New World Wildlife Fund CEO is SCU graduate

Published 3 May 2010

A former Southern Cross University graduate, Dermot O’Gorman, has been appointed as the new chief executive officer for World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Australia.

Dermot, who will take on his new position from August 1, graduated in Applied Science from Southern Cross University in 1987.

“Dermot brings strong ties to China and a significant knowledge of Asia and the Pacific to the role as he is currently the head of WWF-China, in Beijing,” said WWF-Australia president Denis Saunders.

“He brings a broad national and international conservation experience to the role, reflecting WWF-Australia’s increasing engagement in regional conservation efforts.

“This exciting appointment will ensure the organisation is well placed to meet the growing environmental challenges facing our country and the region, from over-fishing to the creation of protected areas, species protection and climate change adaptation and mitigation.”

Among Dermot’s achievements as head of WWF-China are the establishment of a climate adaptation and wetland protected area network for the whole Yangtze River basin, the protection of 1.6 million hectares of panda landscape, and the promotion of an initiative with Chinese banks to green China’s investment into Africa and other developing countries.

He first joined WWF in 1998, becoming the head of Government and Aid Agency Partnerships for WWF-UK. In 2001, he moved to Fiji as WWF’s regional representative in the South Pacific, where he initiated the development of the Fiji Island and Bismarck Solomon Seas Eco-region planning approach and also supported Pacific Islands on fisheries and whale conservation.

After a number of years in the Pacific, he moved to WWF-International headquarters in Switzerland as the deputy director of WWF’s Asia Pacific program, overseeing conservation efforts across the region and managing WWF’s partnership with the Asia Development Bank.

Dermot said his time studying at Southern Cross University was ‘the most carefree period of my life and I have many great memories of my experience there’.

Growing up in Thirroul, on the NSW South Coast, he was always close to the bush and the beach and quickly developed a passion for all things outdoors. From the age of 12 he knew he wanted to work in the field of wildlife conservation and after completing his HSC he studied Applied Science majoring in conservation and ecology at Southern Cross University.

“The University introduced me to the importance of rigorous scientific study and the value of an interdisciplinary approach to problem solving. I really valued the applicability of the learning that has allowed me subsequently in my career to blend theory and practice,” he said.

Dermot still maintains contact with a few of his mates from Southern Cross University, even though he has spent the past 17 years away from Australia working in the UK, Switzerland, Fiji and China.

In addition to his studies at Southern Cross University, Dermot also studied at the University of London, the London School of Economics, and IMD in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Dermott said he was very much looking forward to returning to live in Australia with his wife and young son.

Photo: SCU alumnus Dermot O’Gorman, who has just been appointed CEO of World Wildlife Fund Australia.

Media contact: Zoe Satherley Southern Cross University media officer, 02 6620 3144, 0439 132 095.