Editorial: It's time to get house in order

By Andrew Austin

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The situation the Hawke's Bay Chamber of Commerce finds itself in is rather unfortunate.

It is not a good look for the chamber and Business Hawke's Bay when the man appointed as CEO of both bodies resigns after only one month in the job.

Gavin Bush, whom many people did not know much about when he was appointed and who has been extremely low-key during his brief tenure, resigned last week amid claims of a rift between him and chamber staff.

It was supposed to be a good week for the chamber, with one of the highlights of the organisation's year - the annual Westpac Hawke's Bay Business Awards - on Thursday night. The awards function was a huge success but a number of the guests at the dinner did notice that the new CEO was not there. The chamber's response was that he had urgent family business to deal with. It was only the next day that the chamber confirmed Mr Bush had resigned.

In hindsight, the Chamber of Commerce may wish it had handled the announcement of Mr Bush's resignation a bit differently.

There was much fanfare when Mr Bush was appointed, taking over from the hardworking and effective Murray Douglas. Like him or not, Mr Douglas was good at his job - promoting the local economy and standing up for business.

It seems as if Mr Bush's management style may have been quite different from what the chamber staff were used to. Mr Douglas was the public face of the chamber and Business Hawke's Bay but apparently allowed staff to carry on with their work behind the scenes. It has been said that Mr Bush adopted a more hands-on style and this upset some staff. It is believed a complaint was made to the chamber's board and some staff reportedly indicated they could not work under Mr Bush.

All Mr Bush, whose background is waste management, will say is that he left because of philosophical differences.

Wherever the problem lies, it is now time for Katja Williams, the president, and her board to fix the situation. They need to learn from this experience and make sure they get a new CEO who fits the role. They are sure to make the right choices.

The captains of industry are never slow to criticise the decision making of our elected representatives - the politicians, but it is now time for them to get their own house in order.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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