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‘Stellar…inspired’ lineup for new regional economic board, says its chairman

News from WCC
The eight people selected to the inaugural Board of the Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency (WREDA) are a “stellar” lineup of New Zealand business, research and academic leaders, according to the Board’s first Chair, Peter Biggs.

ANnouncing the eight new directors today, Mr Biggs said the Board will provide powerful and inspired direction.

The new agency will bring together the region’s Grow Wellington economic development agency with existing city tourism and venues agencies and major events activities.

Mr Biggs, a well-known marketing and cultural entrepreneur, has returned to Wellington following eight years in Melbourne and only this month took up the appointment as Chair. He says the main task is to “hit the ground running” – organising WREDA as an entity while at the same time pushing the new body to start contributing to – and leading – work to get the region’s economy moving faster.

He says the Board is healthy and diverse across gender and experience. “We had a huge range of extremely capable contenders – and it was an extremely difficult decision to choose the final line-up. It’s very gratifying to know that the Wellington region has such a depth of talented people prepared to commit themselves to the prosperity of the region and its people.”

Mr Biggs says the Board – which is expected to meet for the first time in December – faces a range of opportunities and challenges. “We want to help the region to become internationally competitive across a range of industries and sectors. We’ve also got big, aspirational, projects like an airport runway extension that we want to champion and get built.”

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown and Greater Wellington Regional Council Chair Fran Wilde and other regional leaders have welcomed the appointment of the directors.

Mayor Wade-Brown says the calibre and number of applicants through the advertised process were high. “This important agency will increase local jobs, income and the visibility of our Capital. We have world-class film, IT, education, arts, food, eco-tourism and much more in a diverse welcoming region. WREDA is charged with bringing the world to Wellington and Wellington to the world. The Board, led by Peter Biggs, is well-positioned to make a real difference.”

Chair Wilde says the Wellington region has some serious challenges and some serious opportunities. “This board will play a significant role in making sure we can harvest the opportunities, building on the base established by the three organisations it will replace.”

Mayoral Forum Chair and Upper Hutt Mayor Wayne Guppy says: “We’re expecting great things from this great group of people. They have a rich mix of talent and skills that will be of great benefit to the region.”

The directors

Dr Helen Anderson
Governance experience includes:
• Chair, Wellington Branch Committee, Institute of Directors, 2014-present
• Chair, (previously Deputy Chair) Building Research Association of New Zealand, from 2011
• Chair, External Advisory Group, Department of Internal Affairs, July 2013-present.
• Director, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, July 2011-present.
• Chair, Risk and Assurance Committee, Land Information New Zealand, 2010-present.
• Independent Director, DairyNZ, May 2010-present.
• Chair, Fulbright New Zealand, December 2009-present.

Executive leadership background:
• Chief Executive, Ministry of Research, Science and Technology (MoRST) 2004-2010.
• Chief Science Advisor, then Acting CEO of MoRST, 1997-2004.
• Earlier background as a seismology research scientist, before becoming Director, Earth and Ocean Sciences at the University of Otago/Institute of Geological Sciences in 1994.

Matt Clarke
Governance experience includes:
• Director, Nelson Airport Limited.
• Previous Director roles in various airport entities.

Executive and Commercial Leadership Background:
• Chief Commercial Officer, Wellington Airport, since 2010.
• Matt joined Infratil in 2006 and was based in the UK as the CEO of Infratil’s Kent International Airport until 2010, when he returned home to New Zealand.
• Previously held the role of Chief Executive, Rotorua Airport.

Sarah Gibbs
Governance experience includes:
• Trustee, Positively Wellington Tourism Trust. Chair of Audit and Finance Committee.
• Non-Executive Director of Trilogy International and Chair of REM Committee.
• Board Member, Export New Zealand.
• Advisory Committee Member, Marmont Capital.
• Other governance involvement within the cosmetics industry.

Commercial and executive leadership background
• Joint founder and Chief Executive of Trilogy International Ltd, since 2003.
• Sold the natural skincare company to Ecoya in 2010, which has retained and traded under the successful Trilogy International brand. Retained an equity holding and has ongoing governance involvement.
• Previous mergers and acquisition experience gained in the United Kingdom with JP Morgan and Deutsche Bank.
• Early background as a chartered accountant, with audit roles in New Zealand, Hong Kong and South Africa.

Professor Grant Guilford
Governance experience includes:
• Director, Board of UniServices Limited, 2012-2014.
• Chairman, AgResearch Science Advisory Panel, 2012-2014.
• Director, Board of Genomics NZ Limited, 2009-2014.
• Director, Board of Landcare Research Limited, 2009-2012.

