Chamber welcomes changes at the top

Date Added: 25th March 2015 from

The Wellington Employers' Chamber of Commerce welcomes changes at the top, with its new Chief Executive starting work and a new President and Vice-President being elected at the recently held AGM.

John Milford, formerly the President, has taken up his role as Chief Executive of Wellington Chamber of Commerce and Business Central after being appointed to the role last year. At the annual general meeting, Vice-President Peter Cullen was elected President, while board member Cas Carter was elected Vice-President.

Mr Cullen is principal of Cullen Law employment lawyers, and Ms Carter is Assistant Vice-Chancellor at Massey University.

Also at the AGM, board members Ian Cassels (The Wellington Company), John Dow (Agenda Ltd), and Charles Finny (Saunders Unsworth) were re-elected to the board. Daniel Fielding (Minter Ellison Rudd Watts) was elected as a new board member. They join current board members Linda Sissons (Wellington Institute of Technology), Richard Stone (Jacksonstone & Partners), Pierre Woolridge (Optimum Websites), Brent Callaghan (Westpac), Olivier Lacoua (CQ Hotels) and Zane Fulljames (NZ Bus).

Mr Cullen says he's honoured to be elected President and to lead a great team of dedicated Wellingtonians.

"I'm looking forward to helping drive Wellington Employers' Chamber of Commerce in the direction John and the board were taking it.

"Keeping the city council accountable and ensuring everyone does their best to take this city and this region forward is what we are about, and it's great the board is largely unchanged.

"There is great skill and drive on the board and we look very much forward to working with John Milford to achieve our aims."

Mr Milford says he's delighted to being able to tackle the challenges ahead from a different angle.

"I'm looking forward to the wider role the position offers. There is much work to be done by a lot of people and the Chamber is ready for it.

"While there has been much planning, thinking, and debate about Wellington's future, the economic picture to date is sobering. Our performance has been mixed and, among other considerations, the lack of purpose-built 21st century infrastructure is holding our city and region back.

"In saying all that, Wellington is coming into an exciting phase of the growth and development for the region, including the proposals for an extended runway, a deeper shipping channel and a more connected regional roading network. We've got to ensure we have the right infrastructure to meet today's demands and grow the region for the future.

He said he had his own ideas about how the city should progress but first and foremost he was keen to see that ratepayers' money was spent wisely on projects that mattered.

"Our members have plenty of ideas about how the city and region should progress, but top of mind is that ratepayers' money is spent wisely on projects that make a difference.

"I'm a big fan of transparency. Business appreciates that it has to contribute, but it also wants to know that its money is spent on projects that will take the region forward, strengthen economic growth and attract new business.

"Business contributes around 50 per cent of the rates take so we expect to have some influence on how it's spent, and I'm keen to see that progress."

John Milford
Has extensive experience in the business and retail sector. He comes to the role after heading Wellington icon Kirkcaldie & Stains since 2006, before which he was General Manager Australia for Repco, General Manager-CEO of Pacific Retail Group, and General Manager of Farmers Trading Company. He was on the Partnership Wellington Trust for five years, chaired Positively Wellington Tourism, and has been on the board of Wellington Employers' Chamber of Commerce since 2009 and of BusinessNZ since 2013.
He was President of the Wellington Employers' Chamber of Commerce for two years. He replaces Raewyn Bleakley who has taken up the position of Regional Director Central at the New Zealand Transport Agency.

Peter Cullen, President
Studied at Victoria University where he was President of the Students' Association in the 1970s. He worked at what was then Bell Gully & Co, as a Law Clerk and Office Solicitor, and then worked for the Law Reform Division of the Justice Department.
Following that he worked at the employment coalface as an industrial advocate. He returned to the practice of law in 1990. In 1994 he established his own firm, Cullen - The Employment Law Firm. He works for both employers and employees and has built upon his experience as an industrial advocate. He convened the Wellington District Law Society Employment Law Committee from its inception until 2004. Peter is a current member of NZLS Employment Law Committee, and is honorary consul to Colombia.

Cas Carter, Vice-President
An experienced corporate communications, public relations and marketing specialist who has held the position of Assistant Vice-Chancellor at Massey University for more than four years. Prior to the education sector, Cas worked in the tourism industry for more than 15 years, including heading corporate communications for Tourism NZ, Private Secretary to the Minister of Tourism, and Marketing and Communications manager for the inaugural Wellington tourism organisation. Before that she worked in newspapers. She has a Bachelor of Social Sciences from Waikato University and an Applied Masters in Recreation and Leisure from Victoria University.

Daniel Fielding, Minter Ellison Rudd Watts
A senior solicitor at Minter Ellison Rudd Watts, based in the disputes resolution team, specialising in general employment, immigration, government contracting, private and public sector governance, as well as law reform processes, lobbying strategy, and public policy advice. Prior to joining Minter Ellison Rudd Watts, he worked in a number of public affairs and corporate communication roles including some time in the Office of Prime Minister John Key. This experience allowed him to develop a unique set of skills that traverses legal, policy and political advice. He has advised and is involved with a number of not-for-profit organisations providing governance advice. He is a graduate of Victoria University and is an active member in the wider Wellington business community through a number of organisations.

About Wellington Employers' Chamber of Commerce (WECC)
WECC is the Wellington presence of Business Central, and was formed by the merger in 2010 of the Employers and Manufacturers Association (Central) and the Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce.
WECC is the biggest membership organisation representing Wellington business. It lobbies specifically on issues impacting on local businesses and the Wellington economy, as well as providing networking and development opportunities for its members.