15 May 2014 · Absolute IT Events

Absolute IT hosted the second event for the year in the leadership breakfast series on the 14th May 2014 with guest speaker Dr Kevin Lavery, CEO of Wellington City Council.

Despite the wet Wellington weather we had a great turn out with guests having the opportunity to catch up with industry peers and gain useful insights into Councils plans for the development of Wellington and in particular the tech sector.

Kevin delivered a witty and insightful speech and provided some interesting insights into where he sees Wellington positioning itself as the destination of choice for events and investment.

Here’s a brief run-down on topics Kevin touched on:

Kevin began by taking us back to his early observations when he first took up his role in March 2013. At that time he found the economy was flat and there were high levels of unemployment in the Wellington region. Kevin stated that council are already seeing positive changes within the region, and have key goals for moving further forward. He firmly believes Wellington has a lot to offer, commenting specifically on the high quality of life the city offers, the vibrant atmosphere for start-up companies, and the population being the best educated and most tech savvy in New Zealand.

Wellington Council understand they need to ‘up their game’ to maximise the regions full potential and initiatives are in place for this is happen. They are confident there is sufficient money to fund this economic growth and in Kevins’ view our biggest challenge is not so much the economy or the government but ourselves; stating we need to have the confidence, conviction and back bone to move companies and the city forward.

Kevin then discussed the Council’s growth agenda and the eight big ideas which have been circulating for some time now in the media. This gave attendees a chance to have a more detailed insight into the development of these projects.

Turning Wellington into the place to be for jobs in the IT industry

Of relevance to the technology sector is the establishment of what will be known as a Tech Precinct – a subject dear to our own heart.  The idea is to build a Tech Precinct in the Cuba Quarter to inspire start- up tech companies, foster creativity, and help smaller companies mature and grow. It is important that the area has a vibrant feel and creates an environment in which to companies can collaborate and thrive. The development will likely be housed in area of Willis St, Blair St, Allan Street, Jessie Street, and Cuba St. The growth and development of the technology industry is a huge part of transforming both Wellington and the local economy. The Council wants Wellington to be known as the ‘place to be’ for developments and start-ups in the IT industry.

Kevin mentioned the thriving digital film business in Wellington. One focus is to develop the talents of Kiwis and local residents to work in the industry and expand its critical mass and success. He explained he wanted the tertiary sector to play a key part, by educating and motivating students to a world class standard and then feeding this capability back in to the tech industry, helping to fuel new businesses.

Developing the Capital’s infrastructure

Kevin then covered Councils’ possible plans for the development of Wellington’s infrastructure. He is very keen on establishing a world class conference centre to cement Wellington’s position as a player in this space both nationally and globally.  Kevin illustrated Wellington as a vibrant city with much to offer; restaurants, bars and a well-developed harbour, making it a perfect setting for events.  Within a couple of years of the proposed conference centre operating there would be enough capital generated to help fund other projects in the region.

He then reiterated Councils desire to extend the airport runway. This expansion has been much debated with many balking at the estimated $350m cost.   The Council is confident this project can be funded with help from the government and Kevin explained it is vital council help government understand the benefits for both Wellington and the wider country. Discussions of the airport tied perfectly into further development of public transport in Wellington and would include a possible dual carriage way to the airport if the expansion development goes ahead.

Finally Kevin commented on the tremendous job New Zealand has done to promote the country as a great place to be outdoors with beautiful surroundings and a variety of adventure tourism.  While New Zealand has the largest economic reliance on its agricultural sector of any nation in the developed world he stressed there is still a need to focus on the cities.  He believes the development of the cities is just as important and that New Zealand can be be known for both natural landscapes and thriving cities.

Guests at the breakfast before the speech

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Kevin Lavery during speech

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Director Tina Ng (Right) and Client Solutions Manager Wendy Alexander with Kevin Lavery

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