Alumni Biographies 2014-2015
Alison Watters B.Agr.Sc (Hons), PhD
Alison and her husband Andrew are owners in a family partnership 630-cow dairy farm in the Wairarapa. Alison and Andrew had a relatively late entry into ‘hands-on’ dairy farming in 1999 and secured the New Zealand Sharemilker of the Year Title in 2003.
Alison is a graduate from Massey University and her career has evolved from research and education into the management of people and resources, including being Director of Human Nutrition at Massey University (2002-2005), and as a Technical Manager at Fonterra Co-op Ltd from 2006-2011. This latter role involved commercialisation of new innovations in foods and food ingredients, and consolidated Alison’s knowledge and experience in the development of successful value propositions and international sales and marketing.
Alison’s experience, having operated as a provider of research to the primary industry, and then as a funder of food innovation research gives her insight into both the science of innovation and an awareness of the opportunities and pitfalls associated with innovation R&D. Alison’s passion lies in being able to 'translate' possible scientific opportunities in to well-tuned, relevant value propositions that are in line with consumer needs, and sometimes even ahead of the consumer's needs, thus generating a market opportunity.
Alison is currently a farmer-elected director on the Livestock Improvement Corporation board, as well as a director on the Equestrian Sports NZ board, and the ESNZ Eventing board. Alison is also a board member for Nga Tawa Diocesan School for Girls.
Alison is deeply passionate about ensuring the success of New Zealand’s agribusinesses, and uses her scientific expertise and critical thinking to influence and lead the discussions, and ultimately decisions, around how strategic investments in agribusiness are aligning with farmers’ needs both now, and in the future.
Born and bred into the dairy industry I am a strong supporter of the co-op system and have seen over the generations the strength this has brought to the industry. I am married to Liz and have three active primary school age boys. We live on the farm and employ equity managers, but take an active role in strategic management.
Initially a career in the agricultural machinery industry saw me connect with many farmers on a daily basis, and grew my understanding of the flow on effects of the dairy farming industry on the wider community. Agriculture is a passion and this has seen me travel the world working with farmers, from the US, Europe and China. The simple common thread of a farmer, their crops/animals, their family’s livelihood and marketing their produce is fundamental across the board linking agriculture around the globe.
Entrepreneurial vision and embracing change is a key strength, with the ability to connect big picture vision while understanding day to day challenges is a skill I bring to a governance position. I have been deeply involved with many new ventures for NZ agriculture, such as bringing to NZ a regular agricultural machinery demonstration event, Grasslandz. I enjoy challenging the status quo, and mapping new directions.
Governance positions include a director and shareholder of Ohaupo Dairies Ltd, GL Events Ltd and Chairman of the Community Hall Committee. I am looking to broaden my governance experience and add value to NZ’s rural industry. I am passionate about Fonterra, its heritage and its future for New Zealand, particularly from a Governance and representation position.
Together with partner Jacqui, we farm in Gippsland, Victoria, Australia. We have two children of high school age. My interest in dairy farming developed whilst growing up in the South Waikato. After a brief stint contract milking in South Canterbury I started farming in Australia in 2002. After some years leasing we now own and operate our 450 cow autumn calving farm in rain fed Gippsland.
Being interested in the challenges beyond my own farm gate saw my governance journey start in 2010 as a Director of GippsDairy, one of Dairy Australia’s regional development programmes. Since then I also serve as a Director of Gippsland’s Rural Financial Counselling Service and am Deputy Chairman of Bonlac Supply Company (BSC). BSC represents the interests of farmers supplying milk to Fonterra in Australia.
Having completed a Nuffield scholarship in 2014 based around improving farmer productivity I am also pleased to contribute to the industry through steering committee roles with ‘Future Dairy’ and ‘Precision Dairy’.
Dirk Sieling was born on a mixed farm in Holland in 1952. He emigrated to New Zealand in 1974 and started a farming career. Between 1993 and 2003 he took ten years off active farming and with his wife Kathy set up a successful gamefishing and diving business in the Solomon Islands. During that time he also set up the Gizo Yacht Club and together with The Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron organised the first international Brisbane to Gizo yacht races. Whilst in the Solomons he wrote a 340 page illustrated cruising guide for the country.
