Management profiles | Blackmores

Management profiles

Alastair Symington

Alastair Symington

Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director

Alastair joined Blackmores as Group CEO and Managing Director in September 2019. He is a global business leader and brand builder with more than 24 years of consumer goods experience in health and beauty across multiple geographies.

Alastair spent 10 years in a wide range of sales and marketing roles with Nestlé and Gillette in Australia, before joining Procter & Gamble (P&G) in 2005 and moving to Singapore in 2008 where he was responsible for strategy and planning across APAC for the beauty and grooming categories. During this time he led global and regional teams, including as China Managing Director for Wella based in Shanghai. 

In 2016, Alastair joined Coty as part of the merger between P&G specialty beauty brands and the former Coty company, helping to transform it into the third largest beauty company in the world. In his last role at Coty, he was Senior Vice President of APAC, Latin America and the Middle East. 

Alastair has a Bachelor of Economics and a Post-Graduate Diploma in International Business from Monash University, and studied Mandarin while living and working in Shanghai. He is passionate about finding ways to connect more people to holistic health solutions, believing that healthy people and their pets naturally lead to a healthier planet.

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lesleybraun

Adjunct Associate Professor Lesley Braun

Director, Blackmores Institute

Passionate about growing the evidence-base for complementary medicine, Adjunct Associate Professor Dr Lesley Braun is a distinguished academic, pharmacist and naturopath. She leads our research and education centre of excellence, the Blackmores Institute, and in 2018 was named the CEO Magazine's Health & Pharmaceutical Executive of the Year.

Never one to compromise her ethics, Lesley was attracted to Blackmores’ unrivalled reputation for quality, joining us in 2014. She believes that making better healthcare available to all is a matter of social justice, which goes hand-in-hand with educating the public and medical profession about natural medicine options to really improve people’s lives. A regular presenter at health symposiums across Asia-Pacific, Europe and North America, Lesley says: ‘As a researcher, it’s very exciting to be able to develop new treatments and explore better ways of using existing ones. Building the evidence base so more people can benefit safely is the dream of academics in healthcare.’

In her spare time, Lesley is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the National Institute of Complementary Medicine (Western Sydney University) and has held research positions at The Alfred Hospital, Monash University. She is a member of the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia’s Complementary and Integrative Therapies Group Executive, Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, Australian Institute of Company Directors, and Australia-China Business Council Health and Medical Research working group. She is also on the advisory committees for nutrition courses at Endeavour College and the Think Group. She is the main author of four best-selling textbooks including Herbs and Natural Supplements – an evidence based guide and founding Editor-in-Chief of the journal Advances in Integrative Medicine. 

Why Blackmores Group? I was attracted to Blackmores’ unrivalled reputation for quality and building the evidence base so more people can benefit safely is the dream of academics in healthcare.

Must-have health and wellness fix: Getting into nature is my go-to therapy for the body and soul. Also, I was proudly vegetarian for twenty years before adding oily fish into my diet ten years ago for the Omega-3 health benefits.

Life outside of work: At work and in my personal life I love adventures and seek opportunities for personal growth. I try to make sure there is meaning and purpose behind everything I do and surround myself with people who have similar values.

 

Gunther Burghardt

Chief Financial Officer

An international search saw Gunther join Blackmores Group in January 2020, bringing a wealth of commercial and operations experience to our business.

The appeal of an Aussie lifestyle and respect for the Blackmores brand motivated Gunther to make the move from California, where he was Executive Vice President for the Americas winemaking business at Treasury Wine Estates and formerly their Group CFO.

Gunther has enjoyed a successful 26-year career in the consumer goods and food and beverage industries. He brings valuable skills to our executive management team, having also held a diverse range of senior roles with Mondelez International (formerly Kraft Foods), Reckitt Benckiser and Procter & Gamble.

