Our People

The FarmRight Team

Our FarmRight team is knowledgeable, down-to-earth, and hardworking. We have a solid foundation of agribusiness experience and focus on taking a sustainable, long-term view. Our team are not just colleagues; they’re also good humans. They tackle challenges head-on together and resolve issues with openness, always ready to roll up their sleeves. It’s not just about the job; it’s about the people, the dedication, and a shared commitment to making a difference.

Executive Team

Team Jim Lee

“My passion is driving excellence for everyone involved in FarmRight. Dollars and cents matter a lot in our business, but success comes from the relationships. The actual satisfaction success brings is what it does for the people and for the land. The achievement is what we have done for the people and the land, and we have done it together.”

Jim Lee

Chief Executive

Jim is a seasoned Chief Executive with a background in agribusiness investment management, banking and finance.

He has a track record of exceeding shareholder expectations and delivering positive outcomes for all stakeholders. Recognised as an astute strategic thinker and a collaborative and empathetic leader with a strong values base, Jim has fostered and guided the harmonious team environment at FarmRight, underscoring his commitment to inspiring achievement in others.

Jim is experienced in supporting boards and management with a practical, outcomes-driven approach. As a down-to-earth leader, he influences, supports and challenges in a respectful manner, building lasting productive relationships.

Team Gavin Tayles

“For me, it’s a team approach, we work collectively to achieve and my role is enabling people within the team. It is the people who make it happen.”

Gavin Tayles

Chief Operating Officer

Farming and FarmRight go hand in hand for Gavin. Born and bred on the family farm in Southland, he’s always had a passion for farming.

With time spent farming, followed by study at Lincoln University, Gavin joined us in 2000 straight out of university, and he’s been here even since. In the early days he was still actively involved in his family farm, and joined FarmRight in a more technical/practical role, progressing through the business.

“I came in to FarmRight at consultancy level and moved through to investment manager and portfolio leader, then Chief Operating Officer. I realised the challenge and excitement, for me, is working with the people. That challenge and enjoyment of being part of a team is the bit that gets me out of bed every day.”

As COO, Gavin has responsibility for the outcomes of all the farming operations across the company, and the acquisitions team. With significant farming assets, his focus is helping, supporting and enabling our team to execute deliverables. Gavin takes pride in the team environment at FarmRight, working together to achieve success.

Team Mark Paul

“FarmRight’s service offering is unique within the agriculture industry, and it has significant aspirational goals for growth. I wanted to be part of that journey. This, along with FarmRight’s culture and opportunities for professional development, has kept me with the company for five and a half years now.”

Mark Paul

Chief Financial Officer

When Mark joined FarmRight as Chief Financial Officer in 2018 he brought with him broad experience in senior finance roles, across a range of sectors.

Cutting his teeth with PwC, one of the big four accounting firms, he went on to hold senior finance roles with a number of organisations. These include AMI Insurance, the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA), which was established to lead and coordinate the Government’s response and recovery efforts following the Canterbury earthquakes, and Otakaro (now Rau Paenga), the Government company that delivers infrastructure to support the post-quake regeneration of central Christchurch.

As well as being a finance professional, Mark has gained extensive leadership experience and exposure over many years to aspects of the wider Corporate Services function, including risk management, audit, investment management, and IT.

As CFO at FarmRight, Mark is responsible for leading our finance, risk, IT and data functions.

With no previous experience in the agriculture sector, Mark saw the move to FarmRight as a new challenge in his career, recognising that agriculture is the backbone of the New Zealand economy.

Team Apolline Komene

“I’m focused on improving the working environment by removing waste. I’m also looking for opportunities to make things more engaging, help people find their purpose, live their values, and how they can bring that into the workplace. My philosophy is, the truer people are in their work, the more value they will bring to the job.”

Apolline Komene

Operational Excellence Leader

People are our success, and for Apolline, a career centred around people has been the focus. She brings the ability to problem solve and approach situations from an analytical perspective – constantly striving to do things ‘better’.

With a background as a legal secretary and in retail banking, after having children she gained a degree in Agri Commerce, majoring in International Business, from Massey University. She chose to minor in Human Resources, knowing people were her passion.

Apolline has had a long association with FarmRight, from grassroots through to corporate, living on a farm her husband managed for FarmRight from 2012 through to becoming part of the corporate team just over two years ago. She has grown her expertise and skillset, particularly in lean management, alongside FarmRights Operational Excellence growth and strategy.

She thrives on making continuous improvements in the workplace, big or small, and aims to leave each day knowing the company is moving forward.

Team Desiree Barnes

“I want people to feel safe, have fun, have opportunity and to thrive. Farming can be a lonely occupation and our people know they have that support and backstop to turn to. We are building a community and we are there for them.”

Desiree Barnes

Manager People, Safety and Culture

Joining FarmRight represented coming full circle for Desiree, who grew up on a sheep and deer farm but always knew she didn’t practically want to be a farmer. People are her passion, and she’s made her career from harnessing the potential in people and ensuring they feel valued in their work.

Desiree spent 13 years in the military, where she met her husband Robert, taking on a leadership role in recruitment. After having a family, she decided to take the leap into people management and studied towards a business degree in human resources development and strategic management.

She then spent two years working in the high voltage industry, followed by ten years in construction following the Christchurch earthquake, honing her skills in Health and Safety along the way.

“I did a full circle coming to FarmRight five years ago, my grass roots are farming and I understand farming because that’s where I started. I realised early on I like to take learning opportunities when I can, not just for myself, but for people around me. I like to lead but I also like to see people develop, strive to be their best and give them opportunities to do that.”

