After eight years at the helm of one of Waikato's biggest businesses, Mike Pohio is ready to move on to other challenges.

The chief executive of Waikato-Tainui's commercial development arm, Tainui Group Holdings, will walk out of the organisation's Bryce St office for the final time today - at least in his current role.

Pohio says he has three months set aside to start "talking to people" (and complete a two-month around the world trip) while he works out his next move. That will "probably" involve governance, he says.

As Pohio sees it, he is eight years away from 65, and it is time to pull together "a package of really meaningful things where you can apply your experience" and which will keep him challenged until then. However, he is keeping quiet on exactly what work opportunities have come his way, or which he is keeping an eye on, until the details are worked out. 

Whatever he does, it will also "probably" involve things Maori, he says. First and foremost there will be "some satisfying of that appetite" to learn Te Reo, a goal he was unable to complete thanks to long hours over the last eight years in his current role. 

As for his advice on handing the business over to another chief executive after almost a decade at the helm - Pohio says it will hinge around managing current projects well, and finding new long-term challenges for the iwi organisation.

Tainui Group Holdings - with Pohio at the helm- had a $3.3b inland port project approved by New Zealand's Environmental Protection Authority last year, and is now in the process of pulling together resource consent applications. It's what Pohio describes as "the end of the beginning" and the perfect time for someone else to take over the reigns.

Pohio was also instrumental in steering the organisation into the first steps of its new diversification strategy, buying into Waikato Milking Systems, Go Bus, and other ventures that took the group away from a pure focus on land. Again, Pohio says now is the right time for someone else with fresh vision to see the strategy through to its full potential. 

However, he has also learned a few things that the wider Waikato business community could benefit from, he says.

"One of the greatest benefits [of being involved at Tainui Group Holdings] has been to really think in a longer-term way," he says. 

"It would be great if the wider community and the wider business community could genuinely be in those discussions."

Chris Joblin has been appointed acting chief executive of Tainui Group Holdings while the search for a replacement is undertaken.


- Waikato Times


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