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SWDC starts searching for new chief executive

South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] is on the hunt for a new chief executive, with a wide-ranging search process kicking off next week.

The process is expected to be thorough and inclusive. All SWDC councillors are expected to play some role to make sure the new incumbent is the right fit for the position.

The vacancy follows the departure of former chief executive Harry Wilson, who resigned earlier this month. Paul Gardner, SWDC general manager human resources and corporate services, is currently interim chief executive.

SWDC mayor Martin Connelly said the council wants someone with good general and relationship management skills, and the ability to effectively manage external contractors, as well as deal with challenges posed by emerging risks like climate change.

“We are looking for a person who has demonstrated an ability to work successfully with an elected council or similar board while providing effective professional leadership to her or his staff. In addition, we want a chief executive who connects well with our communities,” Connelly said.

“We are looking for some specific skills, including having the capability to improve standards of customer service.

“The council has identified the need to have a chief executive who has experience in managing outsourced services in a way that improves the quality of service our residents get and ensures accountability from contracting firms.”

Connelly praised the district as an attractive place to work, with its three unique small towns and extensive rural area.

“The region has stunning scenery and a long and interesting history going back to the time that Kupe arrived in Aotearoa New Zealand. Yet we are half an hour away from city-life, and an hour from an international airport.

“The work will be interesting, challenging, and will offer the new chief executive the chance to gain experience across all aspects of local body management.”

Connelly said the way local government works is changing, and the chief executive will ideally be able to seize the opportunities presented by these changes in a confident and innovative way.

“Over the next 10 years, we need our district to be more resilient to climate change. We are seeking a chief executive who will help us make the South Wairarapa the best it can be.”

The recruitment process is being overseen by SWDC councillor Kaye McAulay, chair of the chief executive employment committee, who said a specialist independent recruitment agency will be helping. McAulay has been chief executive of a recruitment company and has experience appointing chief executives.

“We will be having all the councillors meet the shortlisted candidates to ensure the future chief executive and councillors feel that they can work as a united team. We are running a very inclusive process.”

Advertising for the role is expected to start next week, with more information available soon on the council’s website: swdc.govt.nz.

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