New chamber boss, Wayne Walford has eye on growth

By Lawrence Gullery

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The leadership role of the Hawke's Bay Chamber of Commerce and Business Hawke's Bay will be separated following the pay debacle over their short-lived chief executive Gavin Bush.

Mr Bush was to head both organisations when he was employed last year, but Hawke's Bay Today understands he was hired by the Chamber before it had secured full funding for the position. He left shortly after his appointment in December.

This week, the Chamber tried to put that behind it with the announcement of its new chief executive, Waikato business leader Wayne Walford.

Mr Walford grew up in Hawke's Bay and is the former CEO of the Waikato Chamber of Commerce, a position he held for four years.

He has experience in information technology, health, hospitality, the arts and local government.

Mr Walford said the Hawke's Bay offered many exciting opportunities for businesses to grow. "I am looking forward to using my connections and experience to add breadth and depth to the commercial sector in Hawke's Bay and, ultimately, increase the value proposition for Chamber members."

Mr Walford said Hawke's Bay companies had the chance to capitalise on the free-trade agreement with China, and he planned to share his connections in this area with potential exporters.

He said he enjoyed the challenges of leadership and assisting others to realise their potential.

"I really believe in enriching and empowering people to reach their potential and achieve success in business," he said.

Mr Walford is credited with lifting the profile of the annual Westpac Waikato Business Excellence Awards. He said he was excited about leading the Hawke's Bay event in November and encouraged businesses to enter.

Chamber president Katja Williams said Mr Walford was well-placed to lead a fresh strategic direction for businesses in Hawke's Bay.

A meeting of both the Chamber and Business Hawke's Bay boards will be held on Tuesday to consider the leadership of Business Hawke's Bay.

Ms Williams confirmed that separate leadership would be put in place for Business Hawke's Bay in the near future.

"We believe that dedicated leadership for each organisation will create a stronger path towards tangible growth for Chamber members, and for the region as a whole," she said.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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