A familiar face at the DINZ executive helm

Jun 21, 2024

“Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) has appointed Rhys Griffiths interim chief executive after the previously selected candidate was unable to take up the role because of changed family circumstances, “for reasons we respect,” he says.

Rhys Griffiths, has been acting as interim DINZ chief executive from 10 June.

Making the announcement at the end of May, DINZ chair Mandy Bell said the Board made the decision, “to support the organisation through the short-term and maintain momentum in implementing our industry strategy.”

Griffiths, who took up the role on 10 June, says, “time has flown by,” for him since he first joined the deer industry body in 2008 as velvet marketing services manager. Then he was aged 39 and fresh from a role working with his father’s large commodity importing company bringing in agricultural products from Asia.

Before that, and after 10 “wonderful years” as an animal health products marketing manager with MSD’s precursor Schering-Plough, where he’d had some “tremendous successes” with its dairy portfolio, he was “strongly tempted” to take a job with an animal health company in New Jersey. However, “as a good Kiwi boy” and father with wife Toni of two small boys at the time, he turned it down in favour of staying here in New Zealand.

Already well-known and respected in the velvet sector for his enthusiastic and cheerful approach to every project he takes on, last year’s DINZ office restructure, saw him become overall markets manager with responsibility for the marketing of both velvet and venison products worldwide.

For Griffiths, it’s the people in the deer industry that have made the years fly by, he says. He gets “as much of a kick out of having a chat with farmers in Gore or Central Otago as meeting big customers in Seoul or Beijing.”

Griffiths expects to be in the temporary CEO role for three to six months, while the search is on “for the right person”. He is supported significantly by the DINZ board  and expert contractors sharing the load in specific areas, so he “can continue to lead on value chains and international markets, on which good progress is being made,” outgoing chair Mandy Bell says.

DINZ assistant markets manager Virginia Connell will also step up to support more of the marketing projects.

Griffiths is “looking forward to adding further executive leadership experience and supporting the organisation over the coming months,” he says, adding “It will be good for the team to get some consistency again.”

He acknowledges concern about the breadth of his workload needing him to “juggle a couple of big portfolios.” What will help, he stresses, is, “the professionalism and experience of the whole DINZ team.” DINZ will also use project managers, where appropriate.

While Griffiths will be busy – he’s just about to launch into 2024-2025 budget preparation and the strategy refresh among other things – he’s looking forward to meeting deer industry people around the country in coming months, though wearing a different hat.


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