Co-operative Leader of the Year 2021: Wayne McNee

By Cooperative Business New Zealand | March 2022
Wayne McNee, past CEO of LIC, was awarded Co-operative Leader of the Year in recognition of his outstanding leadership and demonstration of vision, courage and a range of successful initiatives.

The Co-operative Leader of the Year Award, presented at the Annual Business Awards ceremony, is always hotly contested. Every year, the judges note that it is the most challenging category, with the leaders in the co-operative sector being second to none. 

In 2021 (awarded in February 2022), Wayne McNee was presented with this prestigious award for his outstanding contribution and leadership with LIC (Livestock Improvement Corporation). 

When selecting a winner, the judging panel looked for a clear demonstration of vision and courage for the co-operative model, a range of successful initiatives that have benefited their co-operative and the sector, and ongoing commitment to the co-operative principles.  

Wayne joined LIC in 2013 and, across his tenure, facilitated a significant amount of positive change, leading the business’ transformation into a modern, progressive co-operative.  

He consistently championed the need for their strategy to be grounded in actual measurable outcomes for their farmer shareholders. During his tenure, LIC’s strategy evolved twice to ensure shareholders are at its heart – a shift away from the sole revenue-focused of the past. Wayne was integral in driving the refinements.  

He delivered on his promises to farmer shareholders about the benefits of the company’s transformation, and in 2021, reported yet another strong financial result for shareholders for the fourth consecutive year.  

He drove many major initiatives throughout the year which contributed to the strong financial position including the automation of herd testing laboratories, and the implementation of new advanced DNA technology 

In addition to being accountable to LIC’s 10,000 plus shareholder farmers, Wayne led a team of over 800 staff.  

Chair Murray King, said of Wayne “It’s a completely different organisation to when he started. LIC’s transformation was significant, and it required needing the appropriate people to implement it. Wayne did just that exceptionally well.” 

Wayne exited the business in November 2021. Murray said “Wayne left LIC in really good shape, and in really good heart. It’s a good time to transition because the co-op has no real issues – and that is a testament to Wayne’s leadership” 

Congratulations Wayne! 

The other finalists for the 2021 Co-operative Leader of the Year Award were:

  • Robb Kidd, CEO of NZPM 
  • Nicola Devine, General Manager of Interflora 
  • Ruth Knewstubb, Chief People Officer of Farmlands 

With thanks to Anderson Lloyd and LBMX. The Annual Awards would not be possible without your support. 

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