the second year running, Overland won the IBM Kenexa Best Workplaces Awards – Large Workplaces Category; and were named the Overall Winner. What do you think this is down to?



One of the greatest human desires is to be recognised for your efforts and we go out of our way to do that with our people.

10 years ago I attended a course run by the Icehouse on how to improve our business.

I was able to tick a lot of boxes with the business at that time.

We had good governance, a well functioning board, strong measurement systems and were very sales focused.

However, one presenter really made me stop and think.

He was an HR consultant who spoke about the importance of taking a “health check” on your organisation.

I was intrigued. I had the feeling our people weren’t as happy as they could be.

We hired him to conduct our first round of 360 degree feedback throughout our stores and support office. I must admit, I was a bit shocked with what I learned.

On the whole, our people liked the structure and sales-orientated systems we were running, but it seemed like there wasn’t a lot of joy in the place.

As a result I hired a very talented HR manager and one of the first things she did was ask our people what they thought our values should be.

After much feedback we netted this down to the six values we have in place now, which are:

1. Accountability.

2. Excellence.

3. Proactivity.

4. Inclusiveness.

5. Innovation.

6. Integrity.

A lot of companies go through this process, yet end up putting their values on a wall or in a draw and forget about them.

We are different and this is key.

The team after winning the IBM Kenexa Best Workplaces Awards.

Every week we ask our 400-odd team members to nominate a co-worker if they see them demonstrating behaviour which supports our values.

Here’s a recent example:

Jess from Cuba St for Excellence… A massive congratulations to our magnificent Jess this week who not only sold a huge 7 doubles in one day, she also went on to smash her budget for the week finishing at 171% of her budget. Not only did this make for a great week but it also now means she is rocking for the quarter – Yeaaaaaaah! Nice work! xxx

Believe it or not, we receive between 70 to 90 nominations each week! These are published in our weekly newsletter, along with the names of all our people who have hit their numbers in the three different areas we measure.

We probably recognise over 200 of our 400 people in this very public document every week – and they love it.

On top of the recognition, I believe rewarding people for achieving is vital as well.

To this end, we give back more than 25% of our net profit to our people via incentives and bonuses each year. Despite this, we are one of the more profitable retailers around.

We now conduct 360 degree feedback throughout the organisation twice a year. But most importantly, we act on the feedback received from our people.

I’m proud to say we’ve been a Best Workplaces Finalist for each of the last 10 years, runner up four years straight and as you mentioned above, we have won this award for the last two consecutive years.

Assistant Managers with their winning certificates.

Assistant Managers with their winning certificates.


I know you’re a bit of a bibliophile. What are you reading right now?


The Human Brand by Chris Malone and Susan T. Fiske. A fantastic book based on the premise we judge brands and organisations in much the same way as we judge people.

Competence and warmth are the two key attributes, that if present in equal measure, are incredibly compelling.

Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger. This is all about why some products or ideas catch on, while others never gain traction. In this book he mentions six key attributes which seem to be the critical ingredients to making things go viral.

In the same vein is Lead with a Story by Paul Smith. I’m a great believer in story-telling as a communication tool, both with our people and to get an emotional buy-in from our customers.


Who have been some of the biggest role models in your life and what have they taught you?


My father has been pretty inspirational. Being a successful entrepreneur, he taught me the value of long term thinking and the importance of building a strong foundation for any enterprise. I am in awe of my wife Louise because of her patience and the way she focuses and applies herself – a challenge for someone with a short attention span like myself.

Lou does an amazing job with our product development, as well as being an incredible mum and partner.

Shane and Louise.

Louise and Shane.

You mentioned above I’m an avid reader and I always seem to go back to books by Russell Simmons who wrote Super Rich. His message is to give without expectation of anything coming back and good things seem to happen in your life.

Also, Eckhart Tolle and best selling book The Power of Now, with his philosophy of trying to always be present – and in the moment.

As a born daydreamer with a manic mind, this is something I continue to struggle with. Many of us continue to relive scenarios from the past, which can depress us – or worry about the future which never comes (when it does it’s the present). When actually, all the good stuff in life is happening right now – at this very moment.


What’s the toughest thing for you about being a leader?

What do you find most challenging about leading Overland Footwear?


Overcoming self-doubt. I spend a lot of time with our people in managers’ meetings and conferences, communicating our vision and strategy, and I’m always questioning myself about whether I am doing this clearly enough for people to understand.

In order to engage people in a truly emotional way, they need to resonate with the message and believe that as a result, their lives will improve.

This isn’t an easy task at times. Angela Ahrendts, Burberry CEO (2006-2014), put it beautifully when she said –

“Put yourself in your peoples’ shoes. All you want to know is what are you a part of, where are we going, what do you want me to do to help us get there?”

A lot of companies have a strategy to grow a bigger share of a customer’s wallet. Our strategy is to grow our “Share of People’s Heart” – whether it be our people, or our customers.


What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made as a leader and what did you learn from it?


Trying to go for the quick fix and not doing things properly. When I was in my early twenties I felt I was bullet proof and built a decent-sized operation at a young age, very quickly, but it didn’t have the structure it needed.

When the 1987 share market crashed I lost everything, including my house. I had to move in with my wife’s parents to survive.

This made me determined to ensure that when I got back on my feet, I would slow down, build brick by brick and only grow an organisation with a strong foundation, people focus and robust measurement systems.


What did you once believe in strongly, but don’t anymore?


That you need to be good at everything and work hard to overcome your faults. Life’s too short, so I now surround myself with people who have better skills than me in almost every area.

We have an amazing bunch of talented people on board here.


What about a time when you just about gave up? Tell us about that. What did you learn from that experience?


It’s not in my nature to give up. (Suzi – I love this answer! :-))


What’s next for Overland? World domination?


With 50 stores in New Zealand under the Overland and Mi Piaci brands, we’ve run out of space to grow here, so we’re now expanding into Melbourne – our eighth city.

The Melbourne store.

Mi Piaci in Melbourne.

We’ve taken the Overland concept to Australia and rebranded it Merchant est 1948 as well as Mi Piaci. Both are showing lots of promise.

We tend to double in size every six to seven years so I want to do this twice more over the next decade or so.

About Shane:

Shane Anselmi is the major shareholder and Managing Director of Overland Footwear, which has more than 45 stores across New Zealand and about 400 staff.

Click here to like Overland on Facebook.
Click here to connect with Overland on Instagram.


Tweet: @suzimcalpine #leadership interview with Shane Anselmi, MD of Overland Footwear http://ctt.ec/f6723+

1 Comment

  1. Gary Dalhousie on May 27, 2014 at 5:57 am

    Thanks. What a great blog. 🙂

    From the Gfone

Leave a Comment

Recent Posts from The Leader's Digest

Suzi McAlpine

Suzi McAlpine is a Leadership Development Specialist and author of the award-winning leadership blog, The Leader’s Digest. She writes and teaches about accomplished leadership, what magic emerges when it’s present, and how to ignite better leadership in individuals, teams and organisations. Suzi has been a leader and senior executive herself, working alongside CEOs and executive teams in a variety of roles. Her experience has included being a head-hunter, an executive coach, and a practice leader for a division at the world’s largest HR consulting firm. Suzi provides a range of services as a Leadership Development Specialist, including executive coaching, leadership workshops and development programmes for CEOs, leadership teams and organisations throughout New Zealand.

Welcome to

The Leader's Digest

Subscribe to The Leader’s Digest

Receive trending leadership topics and tips, straight to your inbox.

Please enter your name.
Please enter a valid email address.
Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

Internationally Recognised


The Leader's Digest App