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Leadership Team

Meet the Benchmark Leadership Team

Our Board

Peter George

Chairman

Peter has a strong track record in growing successful international pharmaceutical and healthcare businesses. He is most renowned for his achievements as CEO of Clinigen Group plc, the FTSE AIM global pharmaceutical and services company, which he founded in 2010 and grew into close to a £1bn market cap company having acquired several businesses and expanded its international footprint.
Peter also served as chairman of Ergomed plc, the AIM-listed provider of clinical research, drug development and safety services internationally, and was non-executive director of DRI Healthcare  und.
Prior to Clinigen, he held a number of senior roles in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors including chief executive officer and leading the MBO of Penn Pharmaceutical Services. He co-created Unilabs Clinical Trials International in 1997, which was successfully sold to Icon plc in 2000.

Other roles:  Peter is chairman of Oxford Quantum Circuits, non-executive director of Osler Diagnostics and a Health Sciences adviser at Oxford Science Enterprises and Gresham House. In addition, Peter has an investment fund, Enigma Holdings Group, and serves on a number of the boards of companies owned by the group. He also owns XPG Ltd, a building and development company.

Trond Williksen

Chief Executive Officer

Trond Williksen is highly experienced in the international aquaculture and seafood industries, having held senior executive positions in the sector for over 20 years. Most recently he was CEO of SalMar ASA, the Norwegian fish farm company and one of the world’s largest producers of farmed salmon. Prior to this, he was CEO of AKVA group ASA, the leading global aquaculture technology and service provider for six years. He previously held a number of senior roles in Aker ASA’s Seafoods, Ocean Harvest and BioMarine divisions.

Other roles: Trond is Chairman at Holding Cage AS (Mørenot AS), a leading technology provider to fisheries and aquaculture internationally, as well as an executive advisor for FSN Capital, a Nordic PE fund. He is also Chairman at Ivan Ulsund Rederi AS (including Trønderbas AS, Brusøykjær AS, Ivan Ulsund Eiendom AS), an ocean fisheries company. He is a board member at SinkabergHansen AS, a leading Norwegian salmon farming company, and a board member of Williksen Export AS, a Norwegian salmon export company. Trond also owns an investment company, KRING AS. At the time of Trond’s appointment, the Board reviewed Trond’s other roles and were comfortable that these would still allow sufficient time to discharge his responsibilities effectively. The Board agreed that each role was not deemed to be significant and will continue to monitor such appointments.

Septima Maguire

Chief Financial Officer

Septima joined Benchmark from Dechra Pharmaceuticals PLC, the international provider of specialist veterinary pharmaceuticals and products, where she spent four years as group financial controller, acting group finance director and most recently corporate development director, overseeing all aspects of acquisition activities, strategic projects, business development and investment initiatives playing a significant role in supporting Dechra during a period of high growth.
Prior to Dechra, Septima held a number of senior finance roles at Ardagh Group S.A. over a period of six years. She has also held finance roles at Impress Global, CNH Capital and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Septima holds a Masters in European Union Law from the University of Leicester and is ACCA qualified.

Susan Searle

Non-Executive Director

Susan has over 25 years’ experience working in a variety of commercial, business development, manufacturing and operational roles including investing in growing technology businesses, acquisitions and the exploitation of new technologies. She co-founded Imperial Innovations plc, a leading technology investment business, and served as its CEO from 2002 to 2013. As part of that role Susan was ultimately responsible for risk assessment regarding investee companies and business continuity management.
She was previously chair of Mercia Technologies PLC, a regional technology and biotech investor and holds an MA in Chemistry from Exeter College, Oxford. She was also non executive and remuneration chair of Horizon Discovery plc, a gene-editing biotech company, prior to its sale to Perkin Elmer. Susan was formerly chair of Schroders UK public private plc, which invested in a wide range of technology companies with a key focus on biotech and sustainability.
Susan brings to Benchmark a wealth of experience, including in relation to financial risk management, having served on a variety of company boards and audit committees.

Other roles:  Non-executive director and remuneration chair of QinetiQ Group plc and Chair of Greenback Recycling Technologies Ltd.

