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Andrea Jackson appointed Manawatū Rugby Unions first female C.E.O

Manawatū Rugby Union appoints first female chief executive

Andrea Jackson is the new Manawatū Rugby Union chief executive.

The Manawatū Rugby Union has become the first top-flight union to appoint a woman as its chief executive.

Andrea Jackson has been appointed as the union’s new chief executive and is likely to start in March, replacing Shannon Paku, who is finishing after three years in the role.

Jackson is the manager of community facilities and activities at the Masterton District Council and is a director on the Wairarapa Bush Rugby Union board.

Manawatū chairman Tim Myers said he was rapt to appoint someone of Jackson’s calibre, and it was unique because she was the first woman appointed as a chief executive of a Mitre 10 Cup union.

Of the second-tier Heartland unions, Cushla Tangaere-Manuel is the chief executive of East Coast and Bridget Belsham is the boss of Whanganui, but it is a first for the Mitre 10 Cup unions.

Myers said the appointment panel had looked for four themes when interviewing candidates: leadership, commercial, rugby and general management.

“[Jackson] was the standout in particular around the executive-level leadership basis. She comes to us with a proven track record of success at that level.

“We feel very strongly that it’s important for our union to have someone who can hit the ground running in that space.”

Her experience is what won her the job, Myers said.

Jackson has an open-ended contract and a set of performance indicators to meet.

There were 22 applicants for the role, including two from overseas, and five were shortlisted.

On the appointment panel were Myers, board members Sarah Vining and Terry Clare, Nathan Hopcroft from the Sport Manawatū board and New Zealand Rugby’s head of community rugby Steve Lancaster.

Myers said Jackson would relocate permanently to Manawatū, which was required for the job. It was something Paku hadn’t done with his family remaining in Wellington during his tenure.

Myers said Jackson was negotiating her exit from the council and hoped she would be in her role by the union’s annual meeting on March 11.

He said the union needed a deep level of engagement with its community.

“We’ve got one eye on the short term, but we’re mindful of what we’re trying to deliver for the next two-to-three years.

“You think about the challenges facing rugby and a lot of it does start in community. We want to replenish clubs and build club rugby.”

Jackson is likely to spend her first couple of months getting to know the community, including rugby union staff, sponsors and clubs.

New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson said Jackson’s skills and experience would add huge value to the game.

“We would also like to acknowledge the Manawatū Rugby Union for attracting someone of Andrea’s calibre to the role and we are all very much looking forward to working with her.”

New Manawatu Rugby Union chairman Tim Myers, left, is pleased with the appointment of new chief executive Andrea Jackson.