The new WCC CEO

December 21st, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Katie Chapman at Dom Post reports:

An Englishman with a reputation for cost-cutting has been picked as chief executive of Wellington City Council, ousting long-term incumbent Garry Poole.

In a closed-door meeting on Wednesday night, councillors spent three hours debating the appointment of Kevin Lavery, who will receive a salary of $420,000. Councillors interviewed four people for the position on Monday, after deciding in August to advertise the position.

Mr Poole applied for the job but The Dominion Post understand he lost out in a 9-6 vote to Dr Lavery, chief executive of Cornwall Council in southwest England.

In that role, which he has held for four years, Dr Lavery has been responsible for a £1 billion (NZ$1.94b) budget, and has driven a controversial proposal to outsource shared council services, including information technology, call centres and procurement in an effort to cut costs. In 2010, his pay package was worth £245,342 (NZ$476,732), and a newspaper investigation found that Cornwall Council had the highest staff credit card bill in Britain.

A reputation for cost cutting sounds good to me as a ratepayer.

Mr Poole announced the decision in a statement to staff yesterday: “As you can appreciate, it is a decision that for me is a significant disappointment. I am enormously proud of Wellington and what we have done to help it build an international reputation as a remarkable place to live, work, visit and play.”

I thought Poole had been an effective CEO. It seems one of those situations where Council would have been happy to keep him on, but thought someone else was a stronger candidate. This is one of the benefits of fixed term contracts.

Tags:

34 Responses to “The new WCC CEO”

  1. jims_whare (398 comments) says:

    So the CEO of the Wellington Council gets paid almost as much as the PM?

    I don’t care whether the Council has to pay international rates for a CEO but this is ridiculous.

    Obviously Local Government is still living in lala land when it comes to the diligent spending of tax payers $$$.

    I mean this is just Wellington City – no Porirua the Hutt or outlying suburbs – simply one fairly compact city council.

    What would he do all day apart from twiddling his thumbs and wondering how much he can stiff the CBD for rates?

    Completely out of proportion to his usefulness – and I’m guessing when you add up all the tinpot councils around NZ they all pay the same?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  2. anonymouse (695 comments) says:

    The elected members of the WCC are already fairly well split on a left right divide, adding a CEO with this background is very likely to further cement these divisions and add to the ineffectiveness of the council ……
    Or maybe Celia was just desperate to employ someone with a pommy accent :)

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  3. voice of reason (491 comments) says:

    Another bloody pom – FFS

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  4. Chris2 (756 comments) says:

    Of course the cost of employing Lavery will be much much more than just his salary.

    For instance, his relocation expenses from the UK will be significant, especially if he has a family, and will his contract be like the former Telecom’s CEO whose frequent trips back to the UK where part of his package?

    And anyway, how does the Council manage to get him a work visa when Immigration policy only allows for a foreigner to be hire if there is no one in NZ able to do the job. How does the Council get around that one when other employers can”t?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  5. joana (1,983 comments) says:

    How did the min of ed get around it? How did the min of social dev get around it? How long will this codge last? A year , nine months??

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  6. alwyn (380 comments) says:

    anonymouse @10.21am
    If he has a reputation as a cost-cutter I can’t possibly imagine that our mayor would have voted for him.
    He might think the spending $10,000 on painting a few blue lines on the road, supposedly to tell us where a tsunami might reach, isn’t really a good way to spend rate-payers money.
    Similarly spending tens of millions of ratepayers money on the Sanctuary might lead him to suggest that it would never be repaid.
    Possibly spending, I think, $50,000 on investigating some clowns ideas on how to fix the traffic flows around the Basin when the gentleman concerned won’t even tell us what they are might be a waste of money.
    Possibly $20,000 for solar panels on the council offices, when there only real purpose seems to be to power a sign saying how much power the panels are generating seems a little silly.
    Perhaps he might also say the $1,100,000 on giving councillors the chance to chat with Peter Jackson is just a trifle extravagent.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  7. peterwn (3,163 comments) says:

    I have been trying to get my head round this. By law Council CEO’s are appointed for 5 year terms and have no redress in the way of redundancy if not reappointed (prior to that some Town Clerks – helped by a small but effective union, had dug themselves in so thoroughly that they were impossible to budge). Councils need to go theough at least a nominal advertising and selection process which is what WCC effectively did the previous two times, but this time the Council was quite ‘serious’ about it by asking for an international search. Presumably some councillors must have considered Gary the incumbent past his ‘best by’ date and thought it was time for a change. 15 years is a very long time to hold such a position. At this point most incumbents, once the writing is on the wall, would plan a dignified exit. Possibly Gary thought he had sufficient support from councillors the apply one more time.

