Kapuni is one of the only places in the world that has the expertise to produce super high quality pharmaceutical grade lactose.
This lactose is used by DFE Pharma, a joint venture between Fonterra and Dutch dairy co-operative FrieslandCampina, to supply many of the dry powder inhalers around the world, treating things like asthma.
Emma and her family are dairy farmers, but she branched out and spent time in academia, teaching a wide variety of subjects from Organisational Psychology to Commercial Law at tertiary education institutes around the country. She made the leap into high-tech manufacturing in the mid-2000s, and we caught up with her to talk about her life and career.
What do you do as Operations Manager?
I try to keep everything running on the site as it should, that means looking after people, product, and plant assets. I have an amazing team, so I also try to make time for improving the way we do things – working on break-through technologies, trying to think of ways we might do things differently in the future.
What drove you to make the change from academia to high tech manufacturing?
My brain is just wired to want to learn new things and stay intellectually challenged (geek DNA through and through… unsurprisingly, quiz nights are a favourite pastime for me!). High tech manufacturing appealed as it wasn’t something I’d thought about doing before, but I thought it looked interesting – I thought I’d like to understand how it works and that I’d have something of value to add!
What is it like to be involved in a project like inhalable lactose?
It’s the perfect combination of a challenging project and the opportunity to positively affect people on a daily basis. The stuff we make at Kapuni helps make people feel better, it supports their health, and we get to have this globally positive impact from our small site tucked away under Mt Taranaki.
What are you most proud of in your time at Fonterra?
I get to recruit a bunch of people each year to new roles or vacancies that come up. I’m a bit of a risk taker with my appointment decisions – always selecting potential over proven performance - and love seeing people who’ve been given a work opportunity just thrive and kick butt.