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Brett Hewlett new chair of Priority One

Brett Hewlett new chair of Priority One

MEDIA RELEASE: Tuesday 24 November 2015: Last night Brett Hewlett was elected as the new chair of economic development organisation, Priority One. Brett has spent the last 10 years as the chief executive of global honey and health food company Comvita New Zealand Limited.

Brett holds significant international business development experience, including roles in emerging and developed markets such as the Middle East, the United Kingdom and Europe. Brett is a director of US-based specialty medical device and pharmaceutical company Derma Sciences Inc (NASDAQ:DSCI) and a member of the stakeholder advisory group of Callaghan Innovation. He was also recently appointed as a director of SeaDragon Ltd (NZX:SEA). Brett has run his own strategy consulting company and has been an active angel investor, supporting start-up companies in New Zealand. Brettreplaces retiring chair Murray Denyer of Cooney Lees Morgan, who has not sought re-election after eight years on the board, for three of which he was the chair.

Priority One chief executive, Andrew Coker, says "Brett brings strong entrepreneurial and business leadership skills to the organisation that will be important to shaping Priority One and our future direction. He will complement current board members who have expertise across a range of industries that are a focus for us in growing the local economy. Brett also has a very strong sense of community, and this is reflected in his wider contribution to the Western Bay of Plenty sub-region.”

Incoming chair, Brett Hewlett, said “I am passionate about economic development for the region and delighted to have the opportunity to contribute to my local community in this way.”

Priority One’s recent Annual General Meeting saw two additional long standing board members retire, alongside Murray Denyer. Glenn Keaney of KPMG has served on the board for 10 years, while Alister Jones of the University of Waikato was elected to the board in 2011. Andrew says “Murray has been a tremendous advocate for Priority One and its goals and we, as a team, really valued his contribution. We knew that whatever opportunity or issue we raised with him would benefit from his considered thinking and input.”

“As a board member, Glenn contributed his significant financial skills to the management of our monthly accounts and has been the longstanding chair of the audit committee. His well thought out input to our projects will be very much missed,” says Andrew. “We would also like to thank Alister for his contribution to the board over the last four years. One of his key achievements was working alongside a wide range of stakeholders to see our vision of establishing a tertiary and research campus in the city centre about to become a reality.”

In addition to Brett Hewlett, Katikati based entrepreneur, Simon McDonald, and Sharp Tudhope partner, Kylie van Heerden, have been elected as new members of the board. "Simon is a self-confessed inventor, an innovator and he is highly entrepreneurial,” says Andrew. “Like Brett, Simon will bring skills that will shape the organisation's areas of focus, and direction. He also is strongly people-focused, and a very good example of this is the recent launch of his Hawaiki Rising youth development initiative. Kylie has a solid background in commercial law, including advising across a range of industries such as manufacturing, exporting, logistics and horticulture. Her commercial knowledge base provides her with an appreciation of the legal challenges and issues that many businesses face, which will add value to Priority One’s strategic direction.”

At the AGM, retiring chair Murray Denyer said “Once again this year, the calibre of all of the candidates for the three Board vacancies was extremely high, and that in itself is a great measure of the strength of the organisation. I am also sure that each of the three successful candidates will add considerable value to the future work of the Board. I, and the other retiring board members, am confident that the governance of the organisation is in 12 very safe pairs of hands.” Murray also thanked Andrew Coker and the Priority One team for another excellent year’s work. “Andrew is a great team leader and has a boundless enthusiasm and a passion for economic development that is very infectious. He should be proud of his own and his team’s achievements over the past year,” says Murray.

New board members Brett Hewlett (Comvita New Zealand), Kylie van Heerden (Sharp Tudhope) and Simon McDonald (Hawaiki Rising Voyaging Trust) join the existing board of Sara Lunham (Port of Tauranga), Simon Clarke (Trustpower), Simon Limmer (Zespri International), Adam Hazlett (Modern Office), Steve Saunders (Plus Group Horticulture), Scott Adams (Carrus Corporation), Mary-Anne Macleod (Bay of Plenty Regional Council) Garry Poole (Tauranga City Council) and Miriam Taris (Western Bay of Plenty District Council).


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