Hugh Phemister appointed Willoughby City Council General Manager

Last modified on 19 June 2024


Willoughby City Council’s Interim Chief Executive Officer Hugh Phemister has been appointed as the Council’s permanent General Manager after a competitive recruitment process.

Mr Phemister had taken the reins as Interim CEO on 4 March 2024 following the retirement of long-serving CEO Debra Just, and was previously Council’s Planning and Infrastructure Director.

Willoughby City Council Mayor Tanya Taylor said:
“I am delighted to confirm the appointment of Hugh Phemister as Willoughby’s new General Manager. During the robust and competitive recruitment process Hugh demonstrated a clear vision for Willoughby based on excellence in customer service and community engagement, while his passion, experience and commitment to developing staff and teams shone through. The Councillors and I welcome Hugh to the role formally and look forward to working further with him.”

Mr Phemister has a reputation as a leader in property and social and affordable housing having held a number of senior executive roles in the private, not-for-profit and government sectors. Prior to his career at Council he worked in the NSW Government’s Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, where he was an Executive Director at the NSW Land and Housing Corporation, managing the design and construction of new social housing across the state.

Mr Phemister said:
“I’m honoured to be offered the role as Willoughby’s General Manager and to serve our residents, businesses and the broader community. We will continue implementing Council’s plan for this special corner of Sydney to ensure it thrives, and is a desirable place to live, visit, and invest. Thanks to the hard work of our Council staff, Willoughby is well placed to respond to the challenges we face in housing, the environment, and supporting local businesses in difficult economic times. I look forward to working with the Mayor, Councillors and all Council staff to deliver on our shared ambition.”

Notes to editors

  1. The position of Chief Executive Officer at Willoughby City Council was renamed General Manager during the recruitment process for a permanent successor to the previous CEO Debra Just, following a council resolution to bring the position’s title into line with terminology used in the Local Government Act.
  2. 90 applications were received during the recruitment process for the permanent position, which was assisted by Derwent Search.
  3. Alongside his NSW Government experience, Hugh Phemister was previously CFO/COO of a number of private companies, as well as General Manager of Development at Bridge Housing.
  4. He is also a Chartered Accountant having worked at Macquarie Bank, PriceWaterhouseCoopers and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
  5. For further information and enquiries please contact

For media enquiries, please contact:

The Media Team, Willoughby City Council
P: 0459 915 293


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