She sees people as key to FarmRight, and looking after their wellbeing is crucial to success. Building a bridge between corporate and farming is an important part of this, so there is an understanding of daily life on farm, the highs and the lows.

Team Ed Tapp

“FarmRight has invested in my development, and I have been able to rapidly develop in various FarmRight roles through dedication and a drive for challenge. These roles have given me experience in leadership, coaching, strategy development, health and safety and financial management.”

Ed Tapp

General Manager NZSF Portfolio

He may not have a farming background, but Ed has always had a passion for the New Zealand agriculture industry.

Ed went through Lincoln University on a DairyNZ scholarship, which was designed to encourage young people into the dairy industry.  In 2007 he joined FarmRight as a bonded trainee consultant and was placed on a farm for a year. This was a win for Ed, who gained valuable practical experience while spending time each month with FarmRight Consultants learning the ropes.

Over his 15 years at FarmRight, Ed has progressed from a trainee consultant to a senior leader within a growing company. His current roles are General Manager of the NZ Super Fund (NZSF) Rural Portfolio (dairy, horticulture and beef), Executive Team Member and FarmRight Director.

In his role as General Manager of the NZSF Rural Portfolio, Ed contributes to the development of strategic and significant operational plans, leading the successful execution of these.

Team Julia Gieraths

“Sustainability an integral part of FarmRight, with the goal to drive and lead change in sustainable agriculture. We can lead sustainable food production in a way that benefits people, environment and communities, all while delivering a strong financial performance. This creates long-term value for our investors, stakeholders, people and society.”

Julia Gieraths

Sustainability Leader

As sustainability leader for FarmRight, Julia’s goal is to support New Zealand and FarmRight’s journey of sustainably producing food, all while caring for our environment, people and communities.

Born and bred in Germany, Julia moved to New Zealand in 2015, discovering a strong passion for agriculture and completing a range of qualifications, including nutrient management, greenhouse gas emissions and dairy production management. She also spent two and a half years working on a dairy goat farm.

Julia brings an international background, having spent her career in business law and finance in Germany and New York, working for a number of large corporates, prior to relocating to New Zealand and shifting her focus to agriculture.

She joined FarmRight in 2017 as Farm Investment Support and in 2021 moved into the sustainability role with a desire to embrace and be part of the change and implantation of sustainable food production. She saw it as an opportunity to make a significant difference and contribution to reshape the industry, to become resilient for future changes.

Alongside her sustainability focus, Julia hopes to highlight the importance of agriculture for New Zealand, and for future generations.

Directors

Directors Albert Brantley

“FarmRight is a leader in farming best practice with great internal values that delivers great outcomes for its employees, farm investors and shareholders, and I am proud to serve as their Chair.”

Albert Brantley

Chair, Independent Director

Trained as an engineer and geologist, over the past 45 years Albert has lead the construction and operation of large-scale oil and gas, mining and utility assets throughout the world. Until August 2018 he was the Chief Executive of Ōtākaro Limited, the Crown Company responsible for the Anchor Project programme for central Christchurch, and was the Chief Executive of Genesis Energy for eight years before that. In New Zealand, he has held similar executive roles for OceanaGold Ltd and L&M Mining Ltd.

Most of Albert’s experience has required senior level political, regulatory and environmental management, as well as multicultural community and stakeholder relations management.

A Charted Fellow of the Institute of Directors, Albert has provided Board level governance for the past 25 years, and is presently the Independent Chair of the HW Richardson Group and Leighs Construction Limited, as well as FarmRight Ltd. He is also a Director of Ballance Agri-Nutrients, the Energy and Electricity Conservation Authority, Westpower and the LGNZ Independent Assessment Board. 

A Canadian, Albert is married to a New Zealander and has been a resident of Canterbury for more than 35 years, although working overseas for much of that time.

Due to its importance to his adopted homeland, Albert has a long-held interest and participation in New Zealand’s primary production sector through past and present governance roles, covering production and distribution of primary inputs, irrigation development and transport services.

Directors Simon Flood

“My experience in working with sophisticated, institutional wholesale clients complements the work that FarmRight has done to date, it’s a great fit.”

Simon Flood

Independent Director

As a FarmRight Independent Director, Simon brings a wealth of experience, business leadership and a global perspective on the investment management industry.

He has held a variety of senior investment management and business leadership roles in London, Hong Kong and Singapore and, since returning to New Zealand in 2015, he has been appointed to several governance positions across a variety of sectors.

A fund manager by training, Simon’s background of engagement at senior level in global asset management businesses has great synergies for FarmRight. He brings fund management skills at an analytical level, coupled with a deep understanding of how asset management businesses work.

Directors Tony Cleland

“The most exciting part of my career has been helping grow leaders who are achieving their goals within the business.”

Tony Cleland

Shareholder Director

Tony has a long history of involvement in the primary sectors in New Zealand, starting out at grass roots as a traditional farm worker and progressing through the ranks to farm ownership and into the corporate sector. As a co-founder of FarmRight, Tony has been part of our journey from the start.

Beginning his career as farm worker, Tony progressed to sharemilker and then farm ownership, purchasing his first farm in Southland at 25-years-old.

Along with his wife, Alison, Tony grew this farming business and has a number of farm investments in Southland. The couple own and are actively involved in Carrick winery, a 32-hectare vineyard, restaurant, winery and cellar door in Central Otago.

He was a co-founder of Farmright in 2000 and has been a director ever since, still working in the business. As well, Tony is a shareholder in Southern Sky Dairies Ltd (SSDL), a large client of FarmRight, with 10 farms.

Tony was a director of FMG insurance mutual for 16 years and Chair for six years, retiring from this role in August 2023.

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