Kevin Quinn

Non-Executive Director

Kevin is a qualified chartered accountant with over 30 years of financial experience in international business and the biosciences industry, including with FTSE 100 companies. Previously, Kevin was chief financial officer at Berendsen plc, the leading FTSE 250 European textile service business, where he was directly responsible for finance risk management, until the takeover of Berendsen by Elis SA in September 2017. In his role at Berendsen Kevin was also responsible for providing assurance on mitigating actions relating to operational risks. Kevin has also previously held senior finance positions within biosciences group Amersham plc and before that was a partner
with PricewaterhouseCoopers (Prague). Kevin holds a BA in French from University College, Durham.

Other roles: Kevin is also the chair of Marlowe Plc, a leading UK services business providing testing, inspection and maintenance of critical building systems.

Yngve Myhre

Non-Executive Director

Yngve has more than 20 years’ experience in the aquaculture sector as a senior executive, adviser and investor. Yngve was chief executive of leading Norwegian salmon producer Salmar, and of international white fish supplier Aker Seafood during periods of successful growth. In both these roles Yngve was involved in evaluation of operational risk management strategies. Yngve also acts as strategic adviser to investors in the aquaculture section. Yngve has a very strong track record in Benchmark’s focus area of aquaculture, both in the Norwegian and international markets.

Other roles: Yngve is a member of the board of Kime Akva, Aqua Site AS and other seafood related companies. He is also chairman of Broodstock Capital and Chilean salmon producer Nova Austral. Yngve also acts as a strategic adviser to investors in the aquaculture sector.

Kristian Eikre

Non-Executive Director

Kristian has more than 15 years’ experience as an investment professional with a particular focus on the aquaculture, pharmaceuticals, energy and renewables sectors. Kristian is currently an investment professional and co-head of Ferd Capital, a division of Ferd AS, a Norwegian investment company holding 26.34% of the Company’s issued share capital. Prior to that, he was a partner at Herkules Capital, a leading private equity firm in Norway. Before this, he was a research analyst at First Securities, an investment banking firm. Kristian has held various board positions and is currently a board director of a number of companies including Fjord Line AS and Aibel AS.

Other roles:  Kristian has held various board positions and is currently a Board Director of a number of companies including Fjord Line AS, a Scandinavian cruise and ferry operator, as well as a Non-executive for Seagust AS.

Atle Eide

Non Executive Director

Atle Eide has extensive experience in the seafood industry including as Chairman of Salmar ASA and CEO of Mowi ASA. He is currently Chairman of Scale AQ, an innovation and technology aquaculture company and a member of the Norwegian Seafood Federation, amongst other appointments. In addition to his extensive involvement in the seafood and aquaculture sectors, Atle has substantial experience as an investor having been a director at Kverva AS between November 2017 and May 2021 and non-executive chairman, and senior partner, at HitecVision, the leading Norwegian private equity company, for almost 20 years until 2020.

Given Atle’s previous role as a director of Kverva AS, a significant shareholder in the Company, the Board has concluded that he is not an independent director of the Company.

Jennifer Haddouk

Company Secretary & Group Legal Counsel

Jennifer is a French qualified Solicitor with over 10 years’ experience. Jennifer previously worked in French law firm SCP de Poulpiquet & Co and more recently as an in-house legal counsel for KellyDeli, a European sushi retail company where she gained experience in the salmon industry, focusing on commercial agreements, corporate and competition law.

Since joining Benchmark, Jennifer has been advising and supporting Group companies to execute their strategies. Jennifer holds a MA in Law from the university of Nice and “Diplome de Notaire”.

Executive Management Team

John Marshall

Head of Animal Health

John joined Benchmark from Novartis Animal Health in 2011 where he was their Head of European Business unit Aquaculture and Head of Global Technical Services – Aquaculture.

John has a degree in Agricultural and Environmental Science (honours in Crop Protection) from Newcastle University and an MBA from Open University with Business Finance and Acquisition Strategy from Harvard University. He has 20 years experience in the animal health industry working in R&D, sales and marketing, business development, business unit leadership and leads Benchmark’s Animal Health division.

