Acting Chief Executive appointed

Whanganui & Partners wishes CE Hannah Middleton well as she embarks on parental leave

We are pleased to announce the appointment of Jonathan Sykes as Acting Chief Executive as CE Hannah Middleton embarks on parental leave to welcome her second child.

Middleton has been Chief Executive of the Economic Development Agency since early 2021, and this is her second time handing the reigns over to Sykes to cover a short period of parental leave. Middleton is set to begin her leave on March 13 and will resume her CE duties on September 1.

Middleton said Sykes, who holds the position of Strategic Lead – Marketing, had the full support of Whanganui & Partners and its board and it was reassuring to be able to step away with such high confidence.

“We are fortunate to have such a competent and well-respected team member fill the Acting CE role. Jonathan is incredibly capable and will be able to maintain continuity for our team and stakeholders.

“It’s great for me too, as I enjoy this time with my growing family, to know that all of our good mahi will continue and that I will step back into the role with confidence and ease.”

Middleton said Sykes had previously demonstrated his ability in leadership while heading the agency during a period of key changes and progress, developing new plans and programmes over the six-month period.

“This is a familiar transition for us and I know we are able to maintain communication, and work together so that all of our projects continue to progress and our responsibilities are met without complications.”

Sykes said he was looking forward to the challenge of returning to the Acting CE role.

“It’s gratifying to be working in an agency where I can undertake a role such as this, building on my experience as the marketing lead and time as CE, and expanding my perspective and oversight of our work.

“Hannah and I have already established a good framework for this transition, and we are both confident that we can continue good communication and support each other effectively,” he said.

He said his previous stint as Acting CE was an advantage but he looked forward to the chance to face new challenges. “We need to be ambitious and aspirational, to leverage Whanganui’s advantages and take on opportunities as they arise. There is a lot of potential in this place and we see that every day in our interactions with the community”

Sykes said during Middleton’s previous leave period she had shown she was exceptionally good at keeping track of Whanganui & Partners’ progress and plans.

“We know from experience that Hannah is keen to pay close attention to the team’s work despite the demands and excitement a new baby brings. She and her whānau have our best wishes and we look forward to getting updates from her too.”

During Sykes’ term as Acting CE, Senior Communications Advisor Rebecca Black will take on the role of Acting Strategic Lead of Marketing, and Simone Grant will join the agency in the role of Marketing Executive.

Middleton said she was delighted to welcome Grant onboard. “Simone is a very well-experienced marketing professional and we feel very fortunate to have her join the team.”

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