For any organisation to succeed, its members must truly believe that they are investing in something worthwhile. To Natalie Collard, outgoing CEO of Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF), there is no cause more worthy than that of the Aussie dairy farmer.
“My career in dairy was very deliberate,” Ms Collard said. “I was convinced that dairy could be the next economic boom for Australia – it was already in 97 per cent of Australian homes – Coca Cola can only dream of such consumer cut through!”
While Ms Collard wasn’t born into dairy, she quickly developed an appreciation for the resilient and humble people who worked to put their products on the kitchen table.
“Without their generosity in sharing their knowledge, there is no way I could‘ve succeeded in my position.”
Believing in the importance of a unified, commodity-based representation, Ms Collard joined ADF in 2008 with a view to help dairy become more sustainable.
General Manager of Shareholder Relations at Murray Goulburn, Robert Poole noted the challenging time in which Ms Collard took over the role of CEO at ADF in 2011. Mr Poole, also Deputy Chair of the Australian Dairy Industry Council (ADIC) said the organisation was in need of stabilised financial and governance procedures, as well as stronger industry ties and improved policy.
“Natalie was not deterred by these hurdles,” Mr Poole said. “She always maintained her professionalism and drive toward improving ADF and the ADIC, and therefore outcomes for farmers.”
Chair of the NSW Farmers Dairy Committee, Robert McIntosh said Ms Collard had shown true leadership, always acting nationally and ensuring that all perspectives were heard and acknowledged.
“Under Natalie’s leadership, the state dairy farming organisations now feel as though they are valued members of the national network,” Mr McIntosh said. “Our interests are now recognised on a national level.”
Mr McIntosh said the ADF National Dairy Farmers’ Summit, held in March 2014, had a substantial influence on the strategies and policies of the industry, and was a true testament to the renewed focus and vision that Ms Collard brought.
With Ms Collard at the helm, ADF fought hard for farmers on key issues including $1 per litre milk and achieved milestones, such as the positive dairy outcome at the conclusion of the China-Australia free trade agreement.
As a firm believer in positive change, Ms Collard said she is confident it was the right time to look for the next challenge.
“It has been an honour to represent the proud and passionate people of dairy, and I am keen to see them prosper,” Ms Collard said. “I am confident ADF is in a strong position going forward, and that I can now step into a new horizon and seek out my next challenge.”