A desire to continue the good work done before him, while keeping an eye on the future, is the foundation upon which Matthew Bardwell will take to his new role as president of the Maitland Business Chamber.
Mr Bardwell took over from Craig McGregor in mid-October, with the outgoing president stepping down after three years at the helm of the organisation.
According to Mr Bardwell, he won’t look to “re-invent the wheel” with the chamber – instead, he’ll look to carry on his predecessor’s work, with an eye on the changing face of Maitland.
“From all accounts he took us in a great direction and it would be great to continue his legacy,” Mr Bardwell said of Mr McGregor’s stint as chamber leader.
At 29, Mr Bardwell brings a fresh-faced perspective to the leadership role.
A relationship manager at the central Commonwealth Bank, Mr Bardwell has worked in Maitland for about a year and a half.
He joined the business chamber shortly after his arrival in town, prompted to do so by a desire to “meet a few people, get involved (in the city) and have an input”.
Growing up on a semi-regional property at Kenthurst, to Sydney’s north west, Mr Bardwell attended the King’s School as a boarding student before going on to study an agricultural economics degree at Sydney University.
Rather than coming into his new role with a raft of planned changes, Mr Bardwell said he hoped to learn what it is the Maitland business community wants from their chamber.
“We want to be focusing energy on where it’s going to be most valued,” he said.
“I want the chamber to reflect what local businesses want, and not what I think.”
He highlighted decentralisation and the development of the new Maitland Hospital as two key issues the chamber would be keeping their eye on.
Involving small and medium enterprises and an increasingly younger population will also help direct the chamber’s future.
“We’re focusing on things we can control locally and at the moment it’s engaging with local businesses to see what they want.”