Whanganui & Partners has a new chief executive with Mark Ward appointed to fill the vacancy left by Philippa Ivory's sudden departure in August.

Ward will take up the role as head of the Whanganui District Council's economic development agency on January 7.

"Mark has significant strategic leadership and business experience and we look forward to welcoming him to the role and to Whanganui," council chief executive Kym Fell said.

"We went to considerable lengths to find the right person for this key role and in Mark we felt we had a candidate with excellent credentials and proven capability."


The job title has also been upgraded to chief executive after former Whanganui and Partners leaders have carried the general manager title.

The council said this was "re-shaped based on the calibre of candidate, on the recommendation of Sheffield, our independent recruitment firm and to align with the likes of [similar economic development agencies]".

Ward holds an MSc in cellular biology and molecular genetics from Auckland University and an MBA from Deakin University in Melbourne. His experience includes chief executive roles with the Wellington-based New Zealand Veterinary Association and Crop and Food Research.

He has been involved in research and development, high level partnerships and financial and business performance improvement.

Ward plans to relocate to Whanganui from Levin and says he is delighted to have been selected to lead the team at Whanganui & Partners.

Whanganui & Partners board chair Myles Fothergill said Ward would bring a fresh perspective.

"We certainly had a number of very talented applicants for this position, so it wasn't an easy decision, but we needed the right fit for economic development," Fothergill said.

"We have an excellent, well-rounded team and this is now completed with the appointment of Mark as chief executive."