Cwmpas CEO Derek Walker is leaving to take up Welsh youth development role

Walker, who oversaw the organisation’s rebrand from the Wales Co-operative Centre, has been appointed future generations commissioner

Derek Walker, CEO of Welsh co-op development agency Cwmpas, is leaving the organisation to take on the role of future generations commissioner.

Walker, who replaces Sophie Howe after her tenure in the Welsh government role ends early next year, has helmed Cwmpas – formerly Wales Co-operative Centre – for 12 years.

Announcing his move on Twitter, he said: “I am leaving ⁦Cwmpas Coop⁩ to become the next future generations commissioner. It is an important role and I will give it my all.

“I will be sad to leave Cwmpas after 12 years, a fantastic place to work with good people doing great work.”

During his time at Cwmpas, one of the largest organisations of its kind in the UK, he became a familiar face at movement conferences and gatherings across the country, and oversaw its rebrand earlier this year.

Walker helped to reorientate the organisation’s work to focus on sustainable development approaches, and oversaw programmes that have led to a significant growth in the number of co-operatives, social enterprises and employee-owned businesses in Wales.

Cwmpas has partnered with the Welsh government on a number of projects, most recently in July when it was been reappointed by ministers to support the transformation of services within the social care sector, by pushing forward the development of social value models. In February the Welsh government extended the digital inclusion programme the agency delivers in partnership with Good Things Foundation and Swansea University.

Prior to working at Cwmpas, Walker worked as head of external affairs at the Big Lottery Fund (Wales), as head of policy and campaigns at the Wales TUC and was the first employee of Stonewall Cymru.

Related: Q&A with Derek Walker

His new post, said a Welsh government release, will see him provide advice and support on sustainable development, encourage government and public bodies to take a longer-term view on policy decisions, and protect and promote the needs of future generations.

“It is a vital role in leading transformation across our nation, to create better lives and futures for our citizens,” said Walker. “The Well-being of Future Generations Act provides Wales with a legislative framework that gives us the opportunity to lead the world in sustainable development. I do not underestimate the challenge ahead. I commit to doing all I can to support public bodies in ensuring implementation matches the ambition of the act.”

First minister Mark Drakeford added: “Wales needs a strong, independent, and respected individual to take on the role, helping us all to leave a better legacy for people and planet.

“Derek comes with a wealth of knowledge and experience, and I know he will build the relationships across Wales to continue the movement for change initiated by the Well-being of Future Generations Act and the work of Sophie Howe.

“I want to pay tribute to Sophie Howe for all her work. Sophie has made the role her own, inspiring our younger generation and society in general, to think carefully about all the decisions we make, and how it will impact on those that succeed us as the leaders of tomorrow.”

Related: Cwmpas – A new direction for the Wales Co-operative Centre

Cwmpas chair David Jenkins said: “Over the course of the last 12 years, Derek has made a tremendous contribution to the development of Cwmpas and our mission to change the way our economy and society works. We are sad to see Derek move on but look forward to working closely with him in his new role.

“Derek’s leadership has been integral to the growth of the organisation. In particular he steered its rebranding to Cwmpas; substantially increased its commercial offering; and secured significant publicly-funded contracts delivering social business support, co-operative housing and digital inclusion. He has created a strong culture of integrity, collaboration and innovation.”

Glenn Bowen, Cwmpas’ director of enterprise, will take on the responsibilities of CEO on an interim basis when Derek departs at the end of February 2023. 

Cwmpas said the search for a new CEO has already begun and Bowen will be working with the Cwmpas board, senior leaders and wider staff team to manage the recruitment process. 

Bowen added: “Everyone at Cwmpas thanks Derek for his tireless efforts in guiding the organisation, and wishes him good luck in his new role. He leaves behind a fantastic legacy, including a bold 5-year strategy, that we will drive forwards under the leadership of a new CEO.”