Our Team

Paul Hollings – General Manager 

Completing his apprenticeship while serving in the New Zealand Army, Paul is originally an electrician with over 20 years’ experience. Paul also has a further 20 years’ experience in Vocational Education and Training. Paul was until recently the Technology Park (TechPark) Campus General Manager at Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT) and had worked in senior roles at MIT for over 5 years. Prior to this Paul spent 15 years at the Skills Organisation (previously ETITO) in a number of different roles including Regional Training Manager, Head of Specialist Trades and Head of Strategic Engagement. He holds a Diploma in Management from the New Zealand Institute of Management, and has previously served as a member of the New Zealand Board of Engineering Diplomas, and on the Board of the Construction and Infrastructure CoVE (ConCoVE).

Nicola Yuile – Operations & Administration Manager 

Nicola is the Operations and Administration Manager for the Food and Fibre CoVE. Born and raised in the Waikato, on completion of school she spent some time in the Royal New Zealand Navy. After raising three children she then moved onto a broad range of customer facing roles, including six years in the travel industry. She has moved into her role at CoVE after a secondment from EIT where she was the Programme Secretary at the English Language Centre. Nicola is looking forward to helping CoVE stakeholders with enquiries and extending her knowledge of the Primary Sector.

Doug Neilson – Portfolio Manager

Following a 20-year career in the RNZAF (including time as a trade training instructor) Doug combined work as a business consultant with a part-time lecturing role at Otago Polytechnic for eight years.  He then held a range of senior management positions – CIO, Programme Manager, Change Manager, Information Strategist – in the public service in Wellington before relocating to Napier where he again worked as a business consultant, this time alongside part-time lecturing at EIT.   Doug is now combining programme management experience with his knowledge of course design and delivery to help the Food and Fibre Sector achieve its vocational excellence targets.

Jackie Lynch – Portfolio Manager 

Growing up in Wairoa HB gave me a solid grounding in life and exposed me to the value of education and its impact on people’s lives. My family moved to Napier in 2002 with my sons growing up in Napier, they whakapapa to Ngāti Whātua Te Uri O Hau.

Education is my true passion and I have always believed in the value of education and its positive impact on people’s lives. I have had a career spanning approximately 30 years in the education sector. I am an experienced practitioner, initially a Primary School Teacher, have worked in pre-school, taught English in Japan and for the past decade as a tertiary educator.  My experience is supported by degree and diploma qualifications in both Education and Social Policy. While working at EIT I had the unique privilege to work in a variety of smaller communities along the East Coast, from Ruatoria to Dannevirke both delivering and coordinating a variety of horticulture programmes.  Our kaupapa has always been to take the education to the people and I am immensely proud that I was in the position to provide the opportunity for tertiary study to so many people in these smaller rural communities.  The other main part of my role was to lead a variety of teams to write and develop the new horticulture qualifications post TROQ

I am very excited to be at the beginning of the COVE journey as one of the Food and Fibre Portfolio Managers and be in a position to contribute to the transformation of our current tertiary education system. I believe we have a unique opportunity to take the best practice of the current sector, build on that best practice and replicate it for nationwide delivery.

Lilla du Toit – Portfolio Manager 

Lilla is passionate about empowering people through the psychology of the mind, enabling them to excel, thrive, and reach their full potential. She has over 20 years’ international experience in the vocational and higher education sectors supporting quality education with a strong focus on industry needs.  Her transformation expertise ranges from designing and leading continuous improvement programmes (South Africa and the United Arab Emirates) to overseeing multiple complex transformation, strategy design and culture change projects in both countries’ education industries. Lilla’s experience includes supporting businesses in institutional effectiveness and continuous quality improvement.  In her spare time, she is an adventurous and enthusiastic rider (both two wheeled and four legged) and a keen explorer of minds, territories and opportunities.

Fiona Windle – Portfolio Manager

Having spent the last 18 years dedicated to the domestic marketing body of the beef and lamb sector, Fiona is a passionate advocate for the New Zealand primary industries.  With a Bachelor of Science degree in human nutrition, and an application in marketing and communications, her experience has generated a diverse skill set within the sector, including stakeholder engagement, issues management, strategic and marketing planning, critical thinking and event management.  As a natural collaborator and thought leader, she has sat on and led a range of national and global committees that advance the progression of excellence in science, health and food.  She is excited to bring her passion and expertise to the Food and Fibre CoVE to advance its goals, and contribute to a thriving and resilient primary industries workforce.

Michelle Jones – Head of Marketing and Communications

Passionate about marketing, building brands and delivering exceptional customer experience to drive business results, Michelle has an excellent commercial and operational understanding, through her involvement in senior management teams. Relocating to Hawke’s Bay in mid-2020, and with more than 25 years’ experience across a broad range of industry sectors from technology, food, and hospitality to retail and financial services, Michelle has extensive marketing and communication expertise. Graduating with a Le Cordon Bleu Master of Gastronomic Tourism in 2018, Michelle is a Past President of Food Writers New Zealand and has been on their Board since 2017.  Michelle has also been a judge at the Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards and New Zealand Effie Awards.