February 22, 2018

Meet Paddy Leatherby

Cheese process tester, Taranaki.
One of the many who contribute to dairy loved around the world.

Every now and then you meet or talk to someone whose enthusiasm and positive outlook is so infectious it can’t help but rub off on you. Paddy Leatherby is one of those people.

Paddy is a cheese process tester as our Whareroa site in Taranaki and embraces a co-operative spirit and philosophy both at work and in the community. But more about that later.

Born and raised in the small Taranaki town of Pungarehu – the same hometown of the All Black Barrett brothers, something she is quick to point out – Paddy initially trained as a nurse before deciding it wasn’t for her, swapping her patients for a pushbike to become a postie and then a courier. But with a father who was a milk tanker driver it wasn’t long before she discovered dairy and has worked for Fonterra for the last 20 years.

To put it simply Paddy’s role at Whareroa is about quality control, taking samples from mozzarella and cheddar cheeses to check that chemistry composition and levels of fat, salt and moisture meet the specifications that our customers expect.

“I really enjoy my job”, she says. “One of the best bits is that I get to work in different areas of the site with a lot of different members of the Whareroa family and I’m not just stuck in one place.” That’s obviously pretty important for a self-confessed people person, and it was Paddy’s friendly and positive outlook that saw her approached to become a facilitator for the Co-op’s “It’s All About You” programme.

“The easiest way to describe the programme is life coaching I suppose”, she says. “It was a personal empowerment course designed to challenge people to get out of their comfort zone, to stretch themselves, to try new things and to set some goals. As facilitators it was really rewarding to see people push themselves and I also learned some valuable life skills and lessons.”

Paddy also recently facilitated ‘The Fundamentals’, a toolkit programme to support leaders. Topics include problem solving, how to get the best out of our people and communication. “It was a refresher for a lot of the leaders, but for me it was more good learnings, which I use in my process tester role” says Paddy.

It’s not just at work where Paddy is first in line to help and support others. As a Netball New Zealand umpire, she’s down at the local courts most Saturdays either mentoring younger officials, coaching school teams or just generally shouting encouragement from the sidelines, hoping to spur on the next Adine Wilson (nee Harper), the former Silver Ferns captain who also hails from Taranaki, something, again, Paddy is quick to mention.

Paddy approach to life is simple. “Treat others the way you would expect to be treated is my motto” she says. “It’s not a difficult thing to do and if we all lived our lives that way the world would be a much better place for it.”

The Whareroa Cheese Management Team: Sjaan Broms, Steve Fraser, Paddy Leatherby, Summer Lennox & Tara McKerrow