Our Team

We're on a mission to create a new food system

Our People

Dr John Penno & Maury Leyland Penno Founders Maury and John met at a Stanford University innovation boot camp. Immersed in future ideas, it sparked them to think about what their role was in the future of food. Until then, they had both dedicated their early careers to building and leading great businesses, with Maury starting out as an engineer for Team New Zealand then as a strategy consultant for BCG and an executive for Fonterra; and John firstly as an agricultural scientist, then as the co-founder and CEO of Synlait Milk, a sustainability-focused dairy company. Stepping away from corporate life, together they embarked on what was to be their true life’s work – transforming food.   What started as a staunch desire to help livestock farmers transition into lower impact food production, the idea for Leaft Foods was a fortuitous play on their Kiwi roots – a country known for its sweeping green landscapes…and all of it containing protein, specifically Rubisco, the most abundant protein on the planet.  Combining their business, engineering and scientific talents, Maury and John explored whether this idea of getting protein from green leaves was even possible. They learned enough to believe it could work, so since 2019, they’ve been focused on building a team and an ecosystem of people driven by the same values, turning the idea into a reality.

Dr John Penno & Maury Leyland Penno

Founders

Maury and John met at a Stanford University innovation boot camp. Immersed in future ideas, it sparked them to think about what their role was in the future of food. Until then, they had both dedicated their early careers to building and leading great businesses, with Maury starting out as an engineer for Team New Zealand then as a strategy consultant for BCG and an executive for Fonterra; and John firstly as an agricultural scientist, then as the co-founder and CEO of Synlait Milk, a sustainability-focused dairy company. Stepping away from corporate life, together they embarked on what was to be their true life’s work – transforming food. 

What started as a staunch desire to help livestock farmers transition into lower impact food production, the idea for Leaft Foods was a fortuitous play on their Kiwi roots – a country known for its sweeping green landscapes…and all of it containing protein, specifically Rubisco, the most abundant protein on the planet.

Combining their business, engineering and scientific talents, Maury and John explored whether this idea of getting protein from green leaves was even possible. They learned enough to believe it could work, so since 2019, they’ve been focused on building a team and an ecosystem of people driven by the same values, turning the idea into a reality.

Ross Milne CEO In 2019 when John and Maury invited Ross to join them in building Leaft Foods, Ross had just started his own plant-based journey. Even though Ross spent his career designing and building some of the world’s largest food factories for GEA, it was conversations with friends about alternatives like electric vehicles and plant protein that moved him to spend the next chapter in his career building something meaningful.  With an extensive background in engineering project management and team building, what stands out about Ross is his sheer determination to create new ways of making food that is better for people’s health and better for the state of the planet.   Thriving on getting the best out of people, Ross is clear on the challenges ahead of Leaft Foods but his philosophy of making sure to have fun along the way fuels the ability of Ross’s team to deliver on something that could be truly transformational.

Ross Milne

CEO

In 2019 when John and Maury invited Ross to join them in building Leaft Foods, Ross had just started his own plant-based journey. Even though Ross spent his career designing and building some of the world’s largest food factories for GEA, it was conversations with friends about alternatives like electric vehicles and plant protein that moved him to spend the next chapter in his career building something meaningful.

With an extensive background in engineering project management and team building, what stands out about Ross is his sheer determination to create new ways of making food that is better for people’s health and better for the state of the planet.  

Thriving on getting the best out of people, Ross is clear on the challenges ahead of Leaft Foods but his philosophy of making sure to have fun along the way fuels the ability of Ross’s team to deliver on something that could be truly transformational.

Dr Anne Gordon Technical and R&D Lead

Dr Anne Gordon

Technical and R&D Lead

Rhys Denny Head of Sales & Marketing

Rhys Denny

Head of Sales & Marketing

Chris Simcock CFO

Chris Simcock

CFO

Nicola Wilson Food Technologist

Nicola Wilson

Food Technologist

Dr Gregory Baxter Parker Process Technologist

Dr Gregory Baxter Parker

Process Technologist

Marissa Law Process Technologist

Marissa Law

Process Technologist

Steve Williamson Creative Lead

Steve Williamson

Creative Lead

Niki-Lee Francis Finance Manager

Niki-Lee Francis

Finance Manager

Dr Cameron Marshall Animal Nutrition Scientist

Dr Cameron Marshall

Animal Nutrition Scientist

Dr Andrew Muscroft-Taylor R&D Specialist

Dr Andrew Muscroft-Taylor

R&D Specialist

Paige Hansen Graduate Process Technologist

Paige Hansen

Graduate Process Technologist

Anna Johnstone Business Operations Manager

Anna Johnstone

Business Operations Manager

Harry Hunter Process Technologist

Harry Hunter

Process Technologist

Nathan Sheppard Farm Systems Lead

Nathan Sheppard

Farm Systems Lead

Nataliya Ivashchenko Quality Coordinator

Nataliya Ivashchenko

Quality Coordinator

Stuart Nicholls Manufacturing Process Specialist

Stuart Nicholls

Manufacturing Process Specialist

Jessica Kemp Food Technologist

Jessica Kemp

Food Technologist

Tom Waugh Process Operator

Tom Waugh

Process Operator

Dr Raquel Salvador Gallego R&D Specialist

Dr Raquel Salvador Gallego

R&D Specialist

Juliet Bilkey Field to Food Specialist

Juliet Bilkey

Field to Food Specialist

Liam Porter Process operator

Liam Porter

Process operator

Jackson Olds Process Engineer

Jackson Olds

Process Engineer

Investors

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