The Albany Chamber of Commerce and Industry is on the lookout for a new leader following the resignation of chief executive Lisa Smith. Ms Smith took over the role in November 2021 and led the chamber during a difficult time for business everywhere. She said it had been an exceptional 14 months and that tendering her resignation had not been an easy decision because it had been a privilege to deliver the chamber’s strategic plan. “I am pleased to have delivered a number of initiatives and who has increased the Great Southern business voice, improved cross-regional collaboration, and seen a return of previous members, position the chamber well to deliver on its newest strategic initiatives,” she said. “Although I am returning to continue my career in Perth, I intend to remain engaged and will always add my voice in support of improved regional representation across all areas.” Before moving to Albany for the role Ms Smith led a Perth-based consultancy that provided business coaching, workshops, entrepreneurial training and speciality learning experiences to businesses across WA. ACCI president Kerry Fry said Ms Smith had been a strong advocate for the region’s business community as it negotiated COVID-19 mandates, skilled labour shortages, minimum wage increases, great recognition for the region and better deals for tourism operators. “Lisa has been able to effectively lead the ACCI, raise the profile of the lower Great Southern region, and act in the best interest of our members and business community,” she said. “Amongst this, Lisa has also been able to successfully introduce additional networking opportunities for member and non-member businesses by expanding the reach of the chamber to help towards making a more connected and collaborative business community in the Great Southern. “The executive committee and team wishes Lisa all the best for her future endeavours and is grateful for her exemplary leadership and championing for small businesses during her tenure.” Executive board member Kristen Pyrz-Brown will take over as interim CEO from Ms Smith, who has yet to confirm an end date for the role and will spend time conducting a handover. Ms Pyrz-Brown said she put her hand up to help ensure a smooth transition for the chamber because Ms Smith had been “absolutely incredible in the role” and that it would be “a devastating loss”. “Through the discussion with the board I put myself forward as a solution because everyone else on the board has their own ingrained position within organisations,” she said. “Being one of the only ones with my own business, I have the flexibility to do so.” Ms Pyrz-Brown has been a member of the board since the middle of last year and runs Valeo Coaching — a business built around leadership coaching. She said the similar business background that she and Ms Smith had would lead to her approaching the interim role in a similar way. “Lisa and I are very similar and I think we are connected on quite few different levels,” she said. “Obviously with both of us having a coaching background, it really helps in those conciliatory, win-win situations because we’re always looking to build relationships.” A formal process for the recruitment of a new CEO will start shortly.