Currently I am an Advisor for New Zealand Government Affairs. In this role I act as a bridge between Fonterra and Political Stakeholders, both for incoming and outgoing information and engagements. A key project I am leading right now is the Regional Engagement Plan, where we are focusing on proactive engagement with Members of Parliament (MPs) within their electorates. This gives MPs a greater understanding of the Co-ops contribution to regional New Zealand by showcasing our sites, and builds relationships with influential MPs who may become Ministers in the future. I have also been heavily involved with the DIRA amendment Bill and Fonterra capital restructure.
I got into this role because my first role out of the programme was as a Sustainable Dairy Advisor, where my main role was to develop Farm Environmental Plans and assist farmers with environmental regulation. I wanted a greater understanding of how legislation is created, and how we can influence the legislative process, which I am now gaining in my current role.
The Graduate programme gave me a ‘crash course’ into how Fonterra operates, which is hugely beneficial for any role you may be looking to enter within the Co-op and is unique to this programme. Not many people get such an extensive and deep dive into Fonterra’s operations, which is something I did not understand the gravity of until I finished the programme. The course also set me up for success in my roles by giving me a greater understanding of my personal work style, and how to complement this. This was through brain dominance and personality discussion, writing modules and coaching workshops. Perhaps the most important asset the programme has given me is access to a vast network. Having a network to reach out to, and knowing the right people to talk to has been incredibly beneficial to my current role where I work with several internal stakeholders across the Co-op.
Since the programme I have had the opportunity to work with several teams on projects, and have had two roles outlined about. Other projects I was involved in was the Oraka Stream project with the Tirau Environmental Team and revamping the operator onboarding process which as piloted at Hautapu. In my roles, I have been given several training opportunities. In my role as an SDA we had regular development ‘trips’ where we learnt about new on farm techniques and mitigation in the field. In my current role, I have had the opportunity to travel to Wellington frequently and engage with political stakeholders, as well as attending seminars at the Beehive.
What has surprised me the most about working at Fonterra is our focus on sustainability, and the work going on behind the scenes to make sure our targets are aspirational and that there are robust plans in place to achieve them. Before I started with Fonterra, the Co-op had a bad reputation in terms of environmental footprint. And while we are still on a journey, environmental sustainability has been a key focus in both of my roles.
I was also surprised by how far Fonterra reach as a company, in terms of the markets we are in, the products we produce, and the businesses we supply to.
This is a hard question because of the wealth of opportunity there is within the Co-op. There is so much to choose from, whether you want a greater technical knowledge in your field, or if you want to sidestep into something completely new. A goal I am currently focusing on is developing my Te Reo Māori capability. There are several initiatives within the Co-op to aid people wanting more knowledge, and the Co-op has been very supportive of me seeking out other opportunities to do this which had led me to doing a full immersion course in the new year.