Our Leadership

The Executive Leadership Team

Grant Watson

Chief Executive Officer

Grant joined Synlait as CEO in January 2022. He was previously CEO of dairy company, Miraka. Prior to Miraka, Grant spent 10 years at Fonterra where he held several senior roles including Director of Global Foodservice, Managing Director of Tip Top, and Director of Route and Foodservice Fonterra Brands New Zealand. Prior to Fonterra, Grant built his executive career at McDonalds New Zealand to become Chief Operating Officer. He has also held several governance and directorship roles for private and publicly listed companies.

Charles Fergusson

Acting Chief Financial Officer

Charles started with Synlait in February 2023 as Director of On-Farm Excellence, Business Sustainability. In April 2024 he took on Corporate Affairs and Strategy and was appointed Acting Chief Financial Officer. He was previously Regional Head of Farm Source: Canterbury Tasman Marlborough at Fonterra. Before that, Charles worked for KPMG, Goldman Sachs, Deloitte, and BP in various finance-based roles across New Zealand, Australia, and the United Kingdom before joining Fonterra in 2010. During Charles’ time at Fonterra, he initially worked in finance as Group Financial Planning Manager and GM Commercial, Global Brands & Nutrition before joining the Farm Source team in 2016.

Paul Mallard

Chief Operating Officer

Paul has a deep breadth of experience across multiple industries and roles. He has a track record for developing and growing partnerships in multiple fields including business transformation, performance delivery, FMCG and Business to Business sales and innovation, strategy development and implementation, partnership development, and major event management. Paul was previously General Manager Sales & Marketing Disruption Platforms at Fonterra. Paul spent 12 years with Fonterra in a variety of roles before joining Synlait in January 2023.

Naiche Nogueira

Chief Revenue Officer

Naiche is a seasoned business executive, with almost 20 years of international dairy industry experience. He has held various roles within the New Zealand and Australian dairy industries and brings a wealth of experience in developing and managing strategic business to business partnerships across Latin American, European, African, the Middle East and Asian markets.

Naiche was previously General Manager of Global Quick Service Restaurants, managing Fonterra’s partnerships with the world’s most recognised multinational restaurant brands, including McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Burger King, Domino’s, and others, before joining Synlait in January 2023 as Director of Advanced Nutrition. In April 2024 he become Synlait’s Chief Revenue Officer.

Abby Ye

President China and Director of Foodservice

Abby joined Synlait in March 2023.

Abby was Director of Marketing, APAC Retail & Food Service at SAVENCIA Group, based in Singapore. Abby has extensive experience working for food and beverage manufacturing companies holding senior marketing and product roles at New Brands and McCain Foods in China.
Abby is based in Shanghai, where she is originally from.

Cathy Gamlen

Director of People and Culture

Cathy is an experienced executive leader who joined Synlait in August 2023. Prior to Synlait, Cathy was the Chief People Officer for Indevin, NZ’s largest wine producer and manufacturer and held senior people leadership roles in Fonterra. With global experience, Cathy has worked in the hospitality, retail and primary industry sectors across private equity, co-operative and corporate organisations.

Robert Stowell

Chief Commercial Officer

Robert joined Synlait in 2007. He held several senior roles in the finance, business transformation and supply chain teams before being appointed General Manager, Supply Chain in 2017. He took on the role of CFO in May 2021, before moving to Chief Commercial Officer in April 2024. Prior to joining Synlait, Robert held senior finance positions in New Zealand and the UK at Duns Limited, Transport for London, PlaneStation Group, Royal Sun Alliance, and Liberty Syndicates. Robert was the recipient of a Prime Ministers scholarship in 2017 to study the Advanced Management Program at INSEAD in France and is a member of the Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, Robert also holds a Bachelor of Commerce in accounting and a Graduate Diploma in finance from the University of Otago.

Tim Carter

Dairyworks CEO and Director of Consumer

Tim Carter is the CEO of Dairyworks, which he joined in 2018. Synlait purchased Dairyworks in 2018 as part of its strategy to build a consumer dairy business. Tim now holds the joint role of Synlait Director of Consumer / Dairyworks CEO. He has over 20 years of experience in the FMCG and dairy sectors. Before Dairyworks, Tim spent most of his time at Fonterra, where he held senior roles, including Director, Sales Fonterra Brands NZ, Director, Sales Fonterra Australia, General Manager, Foodservice and Route Fonterra Brands, and General Manager, Sales Tip Top Ice Cream.