    I am suspicious of appointments from overseas. An internal applicant (eg Derek Fry if he applied) would be known warts and all and tends to be handicapped because of this. With a NZ applicant some independent checking and assessment is possible. With an overseas applicant, the applicant has almost complete control of the situation – can get away with portraying him or herself as he or che chooses, can fudge rough spots on a CV and can select favourable referees. The applicant can paint a favourable picture of performance in current position, describe all the efficiency changes made, all the ‘key performance indicators’ fulfilled, but does not mention he or she is jumping ship before the sky falls. I am not saying this applies to the present appointee, but various employers (eg Maori TV and NZQA) have appointed some real ex-overseas duds.

    The overseas appointee prior to Gary’s appointment lasted a bit less than five years.

    All things equal, I would give the new overseas appointee a less than 50/50 chance of having a second five year term. I hope I am proved wrong.

    On a broader front I do wonder whether international candidates are in aggregate so significant superior over NZ candidates. Their appointment puts significant upward pressure on top level pay rates much to the dismay of an egaliterian society. Could councils or government get a NZ candidate who is 90% effective as the best overseas candidate but only need to pay 60%? However the State Services Commissioner seems to be struggling to fill CEO vacancies which seems to suggest that there are issues with motivation, competence, training facilities, employee development, etc with Kiwis and their employers. Possibly CEO’s and managers do not want to train people who then may be a threat to their jobs.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  8. voice of reason (491 comments) says:

    The Wgtn council have just finished a restructure – not sure exactly of the numbers, but as I recall a whole layer of middle managers were made redundant or scheduled to be. Costs were already beng cut so this new seagull will no doubt claim these savings later.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  9. Viking2 (11,132 comments) says:

    Um look at his track record of employment. You don’t stay just a year in a couple of jobs for no reason.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  10. tvb (4,207 comments) says:

    This is interesting appointment. I see a major restructuring post election with much rationalisation and redundancies. I hope this will signal a trend for the future on local government which has been bloated for years and years. It has been easy to just wack it on the rates rather than make some hard decisions. I see much change ahead for Wellington.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  11. Paulus (2,502 comments) says:

    The Public Service and other Unions will not like another Pom into a top job.
    They and the Teacher dominated Education Department got rid of one, and another is employed.
    He will be culturally insensitive, being a Pom.
    Watch the knives being sharpened before he starts, but Celia is a Pom too, but too Greenpeace – Annette King can beat that at the next election.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  12. publicwatchdog (2,107 comments) says:

    Is this new Wellington City council CEO going to help cut out the consultants and private contractors dependent on ‘corporate welfare’?

    ie: Those who have contracts which have not proven to be cost-effective for the public majority of citizens and ratepayers, as a result of a cost-benefit analysis?

    Penny Bright
    ‘Anti-corruption campaigner’

    http://www.dodgyjohnhasgone.com

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  13. RRM (9,459 comments) says:

    Fuck off Penny, YOU depend on corporate welfare and anonymous donations every bit as much as the corrupt trougher politicians you waste your life complaining about in passive-aggressive “open letters” that nobody reads.

    Get a haircut.

    Get a real job.

    Merry Christmas.

    [PS: how's it going with Occupy Auckland? have they come to their senses and bowed to your rule yet? :-P ]

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  14. backster (2,079 comments) says:

    It looks like it’s going to be another head to head Wellington-Auckland encounter, the All England Champion versus our Lennie Brown to rack up the most on the Council Credit Card.

    He doesn’t need to know anything about curbing council expenditure that can be fixed by raising rates and borrowing but it is essential that he has a good knowledge of Te Reo and the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  15. Left Right and Centre (2,821 comments) says:

    RRM: Ever wondered what the offspring of your Penpal and Ken Ring would be like? I’d pay to meet that kid. Great post. You can’t get through concrete with a feather but you *give it to her*.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  16. Mary Rose (393 comments) says:

    This Kevin Lavery?
    Who apparently said THREE years ago, of his job in Cornwall:
    KL: What we need here is stability, continuity and focus. And a team, at political and officer level, that is like a dog after a bone. We’ve had too much change in recent years. And I’ve said to the Council, it will take 5-7 years to turn this around into a really top, top council that’s going places. It’s that sort of project and I want to be part of that for the whole period.”

    http://www.businesscornwall.co.uk/latest-news/face-to-face-with-cornwall-council-chief-executive-kevin-lavery-123

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  17. Left Right and Centre (2,821 comments) says:

    reply to jims-whare up the top:

    And the relevance of comparing anyone else’s income to the prime minister’s salary is…. what exactly?

    The PM is paid to do things like pretend to be drunk and fully retarded IHC style trying to do the ‘Gangnam style moves’ on a morning zoo radio show, in a cunning ploy to appeal to the peasant classes, performing a dance that all ready resembles someone smarting from having just been drilled at 2 200RPM by a horny zebra.

