Research institute brings Wendy home

New general manager of the Western Research Institute Wendy Mason is glad to be back in the region where she was born and grew up. 					        Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

New general manager of the Western Research Institute Wendy Mason is glad to be back in the region where she was born and grew up. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

A WEEK into the new role of general manager at the Bathurst-based Western Research Institute (WRI), Wendy Mason has reacquainted herself with Dubbo, where as a youngster she enjoyed "big shops" in the company of family.

Wellington-born Ms Mason, who was raised on a family property between Wellington and Mudgee, is pinching herself at being back in the region she loves.

"It's a very good move for me I think and one where I am going to be able to apply... a lot of stuff that I've done," she said during a visit to Dubbo.

That includes being head of the Commonwealth Bank Foundation, the bank's philanthropic arm focused on financial literacy education.

As such she was responsible for a triennial budget of $50 million and working with research organisations such as Monash University and the Australian Centre for Educational Research.

During her time with the bank, Ms Mason designed its flagship StartSmart program for the benefit of 500,000 school children across Australia.

She also picked up the bank's CEO Award for Excellence and was nominated to represent the bank at the Garma Festival, a global event aimed at boosting indigenous opportunities and development.

The former primary school teacher, adult educator, community relations and marketing manager for a major private school, is seen by the WRI as having extensive management and business development experience, excellent networks and a substantial track record in stakeholder relations across government, financial and not-for-profit sectors.

Ms Mason's position was established as a result of a review of the charitable and not-for-profit WRI that has set her the task of advancing its 2016-2020 strategy.

"I didn't conduct that review, but the review has found that really the organisation's doing some fantastic work," Ms Mason said.

WRI calls itself a pre-eminent supplier of social and economic research as well as regional and business development planning services.

It seeks to support the development of rural and regional communities in Western NSW with information that it reports has helped secure funding for infrastructure and community development projects.

"Dubbo City Council used WRI when they were putting together a submission for the athletics field (DCL Park)," Ms Mason said.

In her first days on the job, Ms Mason has been introducing herself to past and potential clients of WRI.

On Wednesday morning she chatted with business and civic leaders at a Dubbo Chamber of Commerce breakfast.

"The organisation (WRI) has been around for a while but is wanting to make sure that it is well known by people in the region and that the work that it is doing is making a contribution to regional development," she said.

Ms Mason insists that her position is "regional" and she will not be tied to her desk.

"I'm living in Orange, working in Bathurst, my parents are still in Wellington," she said.

"I know this area well and looking forward to living and working here."


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