Story telling coming of age focus of Dairy Women’s Network AGM

31 October 2019

A story telling coming of age was a focus of the Dairy Women’s Network AGM held in Hamilton today.

“The Dairy Women’s Network story started 21 years ago, and the journey has been one of celebration and also of challenging times,” Dairy Women’s Network CEO Jules Benton said.

Jules Benton, Dairy Women’s Network CEO

“After 21 years we have truly come of age and we realise the future will still have its tougher times but we believe that sharing stories as a key strategy will create deeper engagement with our members, the dairy industry and ultimately New Zealand, as we look to support and inspire each other.  There is strength in support as the industry will be truly seen for its passion, commitment and as world leading food producers.”

Benton said the Dairy Women’s Network wanted to attract, retain and inspire the next generation, stressing it was very much a team effort.

“We should be proud of owning our own stories, as they are authentic and capture the heart of who we are. For some, storytelling will provide hope and inspiration.”

Looking to create deep emotional connections is the drive behind the Dairy Women’s Network launch of its visual story telling project, OUR PEOPLE. THEIR STORIES that has seen two stories launched and very well received.

AGM attendees also heard from DairyNZ CEO Dr Tim Mackle who praised the “terrific story telling efforts” of the Dairy Women’s Network. “Feeling good about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it is so important,” he said.

“Farmers story telling is powerful. It connects people with people to gain more understanding and the efforts of the Dairy Women’s Network is helping connect dairy to the people of New Zealand.”

“I see the Dairy Women’s Network playing a key role in creating more confidence to see a positive future and achieve greater certainty as we all look to support each other to get over the next hill to our long term goals.”

Tim Mackle, DairyNZ CEO

Mackle said that the Dairy Tomorrow strategy was vital in formulating what our dairy industry will look like in the future, stressing the importance of crafting the industry’s story to gain more understanding and tolerance.

“We need to craft our future story and then deliver on it,” he said. “We have to deliver results on the issues Kiwi’s care about.”

In her chair report, Cathy Brown reflected on a very full year of delivering knowledge and connection to Dairy Women’s Network members.

“Real and relevant learning is essential for our busy members and this was evident in the attendance of several of our modules” she said.

Cathy Brown, Dairy Women’s Network Board Chair

She also paid tribute to the network’s stable portfolio of partners that continue to work alongside the Dairy Women’s Network to “ensure we are enabling transformational change in Agribusiness.”

“As a strategic partner in the Dairy Tomorrow strategy we have ensured that our members are aware of the importance of this work, and how it aligns with our strategic direction, vision, purpose and values as well,” she said.

After 10 rewarding years on the Trust Board Brown she said she was looking forward to seeing the contributions of new board members Sophie Stanley and Regional Leader Representative Abbi Ayre.

“I would like to extend a huge thank you to my fellow trustees, all of who lead full lives and yet are prepared to volunteer your time to progress Dairy Women’s Network. There’s no doubt it’s the people that make a difference.”

The AGM kicked off with an upbeat visual showcase of the network’s key activities over the last 12 months featuring footage from it’s World Milk Day initiative with Waikato Women’s Rugby that went global, the annual conference and it’s OUR PEOPLE. THEIR STORIES project.

“We are all about empowering farm businesses to thrive with knowledge and connection and in turn celebrating dairy women in New Zealand,” Benton said. “And this story telling focus links to that and runs deep through all elements of our marketing communications and media activities.”

She said the network was is in a very solid position for the future to continue to support its members, recording an end-of-year profit of $47,173.

“There are endless opportunities for the Dairy Women’s Network.  As a network we punch way above our weight, and we will lead, create future leaders, inspire and share our stories. We’re all incredibly excited about the future and the opportunities ahead for the network, our members, our partners and the industry.”

May 2020 will see Dairy Women’s Network host its annual conference in Hamilton sponsored by Allflex with the theme of “Make It Matter” that Benton said represents all aspects of our member’s lives from a personal, professional, business and community perspective.

“We’re really excited to be bringing DWN2020 to the Waikato next year. We know every member has a story, a journey and a future and we want to celebrate and share those stories, ultimately, Our People. Their Stories.”

Benton paid tribute to her head office team, the network’s new Hub Leaders and its 75 Regional Leaders throughout the country that she said “make a positive difference to our members, communities and to the dairy industry every single day.”

She also thanked the network’s partners, stressing how integral they all were to enable the Dairy Women’s Network to continue to support its members and the dairy industry.

“Through their support both from a financial and collaborative perspective our founding partner DairyNZ have enabled us to grow and develop better employers, employees, farm businesses, connected communities, current and future leaders and ultimately contribute to a better New Zealand.”

Benton acknowledged ASB for “stepping up to the plate” and sharing a cleverly crafted response based on fact and not Hollywood fiction to a well-known film director and Ballance Agri-Nutrients for pointing out the dairy industry needs some Arohanui at the DWN19 Conference in Christchurch.

She thanked Fonterra for its continued support and investment in future dairy industry leaders as the sponsor of the Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year which is one of our highlights for network members and the industry, and welcomed new partner, NZ CA Limited, a group of chartered accounting firms comprising of 30 member firms with a strong focus and commitment to supporting their Agri clients throughout New Zealand.

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