When he returned to NZ he was initially elected to Chairman of Federated Farmers Dairy Section Hauraki/Coromandel. Consequently he got elected onto the Thames Coromandel District Council and also on the Fonterra Shareholders Council where he served nearly 9 years. During his time on the Shareholders Council, where he was on the Leadership Team, he was charged with revising the Cooperative Principles and was co-chair of the Governance and Representation Review Joint Working Group with the Fonterra Board.
Currently Dirk and Kathy are milking just over 900 cows on two farms close to the township of Whitianga on the Coromandel Peninsula, having started with a 135 cow farm. They have set up two QEII bush covenants on their farm and intend to continue their program of native bush protection.
Dirk has always had an interest in quality governance and apart from the Fonterra Governance Development Program has successfully completed the Rabobank Executive Development Program in Sydney.
He is a member of the Seachange Stakeholder Working Group, a non statutory body charged by the Regional Councils with developing a Marine Spatial Plan for the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, which aims to increase abundance and includes water quality issues in the catchment areas in the northeast Waikato and Auckland regions.
Don’s career has been in the forestry sector, which he combines with commercial interests in farming, timber processing and aviation.
More recently Don has increased his involvement in Governance. In 2014 he was appointed as the inaugural Chair of the Game Animal Council – a newly formed Statutory Body. In addition he:
Chairs Verda International Ltd (Timber Processing)
Chairs Gro 5 Ltd (800 cow Bay of Plenty diary operation with an additional 200ha runoff)
Chairs STIMBR, (A primary sector research consortium focussed on maintaining and improving NZ’s ability to meet phytosanitary requirements of trading partners)
Is a Board member of The Bioprotection Centre of Research Excellence based at Lincoln University.
Don is based near Rotorua and has been heavily involved in various local and community organisations and professional bodies for over 25 years including past Chair of the local school BOT.
With the family increasingly moving into new phases of their lives, Don has more time to focus on governance and how this can improve performance and outcomes at all levels. Driving value for all stakeholders, through high quality governance is potentially the best opportunity NZ has in the primary sector, as this is where real sustainable value can be created.
Edward with his wife Angeline and their three boys live in Hamilton and enjoy the mix of city and farm life. They own a dairy farm in Kaeo, Northland where they have a contract milker in place. The farm runs a peak of 700 dairy cows over 320 effective hectares and now grows practically all of the feed requirements on farm. Edward is currently the National FarmWise Manager at the Livestock Improvement Corporation
Edward is passionate about good strategic governance and achieving excellent results in all three areas of financial, people and the environment. He enjoys being involved in the primary and infrastructure sector and in the community. He has been successful in organisations he has served in bringing about focused direction and positive cultural change. He brings good practical commercial experience across a wide range of activities, brings enthusiastic energy to the board table and identifies opportunities that can be captured to enhance organisational performance.
Edward has a wide range of expertise; after graduating with a BE(Hons) Natural Resources he undertook design, staff & contractor supervision, contract management and environmental resource management activities with NZFP/Carter Holt Forests. Following on from this, after a break travelling and working overseas he then worked for a significant civil construction contractor – HEB Construction. With HEB he lead the company’s quality assurance programme, helped set policy and then project managed, promoted to division manager and became part of the executive management team. Edward left HEB after nearly 7 years to join an engineering consultancy (LineTech) where he provided both professional consulting services and lead the organisation through growth from a 13 person organisation to a 50+ organisation with 3 regional offices and 10 home based personnel providing services nationally and internationally (as far afield as Iceland, Fiji, Indonesia, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Philippines and Australia). Edward finished with LineTech in 2014 to pursue the passion he has in the rural sector and joined LIC as their National FarmWise Manager.
Along the journey Edward completed a Post Graduate Diploma in Business and Administration from Massey (extramurally) and completed NZ Institute of Directors Company Direction course. He is a Chartered Member of the Institute of Directors NZ and a Chartered Professional Engineer. He is also an Associate Member of the NZ Institute of Primary Industry Management and is an active voted national board member of the NZIPIM. Edward plans to extend his governance activities both commercially in the rural and infrastructure sector and in additional community organisations he enjoys being part of.