    While a CEO actually does things and can make a huge difference one way or the other for a city. They’re actually in charge of stuff and do things. Don’t make me use all the actual serious jargon I’ve run out of coffee.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  18. mikenmild (10,732 comments) says:

    Good comments above from peterwn. There are high risks in appointing unknowns from overseas. I too wonder why we don’t seem to have high-quality locals filling most of the senior local and central government roles. I’m guessing that too many of our candidates have spent too much time learning about ‘leadership’ and other fashionable concepts without actually doing anything.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  19. Elaycee (4,301 comments) says:

    @RRM (11.26am)

    That was beautiful, RRM. Truly beautiful…. :D

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  20. Chris2 (756 comments) says:

    The Council has imported a CEO from England before.

    Who remembers Angela Griffin in the mid 90′s?

    Whatever happened to her, and why will this one be any better?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  21. peterwn (3,163 comments) says:

    ‘voice of reason’ – I suspect the incumbent knew things were shaky and did a ‘last ditch’ re-organisation to try and gain some firmer ground. The new CEO will re-organise yet again as he will want to be able to have confidence in his ‘direct reports’ and leave his mark. One have to feel sorry for those senior managers – on the other hand they get good pay and are highly employable people.

    publicwatchdog – he worked for Serco once. Seems he will have a firm ‘contracting out’ stance.

    It does not seem like a ‘left wing’ driven appointment – seems a majority of councillors, while appreciating that Gary has driven hard for efficiencies, consider that a change at the top with a change of outlook would facilitater even further efficiencies.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  22. Viking2 (11,132 comments) says:

    Just like our Local IRD branch. Fire 80 or so a few months back. Now rehiring another 65.

    Builders happy.

    Hopeless bastards all round these CEO’s.
    and don’t we have a pom in charge of Treasury at the moment?

    Just add all this to Mfat and Maf and so it goes on.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  23. voice of reason (491 comments) says:

    peterwn (1,882) Says:
    December 21st, 2012 at 12:46 pm
    ‘voice of reason’ – I suspect the incumbent knew things were shaky and did a ‘last ditch’ re-organisation to try and gain some firmer ground”

    Peterwn – I think the truth is probably closer to the idea that Wade-Brown couldn’t cope with or control Poole as she wished

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  24. Rex Widerstrom (5,261 comments) says:

    Left Right and Centre asks:

    reply to jims-whare up the top:

    And the relevance of comparing anyone else’s income to the prime minister’s salary is…. what exactly?

    That both roles are ridiculously over-remunerated given we’re a small country (and Wellington’s a small city) and that if we stopped all this crap about “needing to offer internationally competitive salaries” and market the positions as a mix of challenge and lifestyle benefits, with reasonable but not ostentatious salaries. After all, wealthy immigrants are prepared to pay to get in; we don’t have to put $420,000 on the table to get them here, they bring that to invest in the country and then usually generate a few jobs for NZers as well.

    We need to stop thinking we’re so small and uninteresting that we need to pay ridiculous amounts so some foreigner will deign to give us the benefit of his or her superior (purely because it’s been gained elsewhere) experience. If we lowered the salaries for these top jobs we might actually attract people who want the job for the right reason – to contribute to NZ in the medium to long term.

    Same goes for politicians. Reduce the salaries and perks and the motivation changes to wanting to serve, as opposed to wanting to rule.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  25. voice of reason (491 comments) says:

    Rex -…that we need to pay ridiculous amounts so some foreigner will deign to give us the benefit of his or her superior (purely because it’s been gained elsewhere) experience…”

    Fuckin’ A – +100

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  26. Viking2 (11,132 comments) says:

    Yep Rex +1
    Most of these off shore CEO’s are a disaster waiting to happen, indeed most CEO’s seem to be this way these days.

    Learn all there is to know at some uni and then go forth to stuff businesses. Done that move to the next one and so it goes.

    Some of the best businesses in NZ have longterm family ties. Never have their heads above the radar. Get stuffed when some equity outfit or such comes along and interferes with money.

    Lots taking big haircuts in the last year or three, more to come.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  27. thor42 (917 comments) says:

    Two questions –
    1 – Why do our cities in NZ need a mayor AND a CEO?

    2 – Why does the CEO get such an exorbitant salary?

    We could save **tens of millions** of dollars a year by only having mayors, and by sacking the dozens of useless managers on the councils who also get paid ridiculous salaries.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  28. mikenmild (10,732 comments) says:

    Yes, of course. While we are at it, sack all the public service CEs and senior executives, because any Cabinet minister should be able to run a few ministries, etc, etc.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  29. Rex Widerstrom (5,261 comments) says:

    There needs to be a separation of governance and management, thor42. But there’s no reason to pay Mayors of small towns what would amount to a generous full time salary in many businesses. When he was Mayor of Whanganui Micael LHaws said he was getting $90,000; it’d be more now. That’s higher than the garbage man, the verge mower, the sewer plant operator, the receptionist and just about any employee who actually does a useful, full time job.

