Meat Business chairwoman elected

Beef + Lamb New Zealand general manager Ashley Gray was elected inaugural chairwoman of the New Zealand chapter of Meat Business Women in Napier recently. Photo: BLNZ
Beef + Lamb New Zealand general manager Ashley Gray was elected inaugural chairwoman of the New Zealand chapter of Meat Business Women in Napier recently. Photo: BLNZ
A group of women who work in the meat industry, including some from Otago and Southland, formed the New Zealand chapter of Meat Business Women in Napier recently and there are plans to start regional groups as well.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (BLNZ general manager Ashley Gray said the inaugural meeting was held as part of the retail meat conference and about 70 women from throughout the country attended.

''I was predicting we would get about 20 women coming, who were already registered at the conference.''

However, she said they had an additional 50 there who were not attending the conference, but who wanted to go to the Meat Business Women meeting.

Ms Gray was elected chairwoman.

''There is so much passion in the industry,'' Ms Gray said.

''A whole lot more people were really interested and had signed up to be involved.

''They are from the meat sectors - from farmers, industry bodies, science, processors, education - all across the whole supply chain,''

She said similar groups had been established in the United Kingdom and in Australia.

The overseas groups meet to hear speakers, attend workshops that looked at industry issues, take part in mentoring as well as providing networking opportunities.

There was a potential for introducing awards to celebrate successes.

''I was overwhelmed by the level of interest.''

People came from throughout the country, including several from Otago and Southland.

''That showed the level of engagement and commitment people have for it.

''With social media there is the opportunity for us to stay in touch at a national level.

''I think one of the key things from the meeting was the idea of setting up regional meat groups, which would have regular networking events for members to start building stronger relationships.''

The new Meat Business Women committee will collate feedback from the meeting, then develop an action plan for future meetings and events and put together a database of members.

''We will look at additional events towards the end of the year,'' she said.

She said Australia would be holding a Meat Business Women event in October and it was possible they might take a delegation to it.

Meat Business Women's main objectives included developing the image of the meat industry to attract more female talent and to nurture women through the sector and skilfully improve networking.

''If we want a thriving industry, change needs to happen quickly through innovation, cultural shifts, challenging perceptions and a whole new approach to how we think about our sector.

''Bringing women together to tackle just that - there's huge opportunity,'' she said.

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