Wellington Scoop

South African chosen to run Wellington’s economic development agency

News from WREDA
The Wellington Economic Development Agency has appointed Chris Whelan as its first Chief Executive.

Mr Whelan is currently CEO of business think-tank Accelerate Cape Town in South Africa and will take up his role in Wellington on 7 September.

WREDA Chair, Peter Biggs, says the Board was delighted to find a person who combines an economic development and growth focus with strong leadership skills.

“Chris is an economic development expert and just the person to help realise the enormous potential and confidence we all have in Wellington City and the region.

“He also has the management experience to lead the transition that will combine the five existing business units into the recently formed Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency.”

Before his current role, Mr Whelan was based in Sydney where he headed research and analysis for the Asia Pacific region of consulting firm Ernst and Young.

“My current role as head of Cape Town’s business think-tank is all about regional economic growth and there are many parallels with the Wellington region.

“I’m excited by this opportunity and look forward to meeting the WREDA team next month when I’ll be visiting Wellington.”

Mr Whelan has New Zealand residence and is moving here permanently with his wife and two school age children.

“We’re lucky to get someone with Chris’ mix of skills and experience to lead WREDA, and we look forward to welcoming him to his new home and role,” says Mr Biggs.

Chris Whelan – Biography

Chris Whelan hails from Cape Town, South Africa where he is Chief Executive of business leadership organization, Accelerate Cape Town – a position he’s held since 2012.

Accelerate Cape Town has played a key part in putting Cape Town on the map as one of the world’s most liveable cities. Its focus is on growing a robust and sustainable and inclusive regional economy.

As Chief Executive, Chris has worked closely with a wide group of commercial, political and community leaders and their organisations. He is an experienced management consultant and futurist who has worked in a range of strategic thinking, strategy development and business transformation roles. He also serves as the Deputy Chairperson of Cape Town Design, a not-for-profit company charged with delivering World Design Capital 2014 for the city, and is the HR Sub-committee Chairperson for Wesgro, the regional Tourism, Trade and Investment Promotion agency.

Prior to returning to South Africa to lead Accelerate Cape Town, Chris was the Chief Knowledge Officer for Ernst and Young Knowledge in Asia Pacific.

Chris specialises in systems thinking, scenario planning and performance improvement, leadership development and business relationship building. He also has an advocacy role in the focus areas of Africa; innovation and entrepreneurship, connectedness and talent attraction and retention.

Chris holds a Masters in Philosophy in Futures Studies and a Bachelor of Business Science.