Callaghan Innovation CEO resigns

Callaghan Innovation chief executive Mary Quin has resigned from the Crown research and development agency after three years in the role.

In a statement, Callaghan deputy chairman Robin Hapi says the board has thanked Dr Quin for her contribution.

“As the inaugural chief executive, Mary provided the leadership and vision the organisation needed through its start-up phase and has established an enduring foundation for its future,” Mr Hapi says.

Dr Quin says this is the “ideal transition point” for new leadership and will give her flexibility to pursue other professional and personal interests locally and overseas.

She was recently appointed to the board of Westpac.

A Callaghan spokesman says the agency will not conduct a strategic review following Dr Quin's resignation, as was done when New Zealand Venture Investment Fund chief executive Franceska Banga resigned and said the organisation needed a new direction.

Dr Quin, 62, returned from 37 years out of New Zealand to lead Callaghan Innovation after having spent most of her life in corporate America.

She achieved worldwide fame and wrote a book about her experience being kidnapped by terrorists while travelling in Yemen. While writing the book she moved to Alaska where she started a small business and then served as chief executive of NMS, a services firm half-owned by native Alaskans servicing remote oil fields and other Arctic activities.

When interviewed after first taking up the Callaghan role, Quin told BusinessDesk that the role seemed tailor-made because it used everything in her career background including her PhD in materials engineering.

Last year, in response to criticism over research and development funding being corporate welfare, Quin said company feedback indicated grants were a cost-effective way of motivating firms to spend more on R&D and helping them grow bigger, faster.

But one of the difficulties in measuring their impact is the time lag between the research being done and revenue starting to flow from any product or service developed from it which can take between two to ten years, Quin said.

Callaghan Innovation handed out $138 million in total grants last year.

The agency is appointing an interim chief executive while starting the search for a permanent replacement.

(Additional reporting BusinessDesk)

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