Senior Management Team

David Hughes - Group General Manager CommercialDavid Hughes

Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

David Hughes studied at Massey University, NZ, gaining both a BTech (Manufacturing) 1st Class Hons and a Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Statistics. Mr Hughes, as CEO, oversees all aspects of the organisation's operation and represents the Institute on a number of Boards and committees.

Mr Hughes joined Plant & Food Research in July 2009 as Group General Manager Commercial, and was appointed CEO in February 2018. He has a successful track record of business development and innovation within the food sector, including several high-profile roles within the dairy industry in New Zealand, Australia, USA, Japan and Bahrain. 

Kieran Elborough Group GM Technology DevelopmentDr Kieran Elborough

Group General Manager, Technology Development

As Group GM Technology Development, Dr Elborough will lead the growth of our technology development activities and the profitable growth of royalty revenues. With a BSc Honours and a DPhil, Dr Elborough was previously the GM Science of both New Cultivar Innovation (2012-2018) and Food Innovation (2009-2012) which included aspects of our seafood work. Between 2006 and 2009 he was Business Development Manager Functional Foods. Dr Elborough also worked at Fonterra subsidiary ViaLactia Biosciences Limited for six years as Chief Scientist Forage & Rumen, and was an academic lecturer at the University of Durham in the UK before that.

Craig Jensen - General Manager Human ResourcesCraig Jensen

General Manager Human Resources

Craig Jensen, as General Manager Human Resources, is responsible for Plant & Food Research’s people-related activities including organisational and workforce development, recruitment, employment relations, remuneration and health & safety. He has a strong interest in the relationship between employee engagement, leadership and organisational culture and performance.

Mr Jensen has extensive experience in human resource management within the New Zealand science sector, and holds a Bachelor of Arts and Postgraduate Diploma in Personnel and Employment Relations from the University of Auckland.

Dr Richard Newcomb - Chief ScientistDr Richard Newcomb

Chief Scientist

Professor Newcomb is responsible for quality assurance of our science, science strategy, strategic collaborations and science capability development within Plant & Food Research. He completed his BSc and MSc in Zoology at the University of Auckland, followed with a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from The Australian National University based at the CSIRO in Canberra. He has broad research interests focused on the biology, genetics and evolution of odour sensing in animals, is a co-author on over 100 publications and an inventor on five patents. Professor Newcomb is Associate Editor for the Journal of Chemical Ecology and on the editorial boards of the journals, Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Chemical Senses. He is currently a member of the Marsden Council at the Royal Society of New Zealand, Te Aparangi.

Gavin Ross, Group GM Marketing & InnovationDr Gavin Ross

Group General Manager, Marketing & Innovation

Dr Gavin Ross has a B.Sc (Hons) from the University of Canterbury, and a PhD from the Queen’s University of Belfast (UK). He joined Plant & Food Research's predecessor, HortResearch, as a research scientist and in the late 1990s was central to the establishment of genomics research for major horticultural crops, now integral to the Institute’s scientific programmes. After several years with Genesis R&D Corporation, in 2005 Dr Ross was appointed as HortResearch’s first Vice President Business Development in the USA. In 2010, Gavin returned to New Zealand and for 7 years was the General Manager Business Development, with responsibility for the Institute’s global business effort. For 3 years from 2014, Gavin was Chair of NZBIO, the NZ Industry organisation for Biotechnology industries.

Quentin Smith - Group General Manager Finance Infrastructure and InformationQuentin Smith

Group General Manager, Finance, Infrastructure & Information

As Group General Manager Finance, Infrastructure & Information, Quentin Smith leads the finance function and the management of infrastructure and information to achieve our goals. Mr Smith studied at the University of Auckland where he completed a BCom (Hons) in Finance and a BSc in Psychology. He began his career with professional services firm, Price Waterhouse (now PricewaterhouseCoopers), where he became a Manager. From here, he became a Financial Consultant with McDonalds Restaurants (New Zealand) Limited, moved into Operations and eventually went on to head up the Finance and Property portfolios for NZ and the Pacific Islands as the Director of Finance and Development.

Philippa Stevens Group GM Science ServicesPhilippa Stevens

Group General Manager, Science Services

As Group General Manager Science Services, Ms Stevens will lead the growth of a profitable fee-for-service research portfolio that delivers significant value and impact to government and private sector customers as well as high quality science. With a Bachelor of Science (Zoology) and a Master of Science, Ms Stevens has been employed at Plant & Food Research and its predecessors since 1989; from 2009 as the GM Science for Bioprotection, responsible for approximately 150 researchers, and for three years prior to this as the Group Leader for Bioprotection. Prior to that she conducted entomological research with a focus on Integrated Pest Management for subtropical crops.

Stacey Whitiora - Group General Manager MaoriStacey Whitiora

Group General Manager, Māori

As Group General Manager Māori, Stacey Whitiora leads development of our Māori direction and engagement. Ms Whitiora has a Bachelor of Science and 17 years' experience working in Central Government. She is a well-regarded and passionate leader in Māori development, regional growth and central government, and has championed significant improvements in the Māori primary industry outcomes across Aotearoa. 

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