Community Trust appoints its CEO

DATE 8 July 2017     AUTHOR Gisborne Herald

Eastland Group business development general manager Gavin Murphy named as Eastland Community Trust’s first chief executive.


Following an extensive search, Eastland Group business development general manager Gavin Murphy has been named as Eastland Community Trust’s first chief executive.

ECT chairman Michael Muir said the trust was “delighted” to be able to appoint Mr Murphy to the post, after an extensive interview process.

“Gavin is well qualified to manage the big job of tackling the region’s economic development challenges, while continuing the trust’s work in supporting the wider community.

“He is passionate about the community and recognises the importance of economic development, and the fact that it is the lynchpin of social and health improvements.”

The search for a chief executive to lead the “blended” ECT and Activate Tairawhiti economic development teams, which now also includes a regional tourism organisation role, started in May and attracted applications from a high-class field of applicants from New Zealand and the US.

Mr Muir said the search was timed to follow on from the release of the Tairawhiti Regional Economic Action Plan earlier this year.

“Gavin is familiar with these challenges and will provide inspirational and transformational leadership for the region.”

“An early task will be to work with trustees to bring together the strategies, plans and projects of the two agencies.

Defining those capabilities and structures required to deliver on the new vision and strategic priorities, working closely with our partner Gisborne District Council will be critical to ensure we are on the same page in delivering best-for-region outcomes.”

Mr Muir said the trust’s philanthropic work, through its grant distribution schemes, would continue. This year $10 million would be distributed

Mr Murphy has been employed by Eastland Group since 2004, and has extensive experience in economic development, regional investment and major infrastructure projects, including in the energy sector.

His previous work experience included a short stint building a transmission line in the mountains of Indonesia and four years managing contracts at the London end of the Channel Tunnel link between Britain and France. He was also involved in a multimillion-dollar redevelopment of London’s King Cross train and tube station.

The University of Auckland graduate was more recently involved in negotiating Eastland Network’s $12.5m acquisition of the former Transpower transmission lines that connect Gisborne to the national grid and developing the Eastland Group’s energy strategy that included the group’s shareholding in the Flick Electric Company.

He was excited and humbled to have been given such a visionary role for the region, he said.

“I feel pretty privileged. I’m very excited and ready to go.”

Mr Murphy is a former president of Gisborne Chamber of Commerce and was involved in compiling the Tairawhiti Regional Economic Action Plan released in February. He was responsible for initiating contact and helping secure an agreement to bring US-New Zealand aerospace company Rocket Lab to Mahia.

He has also been heavily involved in Eastland Group’s electric vehicle recharging station plans.

He expects to start the role officially in August and, while he has some plans in mind, first and foremost he wants to consult across the wider community to find out their thoughts.

“I will also work with the current teams to understand their challenges and the opportunities they see, as well as get out and talk to the community on their views.

“I came to Gisborne 13 years ago and my family and I were welcomed with open arms. I’m really excited to be given a fantastic opportunity to provide some leadership to bring a number of organisations closer together, as payback for the welcome the community gave me 13 years ago.”

Mr Murphy said his approach to the tourism portfolio would be to treat it like a business.

“That means to start from the market end, from the consumer perspective and work from there. I think one of the real opportunities around the centralisation of the region’s tourism functions is to make sure it is market-led, that success is measured on market share and that it is resourced accordingly too.”

There would also be a need to lever off the knowledge of the region’s tourism operators, he said.

Activate Tairawhiti is jointly-funded by the ECT and the council, and GDC will remain a major partner.

Council chief executive Nedine Thatcher Swann said the appointment was a positive outcome.

“Having someone like Gavin who really understands the business, our community’s challenges and opportunities, but most important the need to work collaboratively, is fantastic.

“I am very much looking forward to working alongside Gavin in his new capacity as CEO of ECT.”

Gisborne Deputy Mayor Rehette Stoltz said councillors were excited that a “very talented local” had been chosen for this position.

“Gavin knows our region’s strengths and challenges and we look forward to working closely with him and his team to take the Gisborne region from good to great.”

Eastland Group chief executive Matt Todd said the appointment was unquestionably the right one.

“The newly-formed position of chief executive of Eastland Community Trust is a hugely important role for the region.

It’s one that requires a person with a unique combination of proven business expertise, strategic vision and local knowledge.

“Gavin Murphy is, unquestionably, that person”.

He had made a significant contribution to the commercial success of Eastland Group over the past 13 years.

“On a personal level, we will all miss him. However, since ECT is our sole shareholder, Gavin will still be part of our extended family.”