    Yet Mayors and councillors copped a substantial bonus from the same Authority in April this year. Len Brown gets $240,000, Celia Wade-Brown is on $161,600 and Bob Parker gets $171,200. Only in the latter case could it reasonably be deemed a full time job, and then only for the duration of the rebuild. The only reason it is a full time role is that they can’t resist sticking their beaks into everything. So a reduction in pay would not only save money, it’d lead to greater efficiencies.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  30. Johnboy (14,998 comments) says:

    Hope his tenure lasts a bit longer than that Pom that Hekia just got shot of! :)

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  31. Left Right and Centre (2,821 comments) says:

    reply to thor42:

    I’m going to take a crack at ya 1 – The mayor is just some noddy that the people elect to represent them. The CEO is overseeing the management of the local authority… how it’s run, decision-making, looking after assets, the CEO is the actual talent, the mayor represents, at least in theory, what voters want for their city. So in effect the mayor represents all the ratepayers and folks telling the CEO and the other cretins what they want to happen…. and then the CEO is the talent that actually turns the wishes of the people into action. The talent they’ve got is being better than everyone else who applied at what they do… or at least as perceived by your representatives. whoa. Is that patronising enough for ya or should I keep going? If I really push myself… I could go down at least one more level I reckon…. hehehehe

    So… a CEO is just another council employee in effect. Ok.. contractor. Whatever. Hired help. Do you question why ratepayers need a fucking gardener to make the roundabouts pretty? Same thing. CEO just manages the whole mess as best they can. They’re just trying to keep your council tidy and organised and on to it. Summary: Mayors are good at representing fellow citizens, CEOs are good at managing council operations and strategy?

    2- why not have a go at 2? Salaries are relative. Market forces. Exorbitant for a good CEO would probably be $M2. $300K a bargain. You get what you pay for except with Weetbix which is dirt cheap and yet damned good for ya. Badly run local authority can cost a lot of $$$$$ so it’s a good investment if you avoid bad costly decisions and poor planning/ management.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  32. Anthony (768 comments) says:

    I think there are plenty of more overpaid people than large city CEOs. Take lines company CEOs for example – plenty of those get $500k up to $1 million to run a simple, regulated monopoly business – providing power lines – how difficult would that be???

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  33. Left Right and Centre (2,821 comments) says:

    Hi Rex…

    Yes, NZ is a ‘small’ country compared to…. well, anywhere. But it’s long since ceased to be a small isolated country. The Boeing 747 took care of that 40+ years ago. So… NZ is a part of the global village. It’s easy to say not just ‘who can we get for the job from here’ but also ‘who can we get for the job from the around the globe’. It’s a simple ‘plane ride to open up your options to the global labour market.

    This country is small… but it’s a part of a large world. NZ in a way is a suburb of a global city.

    Economics 100 level Rex. Markets determine prices. It’s not a question of ‘that’s overpaid’ or ‘we’re not getting enough’. The market decides. That’s a capitalist market economy. If anything, I’d have thought that looking overseas would mean more candidates to choose from and be able to bargain everyone applying down in salary.

    What would you pay them Rex? Even if you paid them stuff all, you know what buddy? It wouldn’t make a damn bit of difference to anything cost wise . Not to your rates bill. Nothing. And you get what you pay for… so if you’re only prepared to pay below market rates for someone to be in charge of your local authority… you might just get a few horrible decisions that cost far more than you would’ve paid them in salary.

    If you think the job isn’t worth a tin of shit… then why don’t you try doing it yourself? See what they do and don’t have to be able to do. And when you’ve finished arse-rooting your local authority so it will never get off its knees ever again… I’ll repeat the same thing… the market decides how much it will cost you to attract someone who knows what they’re doing.

    Referring to a British candidate as ‘some foreigner’… ah yeah. The British are foreigners all right compared to NZders. Both countries speak English. NZ is a Commonwealth country with the Queen as head of state. Cripes… listen… just FUCK OFF!!! hehehehe. Good on ya Rex mate!! We all have one thing in common.. we all care about something.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  34. Mark (1,362 comments) says:

    It seems extraordinary that 15 councillors conducted the interview. WCC councillors are a rabble at the best of times.

    Whether Lavery is up to the job will be interesting to follow. He walks into a council with a weak Mayor and a councillors who appear have a genuine dislike of each other, add a local Iwi where the top dog is under investigation by the SFO and a regional council endeavouring to run a governance coup de tat. Excellent environment to bring in a slash and burn CEO :)

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.