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Director Elections



Each year Dairy Australia conducts a search for persons who are suitably skilled for nomination for election to the Board at its Annual General Meeting (AGM). The selection process is overseen by a Board Selection Committee (BSC), which recommends candidates for endorsement by the Board.

This process ensures that candidates are rigorously assessed against the skills needed for a Director position and that an open and transparent application process is followed.

Professional recruitment support is engaged to assist the BSC to identify qualified candidates for non-Milk Producer Director positions who have the appropriate skills, experience and outlook required for this position.

Board Composition and Board Committees

Dairy Australia’s Board comprises eight non-executive directors and the Managing Director. The Board provides oversight of the organisation and ensures the dairy levy is invested in programs that support the profitability and sustainability of dairy farmers. A Board Skills Matrix specifies the mix of skills required by Directors and is a requirement of Dairy Australia’s funding agreement with the Commonwealth Government. Dairy Australia’s Constitution requires that:

  • the Board as a whole has an appropriate balance of skills and experience, having regard to the nature of the business and affairs of the company
  • the Board has at least four directors with milk producer skills
  • the Directors rotate with either two or three directors retiring each year, so that no director serves longer than three years without having to present themselves for re-election. Directors cannot serve for more than three consecutive terms (i.e. nine years in total).

The Board has three standing committees that assist it in discharging its responsibilities: an Audit and Risk Management Committee and a Human Resources Committee (both comprised of Dairy Australia Directors), and a Board Selection Committee (four of its five members are appointed by industry).

Directors are required to understand the responsibilities and obligations of company directors, possess general commercial and financial literacy and are expected to act with integrity, honesty and in a collaborative manner.

Applications have opened for three Director vacancies on Dairy Australia’s Board ahead of elections at the 2021 AGM in November:

  • Two Directors with milk producer skills.
  • One Director with dairy supply chain and product promotion skills.

The terms of two serving Directors expire this year and another Director has retired. Current Directors James Mann (who serves as Chair of Dairy Australia) and David Lord have indicated they will stand for re-election, while Graeme Nicoll (who is serving in an interim capacity following the retirement of Jeff Odgers) will not stand for re-election.

Board selection process

The Board is assisted in its search for suitable Director candidates by the BSC. This is a standing committee appointed for a 12-month period.  It has five members comprising two representatives of each of Dairy Australia’s Group B Members (Australian Dairy Farmers and the Australian Dairy Products Federation), representing the Australian dairy industry, and the Chair of the BSC who is a Dairy Australia Director (not standing for re-election).

The BSC’s role is to identify and nominate candidates who will ensure that the Board collectively has an appropriate balance of skills and experience in relation to the nature of the business and affairs of Dairy Australia.

After assessing the applications received and interviewing candidates, the BSC recommends one candidate for each Director vacancy for endorsement by the Board. Endorsed candidates then stand for election at the AGM as Dairy Australia Board nominees.

In 2021, the BSC was assisted by:

  • a pre-selection committee made up of milk producer members whose role included identifying applicants for the directors with milk-producer skills
  • an executive search consultant (Rimfire Resources) to source applicants for the dairy supply chain and product promotion vacancy.

This process has now completed and the BSC has recommended candidates to the Board for its endorsement.

Board-endorsed nominees

Three industry-selected, Board-endorsed nominees will stand for election at Dairy Australia’s 2021 Annual General Meeting (AGM) to be held in November.

Directors with milk producing skills:

James Mann currently Chair of the Dairy Australia Board is standing for a third term. James has been dairy farming for more than 30 years, and has extensive experience in all aspects of dairy farming, having successfully built Donovans Dairying from a green-field site in 1998 to one of Australia’s largest dairy farm businesses. He has proven experience in adopting new technology on farm and managing an engaged workforce to improve profitability and productivity. He has extensive involvement in industry groups and has held Chair positions for over 15 years.

Simone Jolliffe has extensive experience in both governance and dairy farming. This includes senior director roles within the dairy industry including Chair of Australian Dairy Farmers, Director of Data Gene and Chair of the Herd Improvement Industry Strategic Steering Group. She is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) and Australian Rural Leadership Program. Simone has grown up in agriculture and has more than twenty years of experience in dairy farming in southern NSW. She is also a current member of the Australian Dairy Sustainability Framework Steering Committee.

Director with dairy supply chain and product promotion skills:

Russell Abotomey has more than thirty years experience in the agricultural sector, with more than twenty years in the dairy industry, both in Australia and internationally. He has held senior executive roles in supply chain and product promotion with Murray Goulburn Co-operative and Fonterra Co-operative Group. Russell has strong financial experience and held non-executive director roles at Australian Sugar Milling Council and the MG - Danone Australia Joint Venture. He has a Bachelor of Business Degree from Swinburne University and completed the Agribusiness Leadership Program at Harvard Business School.

Time commitment required of Dairy Australia Board Directors

The time commitment is approximately 20 - 25 days a year. The Board meets every month, usually at Dairy Australia’s offices in Melbourne. Some meetings may be held at regional locations or hosted online via web conference. In addition, each Director is expected to sit on one of the Board Committees, each of which usually meets three to four times per year. Directors will also be expected to make regional visits and attend industry events. Whenever possible, Committee meetings and regional events are scheduled to coincide with Board meetings.

Director Vacancies - How to Apply

The Board has endorsed nominations for each of the three vacant positions to be elected at the 2021 Annual General Meeting in November.

A candidate may also stand for election if their nomination is supported by 100 Group A members of Dairy Australia. Applications submitted via this method must be received by 13 August 2021 in accordance with Dairy Australia’s Constitution:

  • A nomination form specifying your skills and experience relevant to the business and affairs of Dairy Australia (please email membership@dairyaustralia.com.au to request a nomination form).
  • Signatures of at least 100 Group A members.

The BSC will determine the most appropriate Board-nominated candidate whom the Group A member-nominated candidate will stand against at the AGM.

Further information regarding Dairy Australia

For further information, please refer to the:

For all other general enquiries please contact membership@dairyaustralia.com.au or phone 1800 004 377.

2021 Director vacancy position descriptions


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