Wednesday, 29 November 2017 12:55

DWN adapting to change

Written by  Pam Tipa
DWN chair Cathy Brown. DWN chair Cathy Brown.

The saying that ‘change is the only constant in life’ is true for the dairy industry and standing still is not an option, chair Cathy Brown told the Dairy Womens Network (DWN) annual meeting.

In this fast-paced world with massive amounts of information at our fingertips we need to “understand what is important,” she said. “Not only in our own lives but in the dairy industry where as farmers we live, work and play.

“It is important for the organisations that support and provide leadership for the industry to sort through the noise and understand what is important.

“We will need new skills, we will need an attitude to embrace the change, we will need to find new ways of working together. But we know people are a very important part of the equation.

“Here at DWN we will work with our partners to support people to adapt to that change.”

She says DWN has taken a fresh look at its strategy and values. It has asked membership what is important to them and worked with the industry to help review the Dairy Industry Strategy.

Chief executive Zelda de Villiers says membership stands at 10,020. They increased events in the past year to 240 from 210 in the previous year. The modules organised with partners or DairyNZ on capability and skills increased from 84 to 131.

“We realised it is an industry under pressure and we have run more events but often smaller, connection-based events. There were more events which enable women to connect with each other and relax a bit.”

They realise people connect in different ways.

“Some people come to events, some people connect on Facebook, some connect with others by getting support from them,” de Villiers told Dairy News.

“Our purpose is unlimited opportunities for women in dairy. There is a small shift from the past: the past was very much about dairy farming women, now it is for women in dairy. So we recognise rural professionals and everybody in the industry as part of the dairy industry. It is also about unlimited opportunities so with different people an opportunity is different.

“Everybody’s journey is different; opportunities for them or what they are aiming for are different and we are able to provide everything for everybody because we are an all-inclusive and all-encompassing organisation.”

Because they are a grassroots organisation, regional leaders (formerly regional group convenors) came up with the proposed values and those were evaluated by a sub-group of regional leaders.

Referring to speakers at the annual meeting, De Villiers says Mark Payne, strategist and investment leader for people and business at DairyNZ -- who has always promoted DWN and knows the organisation well – told how the organisation is strong in leadership and partnerships.

Wendy Morgan, a nutritionist and quality manager at Seales Winslow who presents calf rearing days, told how DWN has developed.

Morgan said from the outside looking in, DWN has appeared to have strong internal leadership offering freedom within a framework. It has a clearly defined framework and objectives but empowers members and develops leaders to move forward in their own way within it.

The Dairy Woman of the Year, Jesse Chan Dorman, gave a powerful presentation on her leadership journey. She shared a lot about her personal journey. Her father was a strong role model and this was a big influence on the success of family members.

Katrina Thomas, DWN dairy community leadership award winner, spoke about her role as a regional and hub leader and being on the conference committee, seeing how the values in DWN came through every day.

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