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CLIENT NEWS: New CEO for Dairy Women’s Network

From 16 May, a new face will be at the helm of Dairy Women’s Network.

Jules Benton will take over from Zelda de Villiers as CEO, who announced her resignation in December 2017.

Benton was recently general manager for Wolters Kluwer CCH New Zealand, a research and workflow solutions company. Prior to that she spent more than a decade consulting to businesses to develop leadership capability, streamline processes and promote ongoing professional development and education.

Dairy Women’s Network chair Cathy Brown says Benton brings a wealth of experience in leadership, education and strategy development, which she says are key areas of continued opportunity for Dairy Women’s Network and the dairy industry as a whole.

“Jules’ knowledge, skills and experience are perfectly matched with Dairy Women’s Network and the role we play in continuing to provide unlimited opportunities for women in dairy,” says Brown.

“She has decades of experience in managing multiple stakeholder interests and competing deadlines, as well as streamlining operations to ensure businesses and projects run effectively and efficiently.

“We’re very pleased to announce her appointment and know she will be a great fit with the wider team and our members.”

She also acknowledged de Villiers’ contribution to the Network. “On behalf of the board I thank Zelda for her leadership over the past four years. She leaves the Network in a very strong place and we wish her well in the future.”

De Villiers leaves to focus on a new business venture in Northland.

Benton says she is looking forward to working with the Network and helping members make the most of the opportunities available to them.

“When I saw the opportunity come up I knew I could really bring something to this organisation. I have a lot of experience in leadership development and helping people gain the skills and tools they need to do well at all stages of their careers,” she says.

As CEO of the 10,000-strong membership organisation, Benton will be responsible for representing and championing Dairy Women’s Network at an industry level and focusing on its next strategic step.

“Dairy women are a driving force and make extraordinary contributions across all levels of the industry. I very much see this role as a partnership with our staff and members to ensure dairy women’s contributions are recognised and celebrated, and we’re driving some important conversations.

“I think the New Zealand public hasn’t yet fully grasped the breadth of knowledge and skills women bring to the dairy industry, so I’m looking forward to continuing to build on the great work the Network has been doing in this area and continuing to highlight those achievements.”

First on Benton’s agenda as CEO is getting to know the Network’s members and partners.

“There’s a great energy surrounding the Network and I’ve seen through their previous events, conferences and awards just how passionate they are about what they do and the sheer variety of opportunities available to members.

“I’m looking forward to meeting everyone, learning what makes them tick and how we can continue to support them and stay responsive to their changing needs and priorities.”

With charitable trust status, Dairy Women’s Network receives project funding from DairyNZ and has a stable of influential agribusinesses and industry sponsors.