Dame Leads Search for Globally-Minded Governors
28 July 2018
Dame Leads Search for Globally-Minded Governors of Our Largest Exporter
Former Reserve Bank Director and New Zealand Business Hall of Fame member, Dame Alison Paterson has been appointed Chair of the Panel tasked with helping our largest exporter, Fonterra find and elect qualified Directors for its Board.
This month, the farmer-owned Co-operative issued its annual call for candidates in its Farmer Director Elections. The Co-operative’s Board is comprised of four independent directors and seven ‘farmer directors’ elected from within its shareholder base. Each year it seeks to fill as many as three of the farmer seats through its unique election process.
Dame Alison explains that the Independent Selection Panel (ISP) she chairs with two of New Zealand business’ other premier leaders, John Spencer, CNZM and Tony Carter, is designed to serve both the aspiring director candidates, and the voting shareholders.
“The ISP provides candidates with a rigorous and totally independent assessment of their skills and experience against the attributes and skills required by the Board in any year.
“Just as importantly, we then provide Fonterra’s shareholders with independent and comprehensive information about the recommended candidates to help them decide who they vote for.”
The Panel’s search brief, which is sent to all shareholders, includes an assessment of the aggregated skills of the existing Board members and the skills that the Co-op is looking to build around the board table. This year’s brief has a focus on candidates with relevant strong governance experience and a global mind-set or experience – particularly in the consumer space.
Dame Alison believes that within its wider shareholder base, Fonterra has experienced governors with strong skill sets that fit the bill.
“In my experience, it’s important to first assess candidates on their personal attributes such as sound judgement, integrity, and in a Fonterra context, empathy with the Co-operative. Once satisfied from that perspective, you then look for skills that complement the Board’s existing skill set.
“For Fonterra, this year that means seeking out candidates with a level of strong governance experience appropriate for the Board of an organisation of Fonterra’s international scale and complexity.
“We’re also specifically looking for people with a deep understanding of financial and risk management, international issues, on the ground experience in the Co-operative’s key or emerging markets, and experience in retail or consumer goods companies with significant global brands.”
Dame Alison says that while it’s important that any director of Fonterra has an understanding and affinity with dairy farming, the ‘farmer director’ positions were open to anyone with an eligible ownership interest in a supplying shareholder, not just those directly working the farm.
Nomination Papers and Candidate Handbooks are available by phoning the Election Helpline on free phone 0800 666 034 or emailing the Returning Officer on firstname.lastname@example.org.