THE COMPANY

Mountain Hazelnuts is a dedicated team of agricultural, business, and development professionals determined to build a world-class, triple bottom-line venture and a major player in the global hazelnut market. The Company directly employs over 600 people and provides income generation opportunities for many other service providers and contractors.

CREATING EMPLOYMENT AND BUILDING CAPACITY

Mountain Hazelnuts invests in capacity development and mentorship. Since 2009, the Company has grown from a small business to one of Bhutan's largest companies, through hiring people who have the energy, talent, and dedication to make significant contributions to their communities. Many employees have grown from entry level roles to running large teams and developing innovative solutions within their area of specialty. The Company uses its training programs to attract quality employees who want to learn professional skills and to create a replicable model for other companies.

LEARNING ORGANIZATION

From nursery workers and field monitors to highly trained technical specialists and coders - the team is as diverse as its challenges. Thus, training programs range from natural sciences, such as soil chemistry and integrated pest management, to workplace productivity and developing management skills. All focus on personalized development.

 

EMPOWERING WOMEN, FULFILLING POTENTIAL

Promoting female leadership and gender equality is particularly important to success, both within the Company and in the communities. The Women’s Leadership Initiative mentors Mountain Hazelnuts’ growing number of female managers. Close to half of the employees are female, with a workplace culture that emphasizes equality and respect between men and women. Effective female managers and successful women farmers become powerful examples to their communities and create positive multi-generational impacts.


LEADERSHIP

“During the 1970s, I spent three years in the Himalayan region, immersed in local communities. While I was inspired by the depth of the culture and the beauty of the environment, I was struck by the fragility of these human and natural systems. This inspired me to start Mountain Hazelnuts as a sustainable venture that would benefit all stakeholders.”

“During the 1970s, I spent three years in the Himalayan region, immersed in local communities. While I was inspired by the depth of the culture and the beauty of the environment, I was struck by the fragility of these human and natural systems. This inspired me to start Mountain Hazelnuts as a sustainable venture that would benefit all stakeholders.”

Daniel Spitzer, Chairman & CEO

Daniel has founded and led several companies in Asia that have successfully combined financial objectives with social and environmental goals, including Plantation Timber Products Group (PTP), which he built into China’s largest sustainable forestry company. PTP established $200 million of new facilities to process logs grown by 700,000 farmer partners in deforested Himalayan foothills and vulnerable river regions in the interior of China.

Daniel started his career in finance, and was Partner & Managing Director of a major private investment fund and Managing Director of a global merchant bank. He received a BA from University of California, Berkeley and an MA from Stanford University.

 

 

“Almost half of our staff are women - they and the other young staff have seized the opportunity for employment, training, and career development that they wouldn't have elsewhere.”

“Almost half of our staff are women - they and the other young staff have seized the opportunity for employment, training, and career development that they wouldn't have elsewhere.”

TERESA LAW, CFO

Teresa worked in banking for 20 years, including senior roles for JP Morgan and Citibank in Hong Kong, the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, and the USA.

Prior to joining Mountain Hazelnuts, Teresa served as Chair of a development organization that works with HIV-impacted communities in China through social programs and income generation schemes. She received a BA from Westmont College and an MBA from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business.

 

 

“It is gratifying to build a large-scale and professional operation in a very remote location in balance with a unique culture and environment, with young professionals eager to learn new skills.”

It is gratifying to build a large-scale and professional operation in a very remote location in balance with a unique culture and environment, with young professionals eager to learn new skills.”

DR. SEAN WATSON, MANAGING DIRECTOR

Sean has been based in Bhutan for five years, where he oversees Mountain Hazelnut’s agricultural operations. He has worked with the Company since 2006 on a range of assignments in China and Bhutan, including orchard development, land surveying, and environmental analysis. Sean has twenty years of experience working on agricultural and infrastructure projects, focusing on environmental, logistical, and operational issues. He received a BSc from University of Bristol and Ph.D. in Genetics from University of Sheffield.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“While serving as MP, I heard a good deal about this company - its work with farmers was often on my mind. I appreciated its social mandate, which I thought could make a real difference in the lives of farmers while building a successful business.”

“While serving as MP, I heard a good deal about this company - its work with farmers was often on my mind. I appreciated its social mandate, which I thought could make a real difference in the lives of farmers while building a successful business.”

LHATU, DIRECTOR OF FIELD & COMMUNITY SERVICES

Lhatu serves as a Director of Mountain Hazelnuts, playing a key role in stakeholder relations and strategy. He spent eight years with the UN Development Program, where he was Operations Director for Bhutan. He also served in various other capacities, including Marketing Director at Bhutan Agro Industries Ltd. Lhatu was elected as a Member of Parliament in the National Assembly, where he served from 2008-2013. He earned a BCom in Commerce and a postgraduate degree in Business Management and Specialized Marketing Management.


 

 

TEAM PROFILES

"I close the door to the past, open a new door to the future, take a deep breath, step through and start a new chapter in my life.  I like new challenges to face, new memories to make, and new obstacles to overcome and that was the main reason I chose to join Mountain Hazelnuts."

