Connect . Command . Compel


Avante were instrumental in helping us recognise our strengths and weaknesses by immersing its highly skilled team into the bloodstream of our business, giving us added confidence and focus to build better partnerships.

We found Avante's skills building programmes invaluable. The 'Presentation and Professional Selling Skills' programme gave us the tools to significantly grow a major account because we approached the business strategy and issues from the client's perspective.

Likewise Avante's strategy and alignment support has helped us successfully communicate the group's vision and goals to our operational staff. This has given them a greater sense of ownership and empowered them to make better decisions with the big picture in mind.

Tom Monaghan

VP Alberto Culver - Europe, Middle East & Africa

Carat New Zealand has had a strong, productive relationship with Avante for nearly 5 years. In that time, they have assisted us in several key areas of our business.

The first has been in guiding, supporting and assisting us change the focus of our business, both internally and externally. Critical to the success of this refocussing has been the mind-set changes required by all our personnel, a widely diverse group of professionals. Whilst this evolution of our business is ongoing, it's current success can be measured in both continued business growth and performance with importantly, minimal staff turnover. This is particularly pleasing, in what is traditionally considered a very transient business category.

Indeed we've been so successful in this process, that several of our People Development dynamics are being considered for implementation by the wider Carat Group.

The second area of assistance has been within our business pitching programme.

Avante has coached us in building interrogated structure around the actual pitch, ensuring we enter these important presentations with a full understanding of who we are talking to coupled with a high level of pragmatism and single-mindedness in our thoughts - ensuring our audiences are left in no doubt as to how and why we can help them.

Our ongoing 80%+ success rate of pitching is further evidence that Avante's contribution is working for us.

Robert Roydhouse

Managing Director - Carat New Zealand


 Avante was recommended to us by the Aegis Group as a training organisation with a great reputation working within Agencies and Media Owners after we'd been left distinctly unimpressed by many of the training companies in the UK. As a New Zealand based organisation with significant international scope, Avante have some distinct advantages including a thorough understanding of the media business and a genuine empathy for the team being trained. As a direct result of their input we've been able to clearly articulate and create a compelling, differentiated sales proposition for Virgin Radio in the UK - one that separates us from a crowded and increasingly commoditised market place. Through fostering strong, enduring and rewarding client relationships, I'm pleased to say we are recording fantastic results in terms of revenue targets.

Nick Hewat - Sales Director

Virgin Radio UK 

As General Manager of AIA New Zealand between 1994 and 2002, I supervised the growth of the business strategy and achieved the expansion objectives of the company between those years. By 1999, we reached a growth plateau and for some months the strategy appeared to be flattening out and in danger of becoming obsolete. At this time, an approach was made by Gretchen Darling from Avante which embraced the rejuvenation of the AIA strategic management process. This was implemented firstly by engaging the attention and participation of the members of the management team in specific skill-set improvement initiatives, and, secondly, by facilitating a review of all corporate strategic aims and objectives. The impact on the management team and the wider body of staff was both dramatic and effective. The flow-on effect to all corporate measurement indices was highly significant and was instrumental in placing AIA in a prominent position in the New Zealand market.

The knowledge, skill, and professionalism of the Avante team were also central factors in the re-alignment and subsequent dynamic growth strategy implementation while I was Managing Director of the AIG Life Australia operation between 2003 and 2006. In both territories, Avante’s input assisted the companies for which I had responsibility in achieving the most rapid growth rates of any life and related financial services organizations in their respective markets.

The dedication and thoroughness which characterizes Gretchen’s approach is present throughout the Avante team, and I have no hesitation in offering the strongest possible recommendation to any prospective clients

David Whyte M.A. (Hons), DipBusAdmin, M.Mgt.

Managing Director - W A Taylor & Associates (Int) Pty Ltd

Having worked with Gretchen Darling over several years and in two different professional service firms, the key factors that would lead me to recommend her and Avante are:

* constant adding of value to every project she has acted on with me.
* very pragmatic and practical at working out solutions on a wide variety of problems.
* never afraid to challenge or deliver some hard truths when needed yet work with you to achieve consensus and success.

Quality and Risk Partner

 'Top Four' UK Tax & Audit Group

Talent Management is probably the most important task for management today. It is about recruitment and developing the skills you need for driving your business forward.

Avante has helped us on several occasions to develop our management and business skills and has been instrumental to our success over the years - not only as training managers but in also understanding our needs and helping us to prioritise our development programmes. They have the cultural skills and network to do this across many parts of the world.

Patrick Stahle

CEO - Aegis Media APAC

I was first introduced to Gretchen Darling and the team at Avante Executive Development in 2003. Through a combination of strategic planning, change management, team performance expertise and soft skills training Avante partnered with our organisation and helped establish a market leading business operating in the Life, Disability & Health Insurance Market.

In our time of association the distribution team continually exceeded growth expectations and developed into a unit where team spirit and enjoyment became second to none. In particular, we were able to build a sales team of exceptional skill and, more importantly, a team who completely supported and encouraged each other. Avantes soft skills training programmes in Presentation Skills and Negotiation are first class.

Now, in a new organisation, I still choose Avante as a training partner and as professional development coaches. Their track record and expertise in Financial Services is outstanding. I would recommend the Avante team to any organisation looking to build profitable and high achieving businesses. They differentiate themselves from others in the market by truly partnering with their clients and delivering results from within.

Brent Wright

Head of Distribution - Tower Life & Health (NZ) Ltd

When you take on new and bigger roles you do so with a level of excitement and anticipation. There is so much to do, the expectations of your new bosses and yourself can be overwhelming. You have to hit the ground running. Executive coaching creates the opportunity to focus and prioritize on the key things that will make a difference. It gives you clarity and allows you to work in a unique way that is tailored to your needs. You are never exposed, its collaborative and empowering but it’s fun as well. You achieve goals together.

It gave me unwavering belief in what I wanted to achieve and the path to those achievements. A belief that I could express to colleagues and peers to garner their support. It created an infectious enthusiasm for change, in an industry that has seen little change. The successful implementation of part of the change strategy has seen a team of experienced and talented professionals operate in a new and profitable way, focused on future developments not historical hurdles.

The responsibility always lies with the coachee to take advantage of this privileged relationship. The Coach doesn’t and shouldn’t give the answers, but I was subconsciously encouraged to ask myself the questions that needed to be answered.

What Avante Coaching allowed me to do was set my own goals; effectively manage hurdles and challenges and helped me to realise my personal and business growth opportunities. Gretchen steered, encouraged and helped shape my professional course with a mixture of anecdotes, personal experiences and a few laughs on the way.

It was unsaid, but we both knew when we’d achieved our goals for this stage. When she stepped back I was focussed and in control and thankfully still seem to be on course. No doubt we’ll work again when the next challenge comes along.

James Parkinson

Group M - Trading Director Australia