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At the helm . . . Port Otago chief executive Kevin Winders at Port Otago in Port Chalmers. PHOTO: JOSHUA RIDDIFORD

Port Otago chief executive Kevin Winders will oversee the completion of two major projects before the end of next year.

The first is the deepening of the port’s channel to 14 metres, which is expected to be completed by Christmas.

The port has resource consent to deepen the channel to 15 metres if necessary.

The second project is the extension of the Port Otago multipurpose (container No 2) wharf by 140metres.

Work starts next month on the wharf extension, which is expected to take 13 months and cost $21million.

The move meant the port would be better able to manage the flow of incoming vessels, Mr Winders said.

“Just gives us flexibility to juggle the ships as they come in and put them at the appropriate place to work them and maintain a safe work environment, particularly looking after our passengers coming off the cruise [liners]”

The issue was not so much cruise vessels, which could almost “turn on a dime”, but container ships, which had grown in size and took a lot more manoeuvring, he said.

While Mr Winders is excited about the two projects, he told The Star that having time to settle into his role was a welcome change to his earlier corporate positions.

He started the job in March.

Outgoing chief executive Geoff Plunket stayed on into June, which gave Mr Winders time to settle into the role, learn the job and understand what the issues were for the business.

Such a managed transition was unusual in the corporate world, he said.

“Normally when you go into a role like this you turn up as the new guy and the board gives you 10 things to fix.

“Then you have to start focusing on those issues really quickly.”

There had still been a lot to learn for Mr Winders, including gaining a better understanding of technical operations at the port which catered for 391 cargo vessels and 70 cruise ships in the 2016 financial year.

Having previously worked at meat exporter Silver Fern Farms, Mr Winders had some useful background knowledge when he began with the port.

“Coming in here I’d been involved at governance level with shipping [and] knew a fair bit about international trade.”

He also had an appreciation of the challenges facing customers of port services.

Reflecting on his time so far in the position, Mr Winders said he had been impressed.

“It’s a good business. There’s a really good team here.”