After growing up on a sheep and beef farm in Northland, Kate’s own farming career began when Kate and her husband began managing sheep and beef properties in the King Country and Eastern Taranaki. Eventually, with their young family in tow, Kate and her husband moved back to Northland to take up dairying and begin working their way through the sharemilking system to farm ownership. Twenty years later, they now own and operate a 270ha dairy farm in Dargaville.
For the past 16 years Kate has also worked for the Primary ITO, most recently as Agribusiness Development Manager, working to enhance business and financial skills within the agriculture and horticulture industries.
Having owned and operated her own agri-business and also been employed in a large not-for-profit organisation, Kate has the unique ability of being able to see situations from all perspectives and have a strategic viewpoint to reflect and achieve positive outcomes. She is a practical person that applies good business acumen including financial and risk management skills at Board level.
Kate holds a Diploma in Agribusiness Management.
In 2014 Kate was to be elected on to the Ravensdown board of directors.Kate has a community focus – currently she is the Chair of the Rural Support Trust – Northland, an organisation providing necessary support for the rural sector in Northland.
I am currently the Owner & Director of Morrinsville New World, a supermarket employing 120 people in the heart of the Waikato.
My family dairy farmed in the Waikato before moving into asparagus. I am on the board of Boyd’s Asparagus Industries Limited, the largest grower and packer of asparagus in NZ.
Having graduated from Waikato University with a BMS (Accounting & Information Systems) and becoming a Chartered Accountant, I went on to hold a number of senior finance and strategy rolls in large corporates in New Zealand and the UK, completing post graduate work in marketing at AGSM during this time.
Moving into business ownership I joined the establishment and growth of what is now Go-Bus as a shareholder, director and Chief Financial Officer.
After selling Go Bus and entering the supermarket industry for the past 9 years I have become a passionate ‘Grocer’ and have retail in my blood. I currently sit on the New World Committee for Foodstuffs North Island and represent the members on a number of other sub-committees. The Fonterra Governance program has allowed me to further my governance capabilities and experience. Governance is a path I am actively following and would like to add more to other organisations in this area.
Married to Angela, I have three children, and am on the Board of Trustees of David Street School in Morrinsville to help play a part in my children’s education and that of the wider community in Morrinsville.
Stuart lives in Tauranga with wife Rachel, and three school-aged children.
Outside of business, time largely spent in community activities through school and church
Current Governance roles:
Managing Director, Apata Group; major post-harvest business in Kiwifruit and Avocados – growing, processing, coolstorage & export.
Chairman, Golden Kiwifruit Company; kiwifruit supply to NZ retailers
Director, Team Kiwi; kiwifruit supply to Australian retailers
Bachelor of Commerce [Auckland University]
Extensive CEO experience and commercial exposure to Horticulture, Red Meat, White Meat, Dairy, Fish – the common theme being Primary based export business.
Focus is now on expanding Governance roles particularly in Primary Industry where he is most passionate.
I have had 35 years’ experience in the dairy industry and employing staff for 27 years, commencing as a farm cadet, and obtaining a diploma in farm management.
I am an equity partner in Argyll Dairy Farm which is based in Clydevale, South Otago, currently milking 2350 cows. I formed our partnership in 2005 which has had very attractive returns for its shareholders. I am also currently employed by Castlerock Dairies as CEO and I also am also a director for some Aquila Capital farm investments within Southland and two other businesses.
Between 2009 and 2015 I was employed by MyFarm Ltd as senior farm business leader, based in the Southland regional office and also part of the overall senior management team. This role was a great insight into corporate farming. This role was mainly overseeing Aquila Investments within New Zealand working with the overseas investors requirements as these were investment funds and making them line up with the farm gate strategy. This role also was heavily involved in line with the overseas investments requirements that are set out by the O.I.O.
I have been married to my wife Jacqui for 31 years, we have 3 adult children.