 

Our Board

Our Board of Directors are committed to building a world-class nutritional business and the enhancement of shareholder value. Find out more about them and their proven track record of dairy industry and governance experience.

George Adams

Independent Chair

George Adams was appointed as a Independent Director on 21 March 2024, and was appointed Synlait Chair on 1 May 2024.

George has outstanding commercial and governance experience with over 30 years of international business experience in the fast-moving consumer goods and telecommunications industries and an occupational health and safety background.

Before focussing on governance, George held a range of executive leadership positions. Notably he was, Managing Director of Coca-Cola Amatil New Zealand and Finance Director of British Telecom, Northern Ireland. George’s previous governance highlights include being Chair of Bell Tea & Coffee, Chair of the New Zealand Grocery Council and Occupational Health and Safety Board and a Director of Hellers Group and Tegel Foods.

Today, George is Chair of NZX-listed Bremworth Limited, Director of NZX-listed Arborgen, and Chair of the Business Leaders Health & Safety Forum.

Paul McGilvary

Independent Director

Paul joined the Synlait Board in January 2022.  He has extensive dairy sector experience and is currently Deputy Chair of AsureQuality, Chair of BVAQ Australia, and a Non-Executive Director of Waikato Milking Systems.

Paul previously held several executive roles including, CEO of Tatua Co-operative Dairy Company Limited, CEO of HortResearch, and Managing Director, Fonterra (Europe).

Paul Washer

Independent Director

Paul joined the board as a director in December 2022.

Paul is a senior executive with extensive experience
in planning and operations, finance, and information
technology. He is Chief Financial Officer for ASXlisted
Pact Group. Before this, Paul spent 17 years
with Fonterra. He was the Acting CFO of Fonterra
Co-Operative Group Limited for seven months before
moving to Shanghai as Chief Financial Officer of
Fonterra’s Greater China business, responsible for
Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan across the
Consumer, Foodservice, Ingredients and China farming
businesses.

Hon. Ruth Richardson

A professional company director, Ruth specialises in agribusiness, commercialising innovation and finance. Ruth joined the Synlait Group as the first independent Director in 2004.

Ruth was the Member of Parliament for Selwyn (Synlait’s local electorate) from 1981 – 1984 and later New Zealand’s Minister of Finance from 1990 to 1993.

Following her political career, Ruth established herself as a public policy consultant and accepted a range of corporate governance roles. Ruth is currently Chair of The New Zealand Merino Company and the Kula Fund Advisory Committee.

She is a Director of Synlait Milk Limited, Synlait Milk Finance Limited and the Bank of China (NZ).

Previous governance roles include Dairy Brands, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, SYFT Technologies Limited, Kiwinet and Wrightson Limited.

Ruth holds a Bachelor of Laws (with honours) from the University of Canterbury.

Sihang Yang (Edward)

Sihang was appointed a Director of Synlait Milk in August 2010.

With over 20 years of industry experience, he is Bright Dairy and Food Co.’s director of strategy and research and a director of several Bright Dairy subsidiaries.

Sihang previously worked for Heilongjiang Dairy Group as the Director of technology and subsequently as the director of quality assurance. He was later appointed the secretary-general of Heilongjiang Dairy Industry Association and a Director of China Dairy Industry Association.

Sihang is currently a Director of Synlait Milk Limited and Synlait Milk Finance Limited.

Sihang holds a Masters Degree in food science and engineering.

Zhu Yi (Julia)

Julia has expertise in investment consulting, financial advisory, and strategic planning. Julia began her career at KPMG Advisory (China) Limited before joining OCBC (China) Limited as Assistant Vice President of Global Investment Banking Division. Julia has held various leadership roles at Bright Food Group, including Investment Director and General Manager of numerous subsidiaries and functional divisions.

Tao Zhang

Zhang was appointed a Director of Synlait Milk in February 2024.

Tao Zhang is a Chinese Certified Public Accountant and an Australian Certified Public Accountant.

Before joining Bright Dairy, Tao has held various leadership finance roles at several companies, including the Manager of Shanghai Donghua Accounting Firm, the General Manager of Financial Department of Pengxin International Mining, the Financial Director of Shanghai Pengpo New Energy Development, and the Financial Director of InterChina Water Treatment.

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