Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand (ANZ), the international not-for-profit seeking to make trade fair, appointed Senthil Nathan as its new Chief Executive Officer.
Mr Nathan was born to a family of small-hold paddy farmers in a Southern Indian village. He grew up watching the environmental and economic challenges faced by his community, which led him to embark on a career developing and implementing sustainability programs in the food and agricultural sector. Senthil comes with experience in both business and development sectors.
Over the last two decades, Mr Nathan has helped the world’s leading food and beverage companies with their supply chain transparency, responsible sourcing, regenerative agriculture and carbon management initiatives. He has worked extensively with rural communities, producer cooperatives, governments and businesses in over forty countries with a recent focus on the coffee industry.
Newly appointed Fairtrade ANZ Board Chair Josie Pagani says that her career in aid, politics, trade and media complement the skills that Mr Nathan is bringing as CEO.
“My connections and understanding of what works in development, plus my knowledge of the political landscape in our region combined with Senthil’s expertise in sustainability and business, will support Fairtrade to grow and flourish. I’m excited to work with Senthil and the dynamic Fairtrade team across the whole region,” she said.
While Mr Nathan has, for the last six years been working in Indonesia leading the Asia Operations of Enveritas, a New York-based non-profit, his connection to Fairtrade dates back many years.
“I started my career in the corporate sector, spending over ten years working with companies such as PepsiCo and General Mills. Ultimately though, I was drawn back to agriculture. I wanted to find solutions to the problems faced by farmers like my parents while helping businesses and consumers to embrace sustainability in their sourcing and purchasing,” he said.
This led him to a role leading market access and producer sustainability in the Fairtrade Asia Pacific Regional office (NAPP).
“I joined Fairtrade to connect disadvantaged producers and consumers, promote fairer trading conditions, and empower producers to combat poverty, strengthen their position, and take more control over their lives,” Mr Nathan said.
Following his time at Fairtrade, Mr Nathan cemented his commitment to international development by studying for his MPA at Columbia University specialising in sustainable development and food systems. He believes this deepened his understanding of how existing market mechanisms can be used to address challenges with the way trade works.
“My interest lies at the intersection of business and sustainable development. Ultimately, I believe in the power of markets to build a better world,” he said.
“Fairtrade engineers solutions to make trade fair so I feel like returning at this time with more experience and understanding that will allow me to unleash the full potential of partnerships between farmers, business and consumers to build a fair and just world.”
Mr Nathan commenced as Fairtrade ANZ CEO on Monday 24 April 2023.