Wellington Scoop

The new tech-savvy chief executive, and the (several) economic strategies

Saturday’s advertisement seeking a new chief executive for the Wellington City Council starts by describing the city, not the job, which makes it seem that the council wants someone from outside Wellington, or even from outside New Zealand.

The description of Wellington is a bit lack-lustre:

Compact, with a dramatic harbour landscape, Wellington is a lively city with a thriving cultural and sporting life, talented people, and cutting-edge businesses.

Is that enough to persuade someone to sell up and move here? The second sentence is the council’s description of itself.

Wellington City Council has a strong track record of serving the city effectively, meeting the needs of its 200,000 citizens by providing a sound infrastructure, and enabling the capital’s cultural, innovative and intelligent heart to thrive.

Strange to think of the council enabling the beating of our collective heart.

Now comes the job. Well, not yet. The second paragraph is about the council’s vision…

…to develop Wellington as a Smart Capital, a city where talent wants to live, work and play. Four high level community outcomes have been identified as critical for the city’s future: Eco-City, People-Centred City, Connected City, and Dynamic City Centre.

We get to the job, at last, in the third paragraph:

The Chief Executive needs to deliver these four outcomes, driving economic development and retaining businesses and talent in the Wellington region with a dynamic local government environment. We seek applications from leaders with a track record of high performance when delivering services in complex environments.

And who can apply? If you want the job, you must think strategically, lead creatively, and be

tech-savvy, with the intellectual grasp, dynamism and business acumen to deliver on the Council’s Smart Capital aspirations.

The new chief executive will discover that the city’s economic aspirations are not solely pushed by the council. They are also promoted by Grow Wellington, a council-financed organisation which has also been searching for a new chief executive. When Gerard Quinn was appointed last month, Grow Wellington’s chair said he

brings energy, strong leadership, and a wealth of experience in the field of economic development…balanced by a strong intellect and Gerard’s fresh perspective

Grow Wellington has to deliver the Wellington Regional Strategy, which is set by a committee of mayors and an independent chair. They have a different list of aims:

commercialisation of innovation; investment mechanisms for growth; building world class economic infrastructure; attracting business, investment and talent to the region; education and workforce development to service regional economy needs; and open for business.

Those six aims seem more specific than the four outcomes that the council’s future chief executive is being told to worry about. Strange that he (or she) isn’t on the committee that sets the regional policy. But he (or she) will have a more direct involvement with the council’s own Economic Development Strategy, which has another (yes, another) list of economic aims for Wellington. The council’s strategy bravely aims to create 10,000 new jobs in the next three years. It also says it will have a new long-haul airline flying from Wellington Airport by the end of this year.

The council hasn’t yet given us a progress report on how many jobs its strategy has created so far. And there’s been no announcement of the new airline that, the council says, must be flying in and out of Wellington by next year. Only two months to go. Perhaps the new chief executive will be someone with airline connections.

“Investment to set Wellington’s economy on a positive path”
More about the council’s economic strategy


  1. Rosamund, 25. October 2012, 12:30

    .A focus on serving the community seems lacking. After all, this is not an appointment to a commercial entity.
    Why grow when there is so much that needs fixing and with a focus on making our City more functional more will be achieved with what is…rather than hoping that what will be, will be.

    My ideal CEO would be someone like Don Huse…ex WIAL! Honest, personable and competent.

  2. TJ, 25. October 2012, 19:25

    Yes I agree with Rosamund, this technology focus and business growth is not at all what this city needs.
    It’s about core service provision and fixing the problems that have been left (or have increased with exactly this type of focus). The council cannot forget its purpose, for when it goes off the path of core service provision things go horribly wrong ( & we have examples of some really bad failed economic management).
    Simple and smart service provision is what we needed,and knowing the problems so they can be fixed.