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New manager for Gisborne Chamber

The Gisborne Chamber of Commerce has a familiar face ready to drive forward a unified regional business agenda.

Following the resignation of chamber chief executive Terry Sheldrake, after he was elected to Gisborne District Council, Lena Bevan will now head up the chamber’s networking and advocacy role as manager of the Gisborne chamber.

Locally bred, with iwi affiliation to Ngati Porou and Ngai Tamanuhiri, Ms Bevan said the new structure would involve more hands-on support from the chamber’s executive board — not dissimilar to other smaller regions around New Zealand.

“Essentially, the role hasn’t changed but is part of the existing role of office manager/co-ordinator and parts of the previous chief executive role,” she said.

“It sounds a mammoth task but the aim is to work smarter, streamline a more focused, quality service based on the needs of our business network.

“For me, it is crucial that we work to diversify our chamber network in order to better represent our region and wider business community.

“Our collective voice is only as good as the influencers in the business ecosystem.

“Over the years, the chamber has seen a mix of roles, structures and people who have all contributed to shaping the chamber as it is today.

“The function of the chamber is a unique role in that it is multi-faceted and requires a broad skillset and knowledge base. However, the fundamental role is around relationships and working collaboratively towards a shared vision to ‘positively influence the environment in which businesses operate’.

“What is good for Tairawhiti is essentially good for business — to be successful, one cannot exist without the other.

“I feel very fortunate to have the support of an executive board who are energetic, proactive and forward-thinking. With a strength-based approach, we will work together utilising what skills and experience we have around the table. This, essentially, will be the advocacy hub.

“There is also the wider support network within the New Zealand Chambers of Commerce, which I see as a strong support base as well as resource for us here in Te Tairawhiti.

“After just a couple of meetings, I have already formed some great connections and friendships, which I look forward to continuing.”

Ms Bevan said she was looking forward to attending the next NZ Chambers of Commerce and Industry (NZCCI) network meeting and Westpac Auckland Business Awards gala later this month, alongside a chamber board representative.

Also coming up was the National Young Enterprise Scheme competition finals, which take place in Wellington in early December. There, Fishing for a Solution, run by Campion College students, will pitch for the national crown.

“I am looking forward to continuing the partnerships and really getting to know our business community up close.

“I am a passionate people connector, and value listening and engaging with people from all walks of life — from start-up business to long-standing business owners. This is where I want to invest the time and energy.

“This, of course, will rely on direct and informal feedback from our members to ensure a shared vision is maintained which will shape our focus going forward.

“This will involve reassessing where we can make the biggest impact in our capacity to help build business capability, robust networks and support systems towards sustainable economic growth for all.

“I’m keen to reinvigorate social networking huddles, BA5s (Business After Fives), training workshops and support for local business.

“The focal point of our economic direction and decision-making should always be centred around people and the environment, I believe — a sustainable and inclusive business model that enables a holistic approach, thus empowering business success in an ever-changing technological and economic landscape.”

While the chamber might only be a small body locally, the Chamber of Commerce brand had a big profile and was well-renowned both nationally and globally.

“It is through this network that we can access expert resource and support.

“It is not just about me, it is not just about you, but it is about all of us together and what matters most for our people and the environment.”

The chamber management role is on a part-time basis, with Ms Bevan continuing in her other outside roles with Sport Gisborne Tairawhiti as regional play systems lead, and other youth work.

FOCUSED ON NEEDS OF THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY: Gisborne Chamber of Commerce manager Lena Bevan is looking forward to advocating for businesses here under a more streamlined service that is focused on the needs of our business community, and with more hands-on support from the chamber’s executive board. Picture by Yoko Houthuijzen