Queens Birthday Honours: F&P Healthcares Mike Daniell knighted

Think long term.

That’s the advice of Former Fisher and Paykel Healthcare chief executive and managing director Michael Daniell, who has been knighted in the Queen’s Birthday honours list for his services to business, healthcare and governance.

Daniell, who left the respiratory products maker in 2016, played a key role in making it the one of New Zealand’s biggest and most profitable companies.

He joined the research and development team in the nascent Medical Division of Fisher & Paykel Industries in 1979 and over a 37-year career he became the general manager of the renamed Healthcare Division in 1990 and chief executive of F&P Healthcare when it separated from the Appliances business of Fisher & Paykel in 2001.

Daniell was chief executive and managing director until 2016 and continues as a board member.

Under his leadership the F&P Healthcare team grew the business into a world leading company for the design, manufacture, marketing and sales of medical devices to assist patients with breathing difficulties.

F&P Healthcare – now the biggest company on the NZX in terms of market capitalisation -has the biggest global market share for intensive care respiratory humidifiers and high flow oxygen therapy systems.

It has 5,000 employees in more than 40 countries.

Daniell said he saw the knighthood as a recognition of the many people he had worked with at F&P Healthcare over many years.

“When I joined first in the research and development department, the respiratory business was only really just getting going,” he told the Herald.

“Its success initially stems [from an] idea from the then Department of Scientific and Industrial Research for use at AucklandHospital.

“The company over many years developed better and better technology over a broad range of applications, mainly for breathing conditions in the hospital and in the home,” he said.

“It was all with the company’s clear focus on improving patient outcomes across the globe,” he said.

The Covid-19 pandemic had seen the company upscale significantly.

“It’s been wonderful to see the efforts of the team here in Auckland but also in Mexico,” he said.

“Fortunately we were in a very good position to ramp up production,” he said.

As it turned out, technology developed by the company 15 years ago around high-flow oxygen turned out to be effective in treating severe Covid-19 cases.

In addition, the company set aside spare manufacturing capacity for the eventuality of a major pandemic.

“We took a decision more than a decade ago when we last had a pandemic scare to put in spare capacity in Auckland and Mexico,” he said.

“It turns out that it was needed, so it was very fortunate,” he said.

“Over the last few months the team has done a huge job in putting in additional capacity,” he said.

“With F&P Healthcare and the other organisations that I work with – long-term thinking is fundamental to what we do – and I think our success,” Daniell said.

He estimates that six of the 37 years with the company were spent on hundreds of trips overseas, for which he thanked the tolerance of his wife, Glenys.

Daniell was awarded CEO of the Year at the Deloitte Top 200 awards in 2013.

He has been a director of Tait Communications since 2015 and a member of the University of Auckland Council since 2011, chairing the finance committee.

He chairs the MedTech CoRE, a Centre of Research Excellence hosted by the university. Daniell is on the boards of the Medical Research Commercialisation Fund, Australasia’s largest life sciences venture capital fund and Cochlear, the world’s leading hearing implant company.

A Herald article published in 2009 noted that when Daniell was at the East Tamaki headquarters, he wasn’t hard to find.

“He doesn’t have an office and his unremarkable desk is one of many in an open-plan space where engineers, accountants, sales and marketing staff sit together,” the article said.

Daniell was proud of his team, many of whom have also been with the company for decades, and downplayed his own role in its success.

“My contribution is relatively small,” Daniell said then.

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