"I close the door to the past, open a new door to the future, take a deep breath, step through and start a new chapter in my life.  I like new challenges to face, new memories to make, and new obstacles to overcome and that was the main reason I chose to join Mountain Hazelnuts."

Yangchen pelden

Yangchen Pelden, Planning and Human Resources Manager, has wide exposure and experience in development projects in Bhutan, other Asian countries, and Europe. Yangchen joined Mountain Hazelnuts after working on various poverty alleviation and gender issue related programs, most recently as Officiating Head of the National Women’s Association of Bhutan. She received a BA from Rohilkhand University in India and advanced training in Denmark, Japan, South Korea, and other countries.

 

 

 

 

 

 
“I have never experienced a place as pristine as Bhutan, with pure Himalayan water and rich natural soils.”  

“I have never experienced a place as pristine as Bhutan, with pure Himalayan water and rich natural soils.”  

HENry meng xian xin

Henry Meng has served as Mountain Hazelnuts’ International Sales and Project Manager since 2013. Previously, Henry was Project Manager for H.J Heinz Global Agriculture for a decade developing GAP, Organic, and Traceable agricultural products. Henry received his B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Agronomy from North East Agricultural University in Harbin, China, where he continues to work on his Ph.D. in the field.


 
“The scale of the nursery operation, the first of its kind in the world, makes it an ideal place for me to test my scientific and managerial skills. I am proud that our team has achieved outstanding results and continually improving plant survival and health.”

“The scale of the nursery operation, the first of its kind in the world, makes it an ideal place for me to test my scientific and managerial skills. I am proud that our team has achieved outstanding results and continually improving plant survival and health.”

DR. GURBAKHASH KAHLON

Dr. Kahlon, who oversees nursery operations, brings extensive experience in agriculture and management experience. He received his BA, MA, and PhD in Pomology from Punjab Agricultural University, where he then worked for over twenty years, ultimately, as Head of the Department of Horticulture. He interrupted his academic career to serve as General Manager of PepsiCo’s major citrus project, in which he worked with thousands of smallholder farmers to grow four million citrus trees. He also led the introduction of seven fruit varieties he developed including mango, litchi, pear, peach, plum, grapes, guava, and citrus.


 

 

 

“The development and use of smartphones to enable our field staff to support farmers growing hazelnuts has been fulfilling. And I enjoy the enthusiasm and willingness that the team has to fully engage with new ideas in a demanding job.”  

“The development and use of smartphones to enable our field staff to support farmers growing hazelnuts has been fulfilling. And I enjoy the enthusiasm and willingness that the team has to fully engage with new ideas in a demanding job.”  

PETER CREES

An engineer by training, Peter oversees Mountain Hazelnuts Processing & Support Services Department. Previously he served as a project manager and consultant on major agriculture and environmental projects throughout Asia, including managing field operations for H.J. Heinz Global Agriculture. Peter received a BS from the University of Nottingham with a First Class Honours degree in Civil Engineering.

       

 

 

 

   

“Since I joined Mountain Hazelnuts at the start, I was able to learn the processes and procedures the company is following from scratch. I have always appreciated that every member of staff is treated equally, regardless of her or his position.”

Since I joined Mountain Hazelnuts at the start, I was able to learn the processes and procedures the company is following from scratch. I have always appreciated that every member of staff is treated equally, regardless of her or his position.”

JIGME GYELTSHEN     

Jigme Gyeltshen, Finance and Administration Manager, has extensive experience managing corporate accounting and operational finance for national organizations. Prior to joining Mountain Hazelnuts, Jigme worked with Royal Thimphu College, Bhutan’s first private university, establishing its accounting system and control procedures. He also spent nine years at Bhutan Postal Corporation Limited as Chief Accountant and System Administrator, where he implemented their national ERP system. Jigme led the Company's conversion to International Financial Reporting Standards, as Mountain Hazelnuts became Bhutan's first company to embrace this global accounting standard.

 

 

 

 

JOEL KEHLE, CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICER

Joel has worked in IT for 28 years, including leading roles in several innovative startup companies in Silicon Valley, New York City, and Los Angeles. Before Mountain Hazelnuts, Joel worked at multinational wireless semiconductor company Qualcomm to develop their cloud computing strategy. He received a BS in Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

 
“With hazelnuts, our farmers can be more self-sufficient. We can also help prevent deforestation and soil erosion. It’s also helping our jobless graduates get different experiences – and brings us back to the rural villages."

“With hazelnuts, our farmers can be more self-sufficient. We can also help prevent deforestation and soil erosion. It’s also helping our jobless graduates get different experiences – and brings us back to the rural villages."

TENZIN CHODEN

Tenzin Choden manages the Quality Control division, which serves as an in-house consultancy and internal auditor, improving all departments, ranging from nursery operations and outreach to Financing & Accounting. She began her professional career with Mountain Hazelnuts, and has moved up the ranks quickly as she has learned how to work with various teams and stakeholders to maintain consistently high standards throughout the Company. She earned a BSc in Nutrition and Dietetics from Bharathiar University in India.

