Zelda de Villiers will step down from her role as CEO of Dairy Women's Network (DWN) in May 2018.

The organisation will look to recruit a new chief executive in February.

Dairy Women's Network chairwoman Cathy Brown says de Villiers' commercial and financial expertise has led the not-for-profit organisation into a strong position.

"On behalf of the Dairy Women's Network board I'd like to thank Zelda for her leadership over the past four years, and we wish her every success in the future.


"Under her direction, the organisation has solidified its systems, structures and reputation in the industry. We've also grown our membership significantly during her tenure.

"Most importantly, Zelda has recruited and developed a strong team of staff and volunteers who will continue to provide the high level of support our members have come to expect from us."

Brown says it's also a sensible time to reflect on the network's success so far and think about what's needed to take it into the future.

De Villiers was appointed CEO in 2014 having spent more than 20 years in various roles in the agricultural industry, including managing director of DeLaval NZ Ltd and several rural banking and finance roles in South Africa. She leaves the network to focus on a new business venture in Northland.

She says her journey as CEO has been inspiring and humbling, and she has no doubt DWN will attract many worthy candidates for the chief executive role.

"It has been a humbling and inspiring journey to lead an organisation that recognises and supports the contribution women make every day not only to the businesses they work in, but also to rural communities throughout New Zealand."

She says highlights during her leadership of DWN include cementing strategic partnerships with agribusinesses and national farming representative body DairyNZ, and overseeing the growth in membership from 5000 to more than 10,000.

She says the network's 90 volunteer regional leaders have also helped increase DWN's professionalism and relevance in the industry.

"I've thoroughly enjoyed seeing dairy farmers, volunteer groups and rural communities benefit from DWN's various partnerships with industry.''