Sutton resigns as CERA CEO

17/11/2014

Services Commissioner Iain Rennie  has confirmed Roger Sutton has chosen to resign as Chief Executive of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA).

The State Services Commission (SSC) has carried out an investigation into Mr Sutton’s conduct following a complaint from a CERA staff member.

“I expect high standards of Public Service chief executives and I take any complaints of inappropriate conduct very seriously,” Mr Rennie said.

“Every State servant must be able to work in a safe environment where they are treated with professionalism and respect,” he said.

The investigation report was provided to the Commissioner. However, Mr Sutton offered his resignation and this was accepted. While the report found that Mr Sutton’s conduct did not always meet the standard expected of public service leaders, it did not recommend dismissal. Although not called on to make any decision in relation to the report, the Commissioner is very likely to have followed the recommendation not to dismiss Mr Sutton.

“I respect Mr Sutton’s decision and acknowledge that this was a very difficult call to make for someone who is so committed to the Canterbury community,” Mr Rennie said.

“Mr Sutton has made an outstanding contribution to Canterbury as Chief Executive of CERA since 2011 and he leaves a strong legacy to his successor. His visible and engaged leadership during challenging times will be remembered well for many years”.

“Greater Christchurch’s recovery continues to be a major focus for the Public Service and Mr Sutton’s resignation will not affect the work to make that happen or the role of CERA,” he said.

“Throughout this process, SSC has worked with CERA to ensure the complainant has been supported and will receive any ongoing support required,” said Mr Rennie. “As his employer, we have also provided support to Mr Sutton,” Mr Rennie said.

To protect the privacy of the parties involved in this complaint and to respect undertakings of confidentiality, the investigation report and details of the exact nature of the complaint will not be released.

“I expect every government agency to have clear policies and processes to deal with complaints fairly and confidentially, and to provide appropriate support to complainants and those whose conduct is investigated,” Mr Rennie said.

Mr Sutton has decided that a natural point for a change of leadership for CERA is the date at which CERA transitions from being a Public Service department to being a departmental agency hosted by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Therefore, he will cease to be Chief Executive of CERA on 31 January 2015, the day before the departmental agency is formed.

Arrangements for an Acting Chief Executive for CERA from 1 February 2015 and the recruitment process for the ongoing Chief Executive of CERA will be advised shortly.

“This will no doubt be a difficult time for the people who work for CERA. SSC will be working closely with the senior leadership team to ensure CERA staff are well supported and can continue with the excellent work they are doing,” Mr Rennie said.

The Press reports:

. . . He had been under investigation for the last seven weeks after a complaint of sexual harassment from a senior staff member.

The allegation accused him of making inappropriate jokes and comments, and giving her an unwelcome hug. . .

That sort of behaviour complained of would have been common-place, and at least tolerated, in many workplaces not too long ago.

It isn’t now, although it’s not always black and white. What someone finds unwelcome and/or offensive might not concern someone else.

However, a CEO must lead by example and be above reproof.

 


Wool wonderful for rebuild

07/02/2013

The closure of Oamaru’s woollen mill is due to several factors, among which is the decline in demand for wool carpets.

Why it is so difficult to sell a product which is natural, renewable, sustainable and grown on free-range animals in a world which is increasingly demanding such things is beyond me.

But the Christchurch rebuild could provide an opportunity to put wool to the fore on floors again.

With over two million square metres of floorcoverings needed for the Christchurch rebuild, Federated Farmers believes strong wool should be given a leading role.

“If the Christchurch rebuild does not bring woollen floor coverings to the fore, then how can we expect the rest of the world to do the same?” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fire Chairperson.

“Late last year, we asked the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) what demand it projected for floorcoverings. The answer is a staggering two million square metres.

“That is enough to line every square centimetre of a country the size of Monaco.

“According to CERA, some 200,000m2 of floorcoverings are needed each quarter for the Christchurch rebuild. This demand exists right now and will last through to the third quarter of 2014, when demand will start to reduce.

“Farmers are not looking for a hand out but a fair go for wool that is grown and processed here. If you want to help your fellow Kiwi on the farm or working in wool processing, then specifying wool for the home or office is the way to go.

“It is a lot better environmentally than putting oil-based carpets down.

“We also asked CERA if it had any forecasts for insulation demand in the Christchurch rebuild, split by synthetic, glass fibre and natural fibre.

“Sadly, there does not seem to be and that makes me wonder if wool insulation is being overlooked.

