26 March 2015

First Woman President for Southland Chamber of Commerce announced

Southland Chamber of Commerce Media Release

The Southland Chamber of Commerce has its first ever female president. An announcement was made at the Chamber’s AGM tonight that prominent local business woman Carla Forbes will step into the role of President, with the full support of the Board. Ms Forbes nomination was unopposed.

As a long standing member of the Chamber, including two years on the board and another one and a half years as Vice President, Ms Forbes will take the reins from Sean Woodward, who remains for one year as immediate past president.

Mr Woodward commented “I am delighted to be handing the reins to Carla. She brings a wealth of business expertise and a passion for promoting business activity in Southland. Succession planning is key to the vibrancy of any organisation, and Carla is the right person to drive the chamber forward.”

Ms Forbes is the owner and Creative Director of Southland’s leading marketing agency Market South. Southland Chamber of Commerce CEO Sarah Hannan describes her as “an experienced and invested business woman who is passionate about the region and fiercely committed to growing business in Southland.”

Ms Forbes’ ability and willingness to invest wholeheartedly in her passion to enhance the perception of the region was recognised in 2014 when she was selected as a finalist in the Local & Regional category of the Westpac National Women of Influence Awards. She was also the original Chair of Glass Elevator, a successful networking group for professional women of which she is now an active committee member.

Chief Executive of NZ Chambers of Commerce Michael Barnett cited that Ms Forbes is also one of the youngest Chamber presidents in the country.

“It’s always great to see enthusiastic and experienced young business people coming up the ranks and taking on our vital leadership roles,” Mr Barnett said.

Ms Forbes sees her new role as President as the ideal opportunity to continue the positive drive and progression the Chamber has been striving towards in recent years.

“The Chamber is playing a vital role in shaping a vibrant and progressive business community and helping raise visibility and create opportunities for Southland businesses. It’s been an exciting few years for us with lots of positive change and I look forward to helping create more opportunities for local businesses to become more productive, competitive and sustainable.”

Crowe Horwath Managing Principal Neil McAra was confirmed to the vacant elected board position and moves from Secretary to take the seat.

“I have operated as Secretary for the board for some time now and I’ve been constantly impressed by their appetite for continual improvement and their resolution to create and pursue all opportunities to support and grow business in Southland, so I’m really looking forward to stepping up,” Mr McAra said.

A new-comer to the board this year was Stabicraft CEO Paul Adams, announced as the board member to represent the Southland Manufacturers Trust.

‘The Southland Chamber of Commerce is a dynamic and forward focused organisation, it aligns well with my business values so I’m pleased to be a part of it and look forward to the challenges ahead,” Mr Adams said.

Reports at the AGM recognised that the financial year end to 30 September 2014 had been one of significant change and brought a number of challenges for the Chamber. Ms Hannan said it had been an action packed year, with the organisation moving premises, setting new strategic direction, modernising the brand and re-establishing their communication platform.

“It’s all been very positive, our key relationships inside and outside the region are strengthening and our network of supporters and partners is expanding. Membership numbers are stable and the feedback we are receiving from our members is extremely encouraging,” she said.

Mr Woodward noted the Connected Seminar Series as a major highlight of the Chambers extensive business event calendar. The series ended the year on a high with a social media seminar led by Facebook NZ and Vodafone NZ attracting more than 100 people in attendance. Following the success of the Connected Seminar Series Mr Woodward said more seminars are in the pipeline, this year with a focus on bringing new ideas into the region to facilitate business innovation.

“Our major strategic and operational goals for the year have been achieved with a focus on visibility, engagement and building toward being the most valued point of contact for business support and advocacy for local business. Together with the Board, I am looking forward to another positive and proactive year for the Chamber,” Ms Hannan said.


Further Information:

Southland Chamber of Commerce CEO Sarah Hannan

021 2444435