 

 

 

 

“I like figuring out how to put things together. Given the logistics and constraints, it can be challenging to get the right materials on time, but learning how to adapt and improvise is always interesting.”

“I like figuring out how to put things together. Given the logistics and constraints, it can be challenging to get the right materials on time, but learning how to adapt and improvise is always interesting.”

SONAM WANGDI

Sonam Wangdi oversees construction for Mountain Hazelnuts: he and his team built and maintain all structures, from greenhouses to the office. After a long and diverse career in store management, procurement, and logistics, he spent six years working in construction before joining Mountain Hazelnuts as one of the earliest employees. He is responsible for numerous design innovations related to the Spanish-style greenhouses in the nurseries.

 

 

 

 

 

“Trying to establish this new tree in Bhutan, and proposing new agricultural business models to subsistence farmers is practically and scientifically challenging to me. Luckily, I have a great team with strong science backgrounds, who are growing in new capacities and share a commitment to the job."

Trying to establish this new tree in Bhutan, and proposing new agricultural business models to subsistence farmers is practically and scientifically challenging to me. Luckily, I have a great team with strong science backgrounds, who are growing in new capacities and share a commitment to the job."

SONAM RABTEN

Sonam Rabten manages the team of Regional Extension Officers, who provide technical and agronomic support to farmers. Prior to joining Mountain Hazelnuts, he worked as a reporter for “Bhutan Today.” He holds a BSc in Botany from the North Eastern Hill University in India and an MA in Social Change and Conservation from the Future Generations Graduate School in the USA.

 

 

 

 

“We are literally raising millions of trees that will improve incomes for thousands of farmers.”

“We are literally raising millions of trees that will improve incomes for thousands of farmers.”

KINLEY WANGCHUK

Kinley Wangchuk is the deputy manager of Mountain Hazelnuts’ main nursery in Lingmethang. He grew up on a small farm nearby, where his parents still live. After finishing twelfth grade, he worked in various roles before hearing about the newly-formed Mountain Hazelnuts. He joined the Company as one of the first employees, and had to take on many unfamiliar operational responsibilities. Kinley has taken each new challenge in stride, developing a solid knowledge of nursery management, inventory control, and environmental oversight.

 

 

 

 

“Working with our team always presents opportunities to gain and learn more: the transparency of the system here makes people want to take part.”

“Working with our team always presents opportunities to gain and learn more: the transparency of the system here makes people want to take part.”

PEMA DECHEN

Pema Dechen serves as the Company’s Planning Officer, playing a key role in political and media relations and corporate management. She received a BA in Economics and Geography from Sherubtse College in Trashigang, Bhutan.

 

 

 

 

 

"Evaluating and assessing monitor performance remotely is a very challenging task, which would not be feasible without our well-developed systems, large monitoring team, and innovative technological solutions."

"Evaluating and assessing monitor performance remotely is a very challenging task, which would not be feasible without our well-developed systems, large monitoring team, and innovative technological solutions."

PEMA TENZIN

Pema Tenzin was Mountain Hazelnuts' first Bhutanese employee after graduating from Srinivas Institute of Technology in India, where he received a BS in Computer Technology. After joining the Company as Outreach Coordinator, he now manages more than 100 employees in his capacity as Chief Monitoring Officer. Pema has received extensive overseas training in Sustainable Agriculture and Products conducted by the Danish Agricultural Advisory Service.

 

 

 

 

ADVISORS

KADOLA, COMMUNITY & STAKEHOLDER ADVISOR

Kadola leads Mountain Hazelnuts’ Outreach and Advocacy work throughout Bhutan. Previously, he spent over forty years with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, most recently as Senior Administrative Officer of the Renewable Natural Resources Research Center at Wengkhar in Eastern Bhutan. He played a key role developing apple, potato, mango, and rice cultivation techniques during his time with the Ministry. He is fluent in several local languages and is considered by many in the Ministry to be one of the most effective community outreach and mobilization experts in the country. He has also served as interim Dzongda (Governor) for Mongar District.

Andrew Watson close up1.jpg

DR. ANDREW WATSON, Chief Scientist

Andrew is Mountain Hazelnuts’ Chief Scientist, and has advised the company since its inception. He has spent more than forty years developing and managing significant agri-businesses in twenty countries. He has worked with major international food companies such as H.J. Heinz, Pepsi Foods, and Simplot. Andrew has spent half of his time working for Mountain Hazelnuts since November 2005. He received a BSc from Cambridge University and a PhD from University of California, Berkeley.

 

 

 

JUSTIN FINNEGAN, Director

After working for Mountain Hazelnuts in Bhutan for four years, Justin now serves as a Director of the Company. He started his career in agriculture as a Fulbright and Trustman Scholar researching sustainable farming in Himalayan villages. Later, Justin helped develop the Asian operations of a leading global textile firm, where he gained operational experience. He served as a White House Fellow during 2013-2014. Justin received an AB from Harvard College and an MBA from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.