Helen Garner says people want to have "the best life that we can" despite living through uncertain times.
And to do that she says the business community needs to be strong and prepared for change.
"We're all here for the economic prosperity of the region, because that translates into employed, fed, watered, supported people," Garner said.
Garner began her new role as chief executive of the Whanganui Chamber of Commerce this week and is the first to do so in a fulltime capacity.
She has been involved in small businesses her whole life; her parents owned dairies and takeaway stores which she would help out in.
"It wasn't just about them supporting themselves and supporting our family," she said.
"There were people that they looked after and they would be delivering produce and I saw the good that a strong healthy business community can bring".
She sees that in Whanganui too.
"Seriously, we just are in paradise, don't lose sight of that."
Her husband's family has lived here for six generations and she moved here just over a year ago from Auckland.
Her recent work includes being a trainer mentor for Business Mentors New Zealand and she has previously worked as a business centre manager for the Tauranga Chamber of Commerce.
Garner said the diverse range of backgrounds on the chamber board was representative of the business community and reflected the people in Whanganui.
"You can't just put one brush stroke across businesses and say this business says this. Our businesses are as diverse as our community."
She said when it came to business, change was inevitable and she was focused on preparing businesses for that.
"We're living with a level of uncertainty that a lot of us haven't seen.
"It just comes back to putting your business into the best possible space that you can. Be prepared for change and be prepared to move if and when you need to.
"Let's get ourselves ready for opportunity but if we're ready for opportunity, we'll also be able to manage a challenge."
Garner said because every business was different, the challenges they faced would be different.
"You can't put a blanket statement to round things, because there are so many different businesses at so many different stages.
"Some industries I have seen are really challenged, and for others they're thriving."
Covid would remain a big challenge for businesses.
"You can't avoid it.
"If it's not Covid, it could potentially be other things in the future. Let's make our businesses as healthy as we can and then as the challenges come along they are better equipped. Let's build resilience."
Garner said 2022 would have its own Covid challenges and a move away from lockdowns to potentially living with the virus.
"We're trying to prepare for a new normal but we don't know what that new normal is.
"I'm very focussed on what I'm here to do. I'm not an empire builder, I want to create something that people want to be part of and that they'll see benefit in.
"It's not my success or the chamber's success, it's that collective chamber community. If they're good, we're good".
Garner replaces Susan Stuart who resigned in November.
Under Stuart's tenure, the chamber had a 29 per cent increase in membership.
Garner attributed that to the leadership of the chamber last year and hoped it would continue.
"We're not going out trying to sell membership, we are making ourselves relevant and people will want to be a part of what we're doing."