A Leader Who Gets Things Done
Rebecca Casson is one of only two people to have held the reigns at the Committee for Geelong since the regional lobbying group was formed in 2001. Ms Casson took up the role of chief executive officer in January 2013, after the departure of founding executive director, Peter Dorling.
Last week, the Committee announced that Rebecca Casson had tendered her resignation, and would soon take up the role as the first CEO of the Master Builders Association of Victoria. Over the past six years, she has proven herself to be a woman who got things done, so it didn't come as a great surprise that she had been tempted away. She will be the first woman to take up the top job at the Master Builders, and it's safe to assume she will run a transformative agenda in the construction peak body as well.
A lot has changed in this city since 2001, and it’s been a change driven by much more than population growth. We have seen a fundamental shift in the economic base of the city. In 2001, that base was manufacturing, and Ford, Target, Alcoa and Shell dominated the major employment space. The move to a services economy, led by major investments in health and education, didn’t just happen. The fact that Geelong’s local economy didn’t tank in the wake of the Ford, Alcoa and Target closures wasn’t just a lucky coincidence. There were years of lobbying, planning and pushing for new deals that saw future-proofing investment flood into the city.
Since 2013, we have seen the TAC, WorkSafe and NDIA all headquartered in Geelong, we have seen Deakin expand and grow at an extraordinary rate. We have seen new business, and the startup space burst into activity and we have seen the core of our economy, the small business sector, shift and adapt to the changing digital market tides.
None of this is the work of one person or one organisation or one committee. It was the work of many voices, that were most effective when telling the same story and selling the same message. And, at times, it was work that was done without direction from what should be the biggest voice in town, the City of Greater Geelong Council.
In her time as CEO of the Committee for Geelong, Ms Casson drove the push for Geelong to be recognised as a second city, having seen first-hand the power of that status overseas. The ‘Winning from Second’ work will define her tenure.
Seventeen years on from the formation of the Committee of Geelong by Frank Costa, we are a city with plenty of influence, at times too much influence and not enough cohesion. Call it ‘Winning from Second’, call it a regional plan or strategic direction or whatever you want, what we really need now and in the years ahead, is a clear voice, advocating for the projects and funding that will shape the city’s future. We need people who can not only get things done, but who can work with all the other people who can get things done so all those plans and lobbying efforts don’t damage each other.
So, no pressure then, on Ms Casson’s successor …