Farmer Portal

#InternationalWomensDay – Celebrating our Women in Dairy

Mar 2021

#InternationalWomensDay – Celebrating our Women in Dairy

Here at Meadow Foods, we’re proud to celebrate International Women’s Day as we have a wonderful team of women across the different areas of our business. We’re very passionate about encouraging more women into the dairy and agriculture industry, and so we wanted to shine a spotlight on some of the team that we have working with us here at Meadow Foods and Nimbus Foods, as well as highlighting why you might want to consider a career in this sector.

The Women Behind Meadow & Nimbus Foods

Steph Doherty, Dairy Producer 

Steph, along with her husband James, is one of Meadow Foods’ producers with a herd of over 80 Holstein and Jersey cows. Alongside working on the farm, Steph works for Genus ABS where she has travelled the world and seen a whole host of different farming systems and has also represented the UK in competitions across Europe, winning titles for her handling skills. Truly a wonder woman, she also started a master’s degree in Business in January at Warwick University. We love Steph’s passion and commitment to the dairy industry and she is an ideal role model for the next generation of farmers.


Maria Neeve, CFO

Maria is our first female board member and is responsible for delivering the financial planning and reporting for our business, as well as for the company’s IT function. After graduating with a degree in economics, she qualified as an accountant with PricewaterhouseCoopers. Maria has a wealth of established experience in the food industry and before joining Meadow Foods, spent 15 years with Brakes in several roles including Fresh Direct Group CFO and UK CFO. She joined Meadow Foods in 2020 to take on the role of Chief Financial Officer.

Pamela, Operations Director

Pamela is responsible for our four factories in Chester, Yorkshire, Dolgellau and Peterborough, ensuring that they are productive, co-ordinated and best in class, as well as managing key strategic projects and capital. Working closely with our site directors and group managers, Pamela divides her time between our production sites, developing and sustaining the operational progress made over recent years. She joined the business in 2008 from Nestlé, where she worked for more than 20 years in quality and technical roles as well as in processing, packing and milk procurement.

Zoë Elleray, Head of Sales 

Zoë started her career in dairy operations and has moved from there, into a variety of senior commercial roles across the food industry. As our newly appointed Head of Sales at Nimbus Foods, Zoë will be working to deliver on Nimbus’ ambitious growth plans and will be working alongside the company’s commercial, operations, marketing and new product development teams in understanding and taking advantage of new market trends and opportunities in the food manufacturing inclusions sector

Paula Cowen, Financial Controller

There are a number of roles you can go in to as a woman in the dairy and agriculture industry, our very own Paula Cowen is responsible for leading one of Meadow’s largest teams in the business and has been with Meadow Foods for 25 years and has played a huge role in our growth as a business.

Emma, Head of Human Resources 

As Head of HR, Emma is responsible for the wellbeing and development of our employee base, looking after over 450 people across our 4 sites. She focuses on increasing employee engagement across the business and evolving opportunities as our business continues to grow. We care very much about our people and keeping them happy, so we’re lucky to have a woman like Emma leading this.

Beccy Hammersley, Head of Planning

Beccy joined the industry in 2001 and was completely new to dairy; it was a total change from her retail management background, and she describes it as a “massive learning curve”. She joined us in 2011 as a milk planner, responsible for all aspects of milk management from the farm through to the customer. Beccy now heads the planning team that controls all products across our Chester site and her career at Meadow Foods includes particular highlights such as implementing a totally new export process since Brexit that enables the business to continue to trade into the EU easily.

Why Consider A Career In Dairy Or Agriculture?

According to the 2018 Office for National Statistics’ annual population survey, around 17% of farmers are female, which is up from 7% in 2007-8. The agriculture industry is still largely male-dominated, but we hope to play a part in changing this at Meadow Foods. If farming isn’t for you, then there are so many opportunities to be explored in other areas. As you can see from some of the women featured above, here just some of the roles you can enter include operations, sales, finance, HR and marketing.

Not only this, but unlike some sectors, there is so much support for women in the industry, one of the leading organisations that focuses on this, is Women In Dairy, who host annual conferences and other events; as well as running groups across the country.

Two of our Dairy Technology Apprentices are women and are on a structured, technically focused career path. Alongside this, we’ve launched a Young Farmers Programme which is over 40% female. Women now make up around one-third of the agriculture industry, and we’re proud to be a part of encouraging equal gender representation in the sector.

The dairy sector is well established but is also growing and evolving every day – meaning every day is exciting and has the potential to bring something new. To find out more about what we do here at Meadow Foods, you can head to our website or follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn. If you’re a woman looking to get your foot in the door, then be sure to keep an eye on our channels.