Bay gets benefit of global experience

By David Porter

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Professional director, Zoe Attwood.
Professional director, Zoe Attwood.

Good governance pays off in improved business performance and growth, creating increased wealth and employment, says Zoe Attwood.

Ms Attwood relocated back to the Bay of Plenty at the end of 2014 to spend more time with her elderly parents after a lengthy career in Australia focused around science and innovation in the dairy and food industries.

She has 18 years of governance expertise as a non-executive director, chairwoman and deputy chairwoman, serving with several government entities, private, listed and not-for-profit organisations in  Australia and New Zealand.

She also teaches governance at the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) and at the New Zealand Institute of Directors (IoD), where she is a member of the BOP branch committee.

"The IoD has a very important role to play right across New Zealand in supporting good governance," she said.

"Particularly for us in the Bay where there are so many small companies, not-for-profits and trusts that really need support, networking and education to achieve good governance."

The IoD's professional development manager Helena Gibson said Ms Attwood was  good to work with.

"The thing that really attracted us was that she has a broad range of experience in a range of industries that are more science-based," she said.

"And having some overseas experience is really useful in terms of our audience being exposed to a variety of stories from different perspectives. 

"She's also an experienced facilitator so it's fantastic to have someone who's an experienced director and has facilitation skills. She gets incredibly good evaluations from our participants, so we're really enjoying working with her."

Ms Attwood migrated to New Zealand from England with her parents in 1982. 

She was 19 and had been studying to be a pharmacist, but discovered it wasn't the job for her and  joined her parents.

The family set up in Huntly, where her parents got jobs at the power station and Ms Attwood studied science and got an MBA at Waikato University while working for Corbans Wines in its laboratory.

She moved to the Bay of Plenty, joined Fletcher Challenge Forests in 1994 and two years later began working for Bay Milk Products NZ, later NZ Dairy Group (Anchor Products).

There she began to specialise in manufacturing and marketing dairy-based food ingredients and consumer products to domestic and international markets.

During the next two decades she became an expert in dairy ingredient functionality and powder technology.

In 1999 she was recruited as R&D manager in Melbourne for Bonlac Foods (later taken over by Fonterra), going on to become Bonlac's business manager, innovation and technology.

She then joined Dairy Australia (previously Dairy Research and Development Corporation), as portfolio manager - manufacturing innovation, where she was responsible for improving the competitiveness and sustain-ability of the Australian dairy industry through a focus on the manufacturing sector.

"My career has really been based around science and innovation," said Ms Attwood.

For a couple of years she ran her own consultancy, which carried out projects including the development of commercialisation business plans for a fibre technology, micro-milling technologies, and high-pressure food processing for the horticulture industry in Australia.

She also developed a strategic plan including the development of a range of dairy-based health and nutrition products.

In 2006 she joined Owens-Illinois, the global glass packaging business, as Asia Pacific innovation and new product development manager, then as the company's inaugural global new product development director.

She stayed with the company until 2011, when she began to work fulltime as a professional director and governance facilitator and teacher.

At the end of 2014, with three long-term Australian board roles soon due for renewal, she felt the timing was right to shift to New Zealand, although she spent most of last year commuting to Australia to fulfil governance teaching obligations on behalf of the AICD and completing her board commitments.

Ms Attwood is now focusing on her roles as a facilitator and course reviewer for the IoD in New Zealand and looking to identify New Zealand board opportunities.

"I always intended to come back to the Bay, and I had the ultimate pull of family with my parents in the Bay.  And apart from that it's the best place in the world to live."

Zoe Attwood
Role: Professional director, governance expert
Born: Stockport, England
Age: 52
First job: Pharmacy technician

- Bay of Plenty Times

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