Why Blackmores Group? It's an exciting time to be involved in the health and nutrition market. Blackmores is an iconic Australian company with a great reputation for quality products. The company has massive growth potential, especially in Asia and a market-leading position in its home country. I look forward to being part of the next big phase of growth and expansion for Blackmores Group.

Must-have health and wellness fix: I believe pets really improve your sense of wellbeing and engagement with life – there is nothing like the unconditional love of dogs in particular, to set an example for all of us. We have three active dogs who give us lots of affection and encourage us to walk regularly at the park; I sometimes wonder if we’re walking the dogs, or if they’re walking us! I also believe in the power of meditation – and a good night’s sleep – to ensure equanimity and a positive outlook.

Life outside of work: As a Canadian I love the great outdoors and hiking holidays exploring the wilderness, and Australia has so much to offer in this regard. My wife and I look forward visiting the Outback and exploring the beautiful coastline. I’m also thrilled that the Blackmores Warriewood Campus has both a gym and lap pool – a good workout means the start to a good day.

 

Cecile Cooper

Company Secretary & Director of Corporate Affairs

Cecile is extremely proud of sustainability and good governance at Blackmores, championing both throughout her 30-year career with us across several senior roles. As Director of Corporate Affairs & Company Secretary, Cecile is responsible for sustainability, risk and compliance, corporate communications, Board administration and Secretariat.

As one of Blackmores’ longest serving employees, Cecile knows the business inside out. Over recent years, she has been especially passionate about embedding sustainability across the business, explaining that ‘Our founder Maurice Blackmore knew that you can’t have healthy people without a healthy planet and this still underpins everything we do today. However, it’s important to realise that sustainability extends beyond minimising our carbon footprint to sourcing responsibly, leading industry change and improving overall wellbeing for everyone.’

Cecile is a Chartered Secretary and a Certified Practicing Accountant. She has a Bachelor of Business (Accounting) and a Graduate Diploma of Applied Corporate Governance. She is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and serves on the Governance Institute of Australia’s Legislation Review Committee. Always one to give back, Cecile is the Chairman of CCNB Limited and her community work was recognised with a Rotary Paul Harris Fellow in 2015. 

Why Blackmores Group? Growing up, my family’s health solutions were most often found in the local health food shop and Blackmores products were our first choice. Finding health solutions from nature just feels right to me and it’s exciting to work for a company that I have always trusted.

Must-have health and wellness fix: My family is heavily involved in the local surf lifesaving club and there’s nothing like walking by the ocean to rejuvenate and clear the mind.

Life outside of work: I love a good road trip with my family exploring our beautiful country. Over the last few years this has included visiting Kangaroo Island in South Australia and driving across the remote Nullarboor Plains. Experiencing extreme temperatures of 45+ degrees and the needs of remote and rural communities drove home my awareness of the challenges facing our environment and the need for us to act to reduce our footprint.

 

Jeremy Cowan

Chief Operations Officer

Jeremy oversees our technical day-to-day operations, which is no small feat considering Blackmores’ presence in 17 markets across Asia-Pacific. Passionate about planning, he is responsible for our end-to-end supply chain across manufacturing, logistics and procurement which includes our export business to China.

Raised on farm with food straight from the paddock and herbal cures from his grandma’s garden, Jeremy was attracted to Blackmores’ strong natural health purpose. A successful triathlete who completed his first full Iron Man race in Cairns in 2018, he says: ‘You only get one body, and one chance at life. I have always believed in natural solutions as being the best. I love what the Blackmores brand stands for and I’m proud of its 85-year Australian heritage which has stood the test of time.’

Prior to joining Blackmores in 2018, Jeremy was the Asia-Pacific Procurement Director of Nando’s and before this enjoyed a 20-year career with Mars Inc. in various supply chain and procurement leadership roles in both Australia and the US. He has a Bachelor of Business from Deakin University, and has served on various boards and business committees in Victoria.

Why Blackmores Group? I love that natural health can bring benefits to everyone and it’s exciting to be a part of a movement that inspires better health and wellbeing.

