‘Business as usual’ at ACCI

By Chris Thomson | posted on October 25, 2018

ALBANY’S chamber of commerce has had four CEOs in 10 months, but is operating on a “business as usual” basis according to the group’s President and its newly appointed interim CEO.

Last week, Graham Foster, who became the chamber’s interim CEO on July 25, resigned from the position.

His departure after less than three months in the job follows the exit of retail journeyman Mark Forrest, who lasted six weeks after relocating from Perth.

The job had been advertised twice, with initial applicants told not to reapply for the position vacated in January by Russ Clark.

Now, onetime tyre retailer Michael Clark has been appointed interim CEO.

Asked if he believed the position to be a poisoned chalice, Mr Clark told The Weekender “no”.

“The reasons for everyone else leaving is for different reasons,” he said.

“I find the position quite a good position; it’s something I take with great respect.

“I very much appreciate the position the board has put me in and I look forward to working in it.”

Mr Clark said Mr Foster had been on a four-month contract and left four weeks early.

“It’s business as usual, nothing’s changed in here at the Chamber,” he said.

“I’m stoked to be here.

“I’m really looking forward to the role.”

Chamber President Caroline Hayes said Russ Clark had been with the Chamber for five years and left at the end of his contract.

She said Mr Foster had departed on amicable terms after reducing his hours to part-time and deciding to re-enter retirement.

“I’d like the members to understand that it’s business as usual,” she said.

“Michael Clark has been very instrumental in the operations of the business for many months now.”

Asked if his initial appointment had resulted from a competitive selection process, Ms Hayes said: “No, Michael was employed only on a contract basis to help us out, so it was not a position that we intended to be permanent but it has actually turned into a great position.

“He’s sunk his teeth into this operation.”

Chamber Board member Russell Hare said Mr Foster’s role was only ever going to be temporary, and the committee was “100 per cent” behind getting some stability back to the CEO position.

“The reason we haven’t rushed out and advertised straight away for another CEO is we believe we need to go through a planning process and do some things on the Board before we advertise and appoint a CEO again,” he said.

“We recognise it is not a good look for the Chamber, but we don’t think it’s due to any lack of thorough process.

“It is not a good circumstance and we recognise that we’re looking to get that stability, and we will in time once we find the right person to fill that job.”

Asked if the turnover in the CEO position was a good look for the Chamber, Lyn Welsh, who retired from the Board this year, said: “As a private citizen or a person interested in what’s happening in Albany, I don’t think so, no.”

Disclosure: The Weekender is a member and creditor of the Chamber. A non-editorial staff member is on the ACCI board.

Image: Interim Chamber CEO Michael Clark. Photo: Chris Thomson