Alistair Neill, who is currently boss of Welsh authority Merthyr Tydfil, has been recommended for the £170k top job in Southampton.
Outgoing chief executive Brad Roynon announced he will retire in November as he turns 60 after a nine year stint.
Mr Neill joined Merthyr Tydfil in 2003 after it had been on the receiving end of some damning critics.
He turned around the failing authority into the best council in Wales and was praised for bringing "dynamic personal leadership" and "innovative business practices".
A graduate of Glasgow University, Mr Neill has previously held senior leadership roles blue chip private sector companies such as Unilever and BP.
Throughout the 1990s he led boards responsible for the oil giant's business operations in such diverse global regions as UK, Germany, Sweden, USA, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and Africa.
He has also worked at the heart of government in the Prime Minister's Delivery Unit in 2007 and 2008.
He joined the public sector in 2002 as a director at Northamptonshire County Council.
Mr Neill, who is married to a school teacher has three children said he was "honoured" to have been picked for the Southampton job.
"There is some tremendous work already in hand to develop the city further. The current economic situation means that there is also much to do to ensure that Southampton reaches its full potential
for everyone who lives here, and for those who come to work, visit or invest in Southampton. I am fully committed to that challenge."
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