From chemical engineer to eco-project leader – meet Debbie

Debbie Pearson and her adolescent chicken

Debbie Pearson loves a good bike ride around Golden Bay’s cycle lanes. Partly because she thrives outside in the elements, and also because she helped them exist.

After training as a chemical engineer with a post grad diploma in dairy science and technology, Debbie spent the first 17 years of her career working for the Dairy Board, which became Fonterra.

Firstly she worked on the technical side, developing new added value products, and then for the last 10 years she was in senior management.

“For a while I had a crack hot team of awesome analysts who worked for me, determining the dairy industry’s future manufacturing and offshore investments, and working with the dairy companies on how returns should be shared – a highly charged area!

“Later I specialised in supply chain optimisation and ended up as general manager of supply chain strategy, where I was project director for a massive overhaul of our dairy business model. It was a $300 million project and was still going when I left.”

In 2004 she joined a newly formed management team at Biosecurity NZ as Director of Preclearance. 

Around that time she trained in breathwork and started to integrate meditation, yoga and breathing into her days, habits that she uses today.

More restructuring eventually led to a trip around the world with her family, after which she became a part-time consultant in project and programme management. 

Already owning land at Barron’s Flat (Upper Takaka), Debbie and her husband bought a property in Takaka in 2015 and have been part of the “wonderful community” ever since.

Climate-friendly projects that Debbie’s working on are: the Pohara to Takaka cycle and walkway, Golden Bay Cycling Strategy and flow-on projects (such as the Takaka to Paines Ford cycleway and Takaka to Collingwood concept), Farming 2030 and ‘Mohua 2042 – A sustainable Strategy for Golden Bay’.

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