Jessie Chan – Impact Story

Jessie Chan, MNZM – 2012 Kellogg Scholar.

Among her many accolades, Jessie became a member of the NZ Order of Merit for services to dairy and agriculture in 2022. Jessie was the recipient of Canterbury’s Institute of Directors aspiring director award in 2014 and was Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year in 2017.

A respected leader in the dairy industry, Jessie is a director on boards including, NZ Pork, AgResearch, and AgriZero, and has served in the past on boards such as Ngai Tahu Farming, RuralCo and Alpine Energy.  

Always interested in science, Jessie’s first role at the age of 17, was in Palmerston North’s Fonterra research lab, where she was exposed to product development.

University came soon after with study toward an animal science degree – graduating with honours.

After four years study Jessie went to Wellington where she held various primary sector roles, eventually heading a Federated Farmers’ policy team.

Marrying and moving to Canterbury, Jessie, and her then husband, took a share-milking job just south of the Rakaia River. Eventually they took over the lease and grew their herd from 750 to 1700 cows.

Jessie is now an equity partner with friends in her own dairy farm at Springston in Canterbury, an arrangement that works in well with her directorships.

Having held many senior sector leadership roles and understanding well the hard work required on the path to farm ownership, Jessie believes farming must adapt to meet challenges like environmental and climate change.

Jessie believes many of the answers will come from science, and to this end serves on the board of AgResearch and AgriZero. AgriZero support science-based solutions to some of the sector’s, and the world’s, trickiest challenges.

AgriZero is world-first partnership between agribusiness and the government and aims to reduce agricultural emissions 30% by 2030. A recent investment by AgriZero has been to build more methane chambers where a product’s effectiveness in reducing a cows’ methane output can be measured. 

Jessie continues to apply science and entrepreneurship to Primary Sector challenges – along with her own enthusiasm, a lead-by-example style, and a long-held passion for science, for her industry and for the sector.

Jessie takes this quote she made in a recent Farmers Weekly article, “Let’s keep combining that science piece with that entrepreneur piece that goes, actually we can take that science and apply it on – farm this way and get a really good outcome’, I think we all want to move forward and do better for the land.”

We look forward to seeing the positive impact Jessie has made continue to influence change in dairy and the food and fibre sector.

Our programmes work in partnership with some of New Zealand’s leading agribusiness organisations – click here for more.​