Must-have health and wellness fix: Running, riding, swimming, kayaking and generally being active – I’ve competed in many long distance multisport and triathlon events over the years and love the mental and physical feeling of being at my peak level of fitness.   

Life outside of work: My wife and I love the responsibility that comes with educating our three children about the importance of being mentally and physically fit.

 

Jane Franks

Chief People Officer

Passionate about people and making a difference, Jane is an accomplished human resources leader with 20 years of experience in the financial services and consumer products sectors. She prides herself on building strong organisational cultures, improving leadership capability and optimising business performance through having the right talent in the right roles.   

Growing up in the USA and Europe but long settled in Sydney with her husband and two young children, Jane loves working for an iconic Australian brand like Blackmores, where she has been our Chief People Officer since 2018. She says: ‘Blackmores is a truly purpose-led organisation and the health and wellness industry presents many exciting growth opportunities. I think improving the accessibility and understanding of natural health solutions will fundamentally change the future of our world for generations to come.’

Jane was previously HR Director for Diageo Australia and before that held senior HR roles with Westpac Group and BT Financial Group. Her qualifications include a Bachelor of Business/Commerce and membership of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and Australian Human Resources Institute.

Why Blackmores Group? Blackmores is a truly purpose-led organisation. Improving the accessibility and understanding of natural health solutions will fundamentally change the future of our world for generations to come.

Must-have health and wellness fix: Pilates is an absolute game-changer for me.

Life outside of work: I love spending time in the great outdoors with my family playing backyard cricket and soccer and swimming in the ocean.

 

Dean Garvey

Managing Director, International

An experienced commercial operator, Dean is responsible for our international business (excluding China), including new market entries through either direct investment or via distribution partners. He is based at our international hub in Singapore, leading a team of almost 800 across the region. Prior to this Dean was Blackmores Deputy Managing Director Asia since 2014, spearheading our joint venture with Kalbe Farma in Indonesia of which he is President Director.

Dean has been an active user and advocate of integrative medicine since his teens and always take time to incorporate health and wellbeing in his own life no matter how busy. He has a keen interest in geopolitics and is fascinated by different cultures, including the diverse markets he oversees in Asia – Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. 

Before joining Blackmores Dean was the General Manager for Sales & Marketing at Vodafone Australia and held senior roles in M&A advisory both in-house with SingTel Optus and professional services firms. Dean has degrees in Commerce and Chemical Engineering (Hons) from the University of Sydney and is a Chartered Accountant. 

Why Blackmores Group? I grew up on the Northern Beaches and I approached Blackmores pro-actively as I thought the commercial challenges of a growing company with products that I knew myself can make a huge difference would be rewarding. It has been the highlight of my career working at Blackmores.

Must-have health and wellness fix: I’m an avid tennis player and always travel with two racquets wherever I go. I always prioritise my health and wellbeing – whether it’s sleep, hydration or stretching – as I know I can’t pull off my other responsibilities in life unless I get that right.

Life outside of work: I’m a father to four young kids which keeps me on my toes. When it’s time to recharge I love watching wildlife documentaries, for some reason this always relaxes me.

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Kitty Liu

Managing Director, China

With a strong marketing pedigree and reputation for great brand strategy and business growth, Kitty has more than two decades of experience with blue chip multi-national organisations including General Mills, Mead Johnson, Yum! and Unilever.  She has successfully implemented omni channel strategies across e-commerce, including JBP experience with Alibaba and Tencent.

Kitty’s strong operating experience in China includes VP, Marketing Strategy & Sales Operation for Mead Johnson Nutrition, where she reshaped the infant and child nutrition product portfolio and sales strategy, achieving double-digit top line growth by gaining share in the winning channels of e-commerce B2C and mother and baby store chains.  

Kitty’s roll-up her sleeves approach to leadership combined with a MBA means she is passionate about delivering results and keen to foster a performance culture where all team members feel supported to reach their full-potential. She is a strong believer in gender equity and the importance of building a strong pipeline of talent to support future business growth.