Executive and academic leadership background:
• Vice Chancellor, Victoria University of Wellington since 2014.
• Management and academic head, responsible for ensuring the university carries out its statutory and contractual functions in teaching, research and community service.
• Dean, Faculty of Sciences, University of Auckland, 2009-2014.
• Head, Institute of Natural Sciences, Massey University, 2009.
• Head, Institute of Veterinary, Animal & Biomedical Sciences, Massey University, 1998-2009.

Richard Laverty
Governance experience includes:
• Director, Xenos
• Director, Golden Ticket Limited
• Member, Angel HQ Wellington

Executive leadership and commercial background:
• General Manager Strategy, Performance and Partners, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE), 2011-present.
• General Manager Capital, NZTE, 2011-2013.
• Operations Director – ICT, Creative & Services, NZTE, 2010-2011.
• Regional Director – Europe, Middle East, Africa, NZTE, 2005-2010.
• Founder, owner and Director, Xenos, 2004-present. A business that manufactures and exports aseptic bottling systems.
• Substantial leadership background in Fonterra/NZ Dairy Board 1997-2004. Held roles across marketing, global sales and strategy, as well as regional and operational leadership positions.

Paul Mersi
Governance experience includes:
• Chair, Grow Wellington.
• Member, Audit & Risk and CEO Performance Committees.
• Independent non-executive Director, Brook Asset Management Limited (a Macquarie Group company). Member of Audit and Due Diligence Committees.
• PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Governance Board member for a number of years.

Professional and commercial background:
• Self-employed Independent Consultant, Paul Mersi Consulting, since September 2010.
• Member of NZ Government-appointed Savings Working Group.
• Assisted Financial Services Council of NZ’s Board and management with its strategy and structure.
• Consultant to Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment on savings-related public policy issues and to Commission for Financial Literacy and Retirement Incomes on savings-related tax policy issues.
• Previously was a Partner at PWC (1994-2010), largely focusing on taxation and financial services sector issues.

Thomas Pippos
Governance experience includes:
• Director, Deloitte New Zealand Board.
• Member, Deloitte Asia Pacific Leadership Council.

Professional and executive leadership background:
• National Chief Executive, Deloitte, 2011 – present.
• National Managing Tax Partner, Deloitte.
• Managing Tax Partner, Deloitte.
• Partner within Deloitte for 13 years.
• Tax Policy Advisor, Minister of Revenue and Finance (on secondment)

Lorraine Witten
Governance experience includes:
• Chair, Kordia Limited, since 2008.
• Chairman, Starnow, since November 2012.
• Director, Positively Wellington Venues, since December 2011.
• Board member and Chairman, Programme Review Committee, NZTE, 2004-2011.
• Chairman, Sapphire Currency Fund Limited, since 2006.
• Chairman, Pulse Business Solutions and Callsouth Limited, 2004-2007.
• Director, Health Benefits Limited, 2000-2002.
• Chairman, Finance and Audit Committee, Capital Coast Health Limited 1998-2000.
• Director, Healthlink South Limited, 1996-1998.

Core professional background/executive leadership/commercial background
• Founder, Shareholder and Managing Director, Simply Security Limited, since 2007.
• General Manager, NZ Mobile, Telecom New Zealand, 1997-2003.
• Group Financial Controller, ENZAFRUIT New Zealand, 1997.
• CFO and Company Secretary, Canterbury International 1994-1997.

Press Release – Wellington Employers’ Chamber of Commerce
The board of the Wellington region’s new economic development agency has a great mix of business, research and academic grunt, says Wellington Employers’ Chamber of Commerce President John Milford.

“This is a high-powered board and exactly what WREDA needs to take the region forward. Each of them brings something special to the table that will help drive economic growth in the region.

“The Chamber said that Chairman Peter Biggs needed a board with business nous, a passion and strong knowledge of the region, the ability to think outside the square, and the energy to get things done – and he has got it. The fact that the number of members was increased so none of these people missed out is testament to the strengths they will each bring.

“This merger of Grow Wellington and the City Council’s tourism, venues, and major events agencies is a wonderful opportunity for the region and we must not waste it.

“Given that WREDA’s $40 million-plus budget comes from business rates, we will be looking for a great return on that investment. WREDA needs to be brave in the things they try, and if they are then we will all be applauding. The Chamber looks very much forward to working with them.

“Our region needs to strive to be different, and if we can be different then we will succeed. This is good news for the region and I look forward to great things from this board.”

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