Our Senior Leadership Team are highly skilled and committed to our vision of becoming the world’s most innovative and trusted dairy company. The team is led by our Managing Director and CEO, Dr John Penno, and consists of an Executive Leadership Team (ELT) and senior executives.
Dr John Penno
Managing Director and CEO
John co-founded the Synlait Group in 2000 and has been a full-time executive for the Synlait Group since 2006. As CEO, John is responsible for setting the strategic direction of the company and supporting the Senior Leadership Team to deliver against this direction in their areas. As Managing Director, John contributes to the governance of Synlait alongside our Directors on the Board. After completing an Agricultural Science degree, John commenced his career in the dairy industry as a consulting officer for the New Zealand Dairy Board before joining Dexcel as a research scientist where he completed a PhD in animal science. As a scientist and research program leader he worked to enable New Zealand dairy farmers to increase productivity and profit. In 2009, John received an emerging leader’s award from the Sir Peter Blake Trust and the Excellence in Leadership award at the 2015 New Zealand International Business Awards.
Chief Financial Officer (ELT)
Nigel has had extensive experience in finance, having held senior executive finance roles with various New Zealand companies. As CFO, Nigel is responsible for finance, funding and legal. Prior to joining Synlait in 2010, Nigel held CFO roles with Crane Distribution NZ Limited, Gough Group Limited and Lyttelton Port Company Limited. Nigel is a member of the Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, and the Institute of Directors. Nigel holds a Bachelor of Commerce in accounting and has completed the General Manager Program at the University of Michigan.
Director, Operations (ELT)
Neil re-joined the Senior Leadership Team in January 2017 after a 12-month sabbatical to Tetra Pak in the Netherlands. In 2016 he was a recipient of a Prime Minister’s Business Scholarship and completed INSEAD’s Advanced Management Programme. His current role requires him to have input into the company strategy, and to develop and run a world class supply chain and manufacturing operation. He holds a Bachelor of Chemical and Process Engineering from Canterbury University, and a Diploma in Dairy Science and Technology from Massey University. He is also a Chartered Engineer with IPENZ.
DIRECTOR, STRATEGY AND TRANSFORMATION (ELT)
Chris brings more than 30 years business experience to Synlait and is responsible for leading strategy and business transformation. His expertise in strategic planning, leadership, and developing high performing teams puts Chris in a strong position to support Synlait’s growth. Chris focuses on Synlait being clear about where we want to go, and aligned on change programmes that will deliver on this vision. The value Chris brings to Synlait is to ensure the organisation is optimising its potential through clarity of vision and excellence of execution at a strategic level. Chris joined Synlait in 2015 and previously held senior management roles at Deloitte, IAG New Zealand, AMI Insurance and KPMG. His background in management consulting includes leading significant programmes of work across a wide range of industries. Chris holds a Bachelor of Commerce in accounting and a Bachelor of Science in computer science from the University of Canterbury in Christchurch.
DIRECTOR, SALES AND BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT (ELT)
Martijn joined Synlait in September 2016 and provides leadership and direction for sales and business development. Martijn oversees strategy realisation across major new customer acquisitions, as well as product research and development, technical services, category planning and account management and sales. Business development is the central process where, by alignment between sales, category planning and research and development, significant value growth is realised for Synlait and its customers. Martijn’s 20 years of work experience in the international dairy industry includes various senior commercial roles with FrieslandCampina. His insights of value-added dairy in B2C and B2B market segments range from medical foods, infant formula and pharmaceutical excipients to traditional dairy products. Martijn has lived and worked in the Asia Pacific since 2002 and he holds a Bachelor of Business in International Marketing and Management.
Director People, Culture and Performance (ELT)
A senior international human resources executive, Boyd brings more than 30 years of experience to Synlait’s Senior Leadership Team. He oversees the organisational development, human resource, health and safety, corporate communications and staff facilities functions. Boyd started his career with Unilever and worked in senior roles throughout Africa, Asia, Europe and Australia. He joined DHL Express based in Singapore in 2005, providing strategic human resources leadership across Asia Pacific, Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa. Following this, he became Chief Human Resources Officer for Foster’s Group in 2010. Prior to joining Synlait, he was Human Resources Director (Asia Pacific) for Bacardi Group, a global business with more than 200 brands. Boyd holds a Bachelor of Economics degree from the University of Sydney.