“It is here that we need the Ministry for Primary Industries to work within government to get wool fully into the rebuild; both as a floor covering and as an insulation product.

“If there are blockages then Federated Farmers wants to know so we can help unblock them.

“Out of the tragedy of these earthquakes we have an opportunity to show just how versatile natural fibres like wool can be. Being a Cantabrian, I know Christchurch will become one of the most dynamic and progressive cities on earth.

“That is why we are so keen to get Kiwi wool well inside it,” Mrs Maxwell concluded.

More than two million square metres of floorcoverings  would use a lot of wool.

There’s an opportunity here that must be pursued because, as Mrs Maxwell says, if we don’t use wool we can hardly expect the rest of the world to.


Chch rebuild gets welcome boost

19/04/2012

The Christchurch rebuild got a welcome boost yesterday with Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee’s announcement of a new business unit inside the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) to focus on rebuilding the CBD.

“The Christchurch Central Development Unit will provide clear leadership for the rebuild of the city and work in a positive partnership with Christchurch City Council, which remains the consenting authority,” Mr Brownlee said.

The unit will be led by Warwick Isaacs, who is presently CERA’s operations manager responsible for CBD access, building deconstruction, and the Cashel Mall restart. “This is a great day for Canterbury as it’s another tangible milestone in the recovery process,” Mr Brownlee said.

“It marks a shift in focus from demolition to building the new, vibrant, distinctive and green central city the people of Christchurch told their council they wanted.” . . .

. . .

The new unit’s first task will be preparation of a blueprint for the implementation of the Central City Plan inside the next 100 days. The blueprint will give property owners, developers and business sectors a lead on how the city will look and how they can be involved.

“This blueprint will be vital to achieving a coherent roll-out of a number of anchor projects such as public buildings and strategic city blocks, and will provide important guidance to the market.

“It will also identify how to streamline consents and look at what, if any, land amalgamation is required to support anchor projects and developments.

“An example of an important anchor project is the city’s new convention centre. Delivering certainty about that project will begin the process of reviving the city’s hospitality and tourism sector.

“Hotel developments are unlikely to proceed until the location of the convention centre is resolved.

“Reviving the central city’s hospitality and tourism sector will attract other businesses in and encourage service sector, retail and hospitality development.

“The blueprint will deliver the sort of market intelligence the commercial property and business sectors need to invest with confidence. This is all about getting momentum in the rebuild,” Mr Brownlee said.

The news has been welcomed by the Property Council, business leaders and the Insurance Council.

The assurance that consents will be processed within 14 days is especially welcome.

Prominent businessman Bruce Irvine, chairman of Christchurch City Holdings, the investment arm of the Christchurch City Council, said what was needed was an organisation that had more powers than councils did and that was what Cera had.

“It will enable a more effective execution of the plan that the council has come up with. I’m very supportive.”

The unit would consist of up to 25 staff, with some seconded from the council and Environment Canterbury. The team would identify the most important projects to “pave the way forward”.

The unit would also determine how to streamline the consents process with an aim of processing all resource consents within 14 days. It would attract overseas investment, he said. “Private sector capital is very important, because that’s the majority of the money that will be spent inside the central city.”

If those of us outside the city have been thinking that it’s time for action, people in Christchurch must have been feeling even more frustrated.

Yesterday’s announcement is a much-needed sign of progress.

Dare we hope that the determination on how to streamline the consent process might be something  from which other councils could learn?

The Minister’s full speech is here.


Sutton right man for big job

13/05/2011

The appointment of Roger Sutton as the chief executive of Cera,  the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, is an inspired one.

The Press says:

Roger Sutton calls himself a “big picture guy”, but admits his new role heading the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) is going to require a wider lens.

As chief executive of Christchurch lines company Orion for the past eight years, Sutton has built a reputation as an approachable, communicative, analytical, creative and quirky business leader. . .

. . . In 2003, he beat 38 other applicants to the chief executive job.

He has made it his own through a tumultuous time in the energy industry.

Sutton said he relished the cross-over of engineering into wider society – economics, environment and regulation – and saw an opportunity to take those interests by applying to lead Cera.

“I didn’t initially apply but a lot of people talked to me about the role and suggested it would be a good thing if I applied, so in the end I did, so here I am,” he said.

He has taken a significant cut in salary to take the job. On Checkpoint last night he said he’d be dropping about $200,000.

That is a considerable financial sacrifice which shows his commitment to his city and its recovery.

It is a very big job and the wide approval across the political spectrum shows he is the right man for it.


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