Debbie Power has been named as the New Zealand Ministry of Social Development’s new chief executive.
When she takes up the five year posting on February 4, she will be leading 6900 staff and overseeing an annual budget of about NZ$25 billion.
Power is currently the statutory deputy state services commissioner and chief executive at the State Services Commission, having held those roles since August 2015.
She has led the commission through a complete change in the way it works, including embedding a new vision, mission, values, governance and leadership structures and the implementation of a new operating model. She was also accountable for supporting the commissioner with chief executive appointments, performance management and led work to restructure and simplify chief executive remuneration.
“She is a highly respected leader in the public service who has a real passion for and belief in the role of the Ministry of Social Development to deliver services that make a real difference in the lives of all New Zealanders,” said State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes in a statement.
“The chief executive of the Ministry of Social Development is a big and important role,” he added.
“Ms Power is a seasoned public servant and a proven leader. She is compassionate and determined and able to engage staff around a sense of service and purpose. It is a privilege leading a ministry that plays such an important role for New Zealanders, and I have no doubt her leadership will ensure that the ministry delivers accessible, fair, and transparent services.”
Power started her public service career in the 1980s as a frontline case manager at the then-Department of Social Welfare, now the Ministry of Social Development. She holds an executive masters in public administration from Victoria University of Wellington, and previously spent time at Job Centre Plus, part of the UK Department for Work and Pensions responsible for delivering working-age support services.
She is also a government-appointed member of the Diversity Works Board and has held senior roles in the Ministry of Social Development, including the deputy chief executive, service delivery and deputy chief executive, office of the chief executive.
Current chief executive Brendan Boyle’s term ends on 1 January.