General Manager, Strategic Projects
Matthew joined Synlait in February 2012 as GM Supply Chain. In his role of GM Strategic Projects, Matthew is responsible for managing the delivery of various initiatives identified in the company's strategic plan. He brings a wealth of supply chain management and dairy industry experience to Synlait Milk Ltd through a 20 year career with the New Zealand Dairy Board and Fonterra, where he held senior management positions in the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, the Americas and New Zealand. Before joining Synlait Milk, Matthew was CEO at NZL Group and prior to that, General Manager Commercial for Tasman Orient Line. Matthew is a member of the Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, and holds a Bachelor of Management Studies from the University of Waikato.
General Manager, Supply Chain
Rob joined Synlait in 2007 and is responsible for managing and developing Synlait Milk’s supply chain activities from farmer to customer, plus oversight of the integrated business planning process (IBP). Having previously held senior roles within finance, information services, supply chain, business transformation and most recently leading the implementation of IBP, Rob has an intimate understanding of the Synlait business and dairy industry, and contributes over 20 years of experience across a variety of disciplines and industries to the Senior Leadership Team. Prior to joining Synlait Milk, Rob held senior finance positions within New Zealand and United Kingdom namely Duns Limited, Transport for London, PlaneStation Group, Royal Sun Alliance and Liberty Syndicates. Rob is a member of the Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, and holds both a Bachelor of Commerce in accounting and a Graduate Diploma in finance from the University of Otago.
General Manager, Manufacturing
Antony has more than 20 years international experience in the dairy industry, and has worked in a number of locations including New Zealand, South East Asia and the Middle East. Most recently Antony was based in Singapore as Fonterra Brand’s General Manager Operations and Supply Chain. He holds a Bachelor of Food Technology and a Postgraduate Diploma of Business and Administration from Massey University. His role requires him to lead the manufacturing function and ensure Synlait makes the right products, at the right time. He also is responsible for making sure our staff are safe, whilst making safe products for our customers.
General Manager, Sales
Callam joined Synlait in April 2017 after an extensive period offshore managing international dairy markets and partners. He has more than 25 years of international B2B dairy experience across sales, business development, supply chain and product category management. Callam brings strong commercial leadership with a focus on maximising customer development and growing Synlait’s global partnerships. He began his dairy career at the NZ Dairy Board in 1993 and progressed through a range of senior leadership roles. This allowed him to build up a depth of global experience in a range of key management areas which let him lead and perform at the highest levels of both regional and corporate businesses.
GENERAL MANAGER, INNOVATION AND TECHNICAL SERVICES
Roger joined the Senior Leadership Team in January 2017 and brings more than 20 years experience in international dairy Research and Development and product development. He previously worked at Glanbia in Ireland as the Technical Director, Fonterra as the Global Research and Development Manager, and Nestle in Switzerland as the Product Area Manager in children’s nutrition. His role as the General Manager of Innovation and Technical Services has three parts - to manage new product and technology development projects, to execute innovation process development, and to manage and lead the laboratory. Roger has a Bachelor of Science in microbiology and chemistry, and a Postgraduate Diploma of Dairy Science and Technology – both from Massey University.
Director, Sustainability and Brand
Hamish Reid takes the lead on developing Synlait’s strategy for sustainability with a particular focus on our aspiration to further improve our environmental and social performance from farm to fridge. He will also lead our thinking as we continue evaluating potential B2C opportunities. Hamish has deep experience in food and beverage marketing, predominantly for Danone in Paris and Saatchi & Saatchi in London. More recently, Hamish has established an award-winning not-for-profit in New Zealand and consulted to businesses around the world developing environmental and social programmes that boost economic performance.
Dr Suzan Horst
Director, Quality, Regulatory and Laboratory Services
Suzan Horst has most recently been Director Quality Affairs, Business Group EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) for FrieslandCampina. She has held other senior roles since joining them in 2005, including Director Corporate QA, crisis and issue management and Corporate Quality Assurance Manager. Prior to joining FrieslandCampina, Suzan was Global Food Safety Competence Manager for Nutreco B V and lectured agricultural economics and food safety before that. Suzan holds a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics and a Bachelor of Science in Animal Husbandry from the Wageningen University and Research Centre in the Netherlands, part of which involved study at Massey University in New Zealand.
General Counsel and Head of Commercial
Deborah Marris is joining Synlait from her previous role as Managing Director, Global Compliance with Barclays Bank, India. Prior to that she held senior executive roles with other global organisations, including as General Counsel (Asia Pacific, Europe and America), Chief of Staff (New Zealand) and also Head of Tax (New Zealand) for ANZ Bank. Deborah established her career initially with 15 years working as a senior lawyer for firms throughout New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Hong Kong. Deborah holds a Bachelor of Commerce and Administration and a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) from Victoria University of Wellington and is a qualified barrister and solicitor in New Zealand.