The Dairy Women’s Network will have three new faces when its board meets on Friday.
Fonterra Dairy Woman of the year 2019 Trish Rankin, Dairy Women’s Network Business Group Director Rachel Haskew and Chief Executive of iwi-owned Pouarua Farms Jenna Smith will all bring valuable varied skills and experiences, Dairy Women’s Network Trust Board Chair Karen Forlong said.
“They all have taken different paths which have led them to our board table that adds the diversity we need. They will bring an abundance of new thought and enthusiasm that links to present opportunities and challenges within Dairy.”
“Boards change as some depart and others come in and we’re excited by what these women will bring to the table,” she said. “It’s a younger group perhaps looking through slightly different lenses; I see it as a great balance.”
“Dairy Women’s Network is Rachel’s tribe, pink blood runs through her veins. Trish is all about women in the agrisector and has been amazing representing woman and the Dairy Women’s Network as the Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year while Jenna has a fantastic track record of success in large corporate farming environments.”
Rankin, who balances teaching part time at Opunake Primary School and being on farm full time in South Taranaki with husband Glen and four boys, married into the dairy industry.
She has been moving into agricultural governance space over the last two years having been elected on to the Dairy Industry Awards National Executive and has been continuing her professional development with the Institute of Directors.
“Seeing a vacancy for the Dairy Women’s Network Board which has really enriched my life and agriculture experience was pretty exciting,” she said.
“The board is another step for my journey in how I can use the areas I love, agriculture, women in agriculture, leadership and passion, to see people be supported to reach their potential, all tied into one.”
A passionate environmentalist, Rankin has undertaken the Kellogg Leadership Programme with the main purpose being a research project focused on how a circular economy model can be developed on a New Zealand dairy farm.
An active Dairy Enviro Leader (DEL) and member of the NZ DEL network she is also Chair of the Taranaki DEL group. Rankin is on the National Executive for the NZ Dairy Awards, the Dairy Enviro Leaders Steering Committee for DairyNZ and has her own consultation business Porohita, working closely with Venture Taranaki’s 2050 Transition to a Low Emission Economy Project.
Haskew, who has former Dairy Women’s Network board experience as the Regional Leader Representative, said having been involved with the Dairy Women’s Network for a long time bought a “deep understanding of the business, our volunteer Stakeholders (Hub/Regional Leaders and Members), Network Partners, our culture, values and strategy going forward.”
She is a partner in Agri-Advisory Business - 8pC, is Director and Business Manager for Milk Smart Limited, and has a background in science and business that includes time as DairyNZ Contractor and Agribusiness advisor to DairyNZ’s Dairy Base Farmer Reference Group.
She says she’s a “strong strategic and analytical thinker - that’s the scientist in me - who constructively challenges thinking"
“For me challenging thinking is always about the issue or idea and driving toward the best outcome. It’s being clear about the problem we are trying to solve and asking the right question to get the right outcome.”
Haskew says she almost didn’t apply for the trust board as she didn’t have experience. She says it was a late decision to throw her hat in the ring after a conversation with one of her mentors.
“I knew I wanted to continue my Dairy Women’s Network leadership journey around the board table because I’m passionate about what we do to empower farming women along their own leadership journey. It’s very rewarding to see farmers learn, connect and grow with the opportunities Dairy Women’s Network offer.”
She feels the Dairy Women’s Network has evolved significantly over the last 18 months and believes the direction is good and the network is well set up to provide farming women the knowledge, tools, inspiration and support they need to thrive through the next decade of farming.
“Our Story Telling project ‘OUR PEOPLE.THEIR STORIES has been well received, Business Groups are gaining momentum and our Network Partner Workshops continue to deliver valuable and timely knowledge.”
“It’s been a difficult time coping with Covid19 and face to face events being cancelled, however, the speed and resilience with which farmers and all those who support our industry have adapted to continue to farm and provide food has been impressive, and makes me proud to be a NZ Dairy Farmer.”
Smith, who has worked for large corporate agribusinesses farming and managing operations from North Waikato to Southland, feels the key thing she will bring to the Dairy Women’s Network board is her abstract reasoning.
“I believe the many different business situations I have worked in has given me the ability to understand the multiple meanings underlying an issue or situation which in turn means I have a relatively complex out of the box style of problem solving,” she said.
“As I have progressed in my career I have been motivated to join organisations such as Dairy Women’s Network to impart some of my experiences and hopefully enrich the agricultural sector by helping other young or progressive people to keep pushing through roadblocks and lead in the style they are passionate about.”
Smith said her greatest frustration in the sharemilking business with her husband was being viewed as “just the farmer’s wife” which has motivated her to help women get out from the shadows and be seen as the business partners or executives they are capable of being.
“Being married to a dairy farmer meant I got to keep a hand in grass roots with our sharemilking business which crosses well to corporate farming, bringing the realistic practical touches to what can sometimes be a pretty textbook world,” she said.
As Chief Executive of Pouarua Farms she oversees the largest single platform in the region that employs 45 staff and families spread across nine Dairy farms and one Drystock support on 2200ha in the Hauraki Plains.
Prior to this she worked for investment farming businesses and SOE Landcorp, saying this experience has given her a pretty large toolbox of strategic tools.
Forlong is excited about her new look board saying “all three new trustees are all very capable.”
“They all have their feet firmly on the ground, and are grass and gumboots dairy while being well and truly across the bigger picture. It’s important to tell our stories, and each of these woman have their own stories of success that will only add even more value to the Dairy Women’s Network.”
“It’s about giving back to an industry they are all passionate about, and I can’t wait to get started working with them.”