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RSPO CEO Beverley Postma resigns

The former HarvestPlus chief executive is to move on after just a year with the palm oil certifier. Olam's Audrey Lee has been appointed as interim replacement.

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), the lead certification body for the palm oil industry, is to part ways with chief executive Beverley Postma.

The Kuala Lumpur-based organisation announced her resignation in a short statement on its website on Monday (17 May).

Postma resigned after about a year with the organisation, which has been going through a period of transition involving a number of personnel changes.

RSPO stated: “The Board of Governors acknowledges the constraints posed by the ongoing global pandemic and wishes to thank Beverley for her valuable contributions in helping develop the organisation’s five-year strategy with an ambitious vision and implementation plan. The RSPO Board of Governors wishes Beverley all the best in her future endeavours.”

Because of the constraints of the Covid-19 pandemic, Postma had been based in Singapore. RSPO will now be searching for an executive who can work out of Kuala Lumpur, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Audrey Lee, Malaysia-based sustainability general manager at agribusiness giant Olam International, has been appointed as RSPO’s interim coordinator.

Audrey Lee

Audrey Lee has been appointed RSPO’s interim coordinator

Lee will “assist with a smooth transition to ensure that the RSPO can continue its ongoing projects and initiatives without disruption,” RSPO said.

Lee takes on the position with prior experience with RSPO. She was previously the organisation’s conservation manager and head of impacts. Before RSPO, she worked for World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Malaysia as a forest management officer.

Postma joined as CEO-designate in April 202 following the departure of previous CEO Darrel Webber. Among her achievements at RSPO is the completion of a new 5-year plan, which lays out its principles and criteria for what constitutes sustainable palm oil. 

Postma was previously with sustainable business consultancy GreenOcean Group. Over her career, she also had a stint as executive director of food and beverage industry body Food Industry Asia (FIA), and CEO of nutrition non-profit HarvestPlus.

When she accepted the role at RSPO, she said that the job is “not without challenges”, but added that the approach of the RSPO—bringing together stakeholder groups with varied interests—is “the best way to build effective partnerships and solve the world’s most difficult problems.”

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