New Rotorua Chamber of Commerce boss revealed

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New Rotorua Chamber of Commerce CEO Darrin Walsh is excited about the challenges ahead. Photo/Stephen Parker
New Rotorua Chamber of Commerce CEO Darrin Walsh is excited about the challenges ahead. Photo/Stephen Parker

A former banker with a passion for helping businesses succeed is the new Rotorua Chamber of Commerce boss.

Darrin Walsh has been appointed the chamber's new chief executive, beating 11 other applicants. He will take up the role on Monday.

The position has been vacant since long-serving chief executive Roger Gordon's employment was terminated in March. Mr Gordon later received a public apology from the chamber for the way his employment ended.

Born and raised in Wellington, Mr Walsh worked for ANZ for about 29 years, including stints in the Cook Islands and Hawke's Bay. He was the bank's Rotorua-based regional manager business banking from 2011 until he was made redundant about a month ago.

He said the chamber job was ideal as he had a passion for working with businesses and he and his family were keen to stay in Rotorua.

"All my career has been around business banking ... helping small to medium size businesses succeed," he said.

"The Chamber of Commerce is right up my alley."

The 48-year-old said he was "very pleased" to have been awarded the job, after a final interview day last week that included interviews by chamber staff, member stakeholders and finally the executive committee.

"The whole process of coming out of a job, being made redundant, is always a daunting process.

"To see a role you you have a passion for and succeed in it being offered to you is satisfying."

Mr Walsh said the next few weeks would be all about introducing himself to and building relationships with chamber members, sponsors and stakeholders such as the Rotorua District Council - "hearing what issues are out there and dealing with those issues".

He admitted it would be a challenging role, right from day one.

"But I'm confident. I've always been one that's enjoyed challenges."

Chamber president Kathy Hawker said she was aware Mr Walsh had also applied for a regional advisor role with the New Zealand Trade and Enterprise partnership so he was quickly "nabbed" for the chamber job.

"I saw something in Darrin, I knew he was going to fit the role really well. He's got the contacts, has done a lot of hard yards in the bank role, he ticks all our boxes," she said.

She said it was a new start for the chamber, which had moved on from the controversy of Mr Gordon's departure and was excited about the future with Mr Walsh at the helm.

"We needed direction, we needed someone to help lead us in that direction as well."

Mr Walsh will attend the Chamber's Kikstart breakfast at Princes Gate Hotel tomorrow morning and its Business After Five on Tuesday to introduce himself to members.

- ROTORUA DAILY POST

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