New Tourism Noosa CEO Steve McPharlin
New Tourism Noosa CEO Steve McPharlin

TN board fully backs new CEO despite critics

THE appointment of Tourism Noosa chair Steve McPharlin to the position of chief executive officer has met with many questions and demands for further explanation, despite industry support.

The ongoing controversy has been almost entirely about the process, not the suitability or popularity of the appointee.

It has been clarified Mr McPharlin was not part of the selection process that saw him land the important role in the continuing development and management of Noosa Shire's largest industry.

"The subcommittee had completed its final interviews and then asked Steve to excuse himself from the process,” a Tourism Noosa spokeswoman said.

"Steve did not apply for the role and was not aware of the board's interest in him performing the CEO role until after the selection committee asked him to excuse himself at the point of discussing him as a possible candidate.”

Tourism Noosa deputy and acting chair Elizabeth Reynolds said the board was very comfortable with its approach and process for the role of CEO.

"We appreciate the views and passion of the Noosa community in regard to the appointment of a new CEO for Tourism Noosa,” she said.

"The board is very comfortable with its approach and process for the role of CEO. We are all very excited by Mr McPharlin's appointment - he has demonstrated strategic and innovative vision, strong eco-sustainability passion, extensive industry experience and has an ability to connect with the community.”

Noosa News has been advised Mr McPharlin will step down from his current role at Mantra on October 19 and his occupancy of the Tourism Noosa CEO position will initially be for a 12-month period.

Support for Mr McPharlin's potential in the role has come from a wide field of Noosa people.

"Steve will bring with him an amazing professionalism, knowledge and understanding of what is required for tourism in the Noosa region and his leadership skills are second to none,” Noosa Surf Club manager Anton Mogg said.

Noosaville Business Association president Jim Lloyd congratulated him.

"As chairman (of Tourism Noosa) Steve has been supportive and encouraging of the Noosaville Business Association, its growth and development,” Mr Lloyd said.

"We look forward to strengthening this association in the future with Steve's role as CEO of Tourism Noosa.”

Critics, however, have asked questions about the potential loss of "new blood” as a result of appointing a CEO "in-house”.

"Is it true the new incumbent will only occupy the CEO's role for less than a year then take a sabbatical, (possibly) triggering a new search for a CEO?” former Tourism Noosa chair Michael Donovan asked (Noosa News has been advised nothing is confirmed about the timing of the sabbatical).

"When was the chairman's candidacy declared and did the board address what appears to be an evident breach of principles of good corporate governance? And what caused the Nominations Committee to suddenly move the chairman into pole position having presumably gained inside knowledge of the other candidates and their pitches?

"If these are valid questions, then, in my opinion, the process was flawed and gifted under an unfair advantage to the chairman.”

Mr Donovan declared he had spoken to a short-listed candidate for the role.

"In my view, (the candidate) would have brought fresh insights, creativity in marketing, outstanding digital knowledge and a huge wealth of regional, national and international experience in tourism marketing,” he said.

The Tourism Noosa spokeswoman would not disclose the perceived shortcomings of those short-listed for the position.

"As in any organisation, recruitment is a confidential process, as is discussion of applications,” she said.

"The board subcommittee could not find a candidate that addressed all of the criteria that they were searching for.”

Mr McPharlin has lived in Noosa with partner Danielle and their two children since 2008, working for the Mantra Group, and has been a Tourism Noosa director since 2010.

He has more than 25 years' experience in hospitality and tourism, including ownership of Noosa Boathouse, along with P&O Resorts, Best Western and Voyages Resorts.