Jan-Emil Johannessen

Head of Genetics

Jan-Emil is Head of Benchmark Genetics and joined SalmoBreed – today part of Benchmark Genetics – as Chairman of the Board in 2011 and Managing Director in 2013. Prior to this he has been working 10 years with the Norwegian branded food company Rieber (Toro) and for 15 years in the family-owned company Fossen AS (today Lerøy Fossen AS).
Fossen was one of the pioneers in Norwegian fish farming with special focus on trout and value-added products. During his time with SalmoBreed Jan-Emil has prepared the company for an ownership change. Jan-Emil holds a MSc in Business Administration and Economics as well as University courses in Aquaculture. He lives in Bergen with his wife and 3 children. He enjoys skiing in the winter and water sports and boating in the summer.

Patrick Waty

Head of Advanced Nutrition

Patrick is an experienced aquaculture leader and expert who had his first exposure to the sector in 2005, upon purchasing and growing Seagull NV, the Belgium-based fish processing company. Patrick joined in November 2021 from SyAqua Group, an industry leader in early-stage nutrition and genetics for shrimp and tilapia, where he was chief executive officer pushing forward Asian market development. Prior to this Patrick spent 6 years in several key global leadership roles within BernAqua, Epicore Bionetworks, steering the company through a period of mergers, acquisitions, and integration, which significantly and strategically developed Neovia/ ADM business as a global aquaculture director. Patrick joins the Executive Management Team and will play a key role in developing and growing our Advanced Nutrition business as well as contributing strategically to the evolution of Benchmark over the coming years.

Ivonne Cantu

Director of Investor Relations and Corporate Development

Ivonne joined Benchmark in 2017 after 20 years as Corporate Finance adviser at Cenkos Securities and Merrill Lynch. Throughout her career Ivonne has advised UK and international companies on a broad range of corporate finance transactions including IPO’s, fundraisings and M&A as well as on investor communications, corporate governance and regulatory matters. Ivonne holds a BSc in Engineering and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business.

Corina Holmes

Group Head of People

Corina is an experienced global HR leader with over 25 years’ living and working extensively across EMEA, Asia and the Americas. She has worked for both large and complex companies in technology, pharmaceuticals, and financial services as well as smaller entrepreneurial start-up businesses.

Throughout her career Corina has led global HR teams in creating values-based company cultures, creating and leading employee engagement and development programs, and implementing reward and talent management strategies that support the achievement of business goals and objectives, together with acting as coach and mentor to senior leadership teams.

Corina joined Benchmark in January 2021 from Hyve Group Plc where she was Chief People Officer.

Barbara Hostins

Employee Representative

Barbara joined Benchmark in 2017 as part of the Innovations department of Advanced Nutrition. She works as an R&D scientist, contributing to product development in Health & Environment group. Barbara was appointed Employee Representative in June 2021, giving continuity to the role for strengthening the employee voice in the board room, in line with the new Corporate Governance guidelines. Barbara holds a PhD in Aquaculture from the Federal University of Rio Grande in Brazil, and the University of Ghent in Belgium.

Simon Hill

M&A Director

Simon joined Benchmark in 2014 after 20 years working as a business adviser within Arthur Andersen and a leading UK regional advisory practice. An Economics graduate with an interest in international trade, Simon qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1996 and then specialised in supporting clients through M&A and business change projects, both as an external adviser and through strategic corporate secondments.

Since joining Benchmark, Simon has assisted the board in the key acquisitions which have driven the establishment and growth of the Genetics and Nutrition divisions, and plays a leading role in acquisition, investment, refocusing and divestment projects throughout the Benchmark Group.

Morten Rye

Director of R&D and Innovation

Morten joined Benchmark in 2015 when Akvaforsk Genetics Center (AFGC) was acquired. He currently holds a dual role, as Director of Genetics in Benchmark Genetics, and newly appointed head of the cross-divisional Benchmark Innovation Board.

Morten earned his PhD in Animal Breeding at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences. Following a scientific career aquaculture genetics, he spent 15 years building AFGC into a major provider of genetic improvement services to aquaculture industries worldwide. He has authored or coauthored more than 60 scientific publications on quantitative genetics and selection applied to aquaculture species. After joining Benchmark he has been working with coordinating technical genetics services and R&D priorities across Benchmark Genetics.

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