Why Blackmores Group? I was motivated by the fact that Blackmores is a purpose-led business. Prior to joining I met many leaders of the company and was impressed by their shared passion for natural health and desire to make a meaningful impact on people’s lives.

Must-have health and wellness fix: My Taiwanese background values a natural holistic approach to health.  I think we need to guard against the pursuit of the quick fix.  My approach to health is grounded in scientific understanding and making slow incremental improvements to improve health and wellness.  

Life outside of work: I practice yoga, which is good for my mind and body and gives me an enduring sense of wellbeing. I also love music, movies, and taking long walks with my family.  I have two daughters and think it is important to spend time away from mobile phones, so we can talk and understand each other better.   

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Joanne Smith

Joanne Smith

Chief Marketing & Innovation Officer 

Holding a stellar track record in global brand building and innovation, Joanne drives marketing excellence and consumer-led innovation for Blackmores Group. With over two decades of commercial and global marketing leadership expertise, Joanne’s key strengths include business and brand development, consumer-centric global growth strategies and transformational organisational change.

“Consumers globally are increasingly focussed on natural health, wellness and living stronger for longer and Blackmores has an impressive pioneering history of supporting consumers in their health and wellness goals,” explains Joanne, who has deep experience in Asian markets key to Blackmores Group.

Joanne’s former roles include Global Marketing Director at DuluxGroup, driving the Selley’s brand across Australia, NZ, Asia and the UK; Regional Director for Johnson & Johnson (Asia); and Global Marketing Director for Unilever (USA), leading the Dove brand globally. She has an MBA with an International Business major.

Why Blackmores Group? I’ve used many Blackmores products and love that Blackmores is a purpose-led organisation. I have admired the Blackmores brand for many years. Blackmores has a strong history of innovation and of supporting consumers with efficacious natural health solutions - I am so impressed with the quality of the Blackmores brand and believe it has enormous potential for growth.

Must have health and wellness fix: Exercising outdoors and swimming in the ocean. For me true health and wellness means being able to fully participate in life the way you want to, without limitations, for as long as possible – whatever your age.

Life outside of work: Full and fun! My two girls keep life very busy with their sports, school and social activities. We love having friends over, travelling and are always planning our next family adventure!

Go-to product and why? Armaforce is my favourite go-to product at the first sign of feeling unwell!

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Ayumi Uyeda

Ayumi Uyeda

Managing Director, Australia & New Zealand 

An entrepreneurial leader who balances commercial problem solving with an innovative spirit, Ayumi is responsible for ANZ sales and marketing across our portfolio of brands including Blackmores, BioCeuticals, PAW, IsoWhey, Impromy, Fusion Health and Oriental Botanicals.

Ayumi is a pharmacist with a passion for health and wellness: ‘At the age of 14 I read Strong Medicine by Arthur Hailey and decided that I wanted to work in some way, shape or form in the healthcare industry.’ Since then she’s held senior global roles in the consumer health and pharmaceutical industry spanning medical services, marketing and general management. She was most recently Bayer’s Global Head, Vice President of Aspirin & Aleve (Pain & Cardio categories).

Her experience includes successfully managing established businesses, entering new markets and launching new brands, and M&A integration.

Why Blackmores Group? I love what Blackmores stands for, including how rooted into the company culture the ‘Healthy People, Healthy Planet’ values are. It’s an iconic Australian business and for more than 25 years Blackmores has played a role in my life in one way or another.

Must-have health and wellness fix: Exercise, a good hour every day. And walking my dog Einstein – I love going on mini-adventures with him. I truly believe that without your health, nothing else is meaningful and good eating is the key to smart bodies.

Life outside of work: My family and I like to travel and chase that next delicious bite. We love hiking or walking for hours as we discover new places. Fly fishing in beautiful locations is also a favourite activity of mine.