Introducing Dalena White, IWTO's New Secretary General

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Introducing Dalena White, IWTO's New Secretary General 

Dalena White, born and raised in Robertson, South Africa, recently moved to Brussels for her new appointment as Secretary General of IWTO. We sat down with her and asked her some questions.

How did you get to know IWTO?

I was the Marketing Consultant for Cape Wools South Africa, which is a member of IWTO. I read about the position, applied online, went through the process and was appointed.

You moved from South Africa to Belgium to work for IWTO. How do you like Brussels?

I have been busy at work, but I really enjoy exploring my new neighbourhood during weekends. The quaint architecture and green public spaces are my favourites so far and I just love walking amongst the ancient trees scattered through the many parks in Brussels. The business district reminds me a lot of Cape Town city centre and the efficient public transport options are an absolute joy. I find the local Brusselaars friendly and considerate and there is an outdoor, active culture, which is very similar to South Africa. Brussels is a truly cosmopolitan city and offers something for everyone.

What are some of your personal interests?

I am a true animal lover and I had many different pets when I was younger, from a little lamb to dogs and chickens. Growing up in a wine producing country and my father being a wine farmer, It comes as no surprise I enjoy wine and its culture very much. My favourite red wine remains Pinotage, while I also enjoy a cold, crisp Methode Champenoise or Belgian Weiss Beer. I am really happy walking in nature and I enjoy gardening. I'm currently growing some lettuce, tomatoes and geraniums. I also enjoy wool craft, playing with wool yarn or crochet and knitting for friends and family.

What makes you the perfect woman for the job?

I studied Fashion Design and worked as a designer and merchandiser for different design studios and clothing factories in Cape Town. I have worked closely with wool growing, manufacturing and retailing issues over the past seven years and I understand the end consumer's wishes and the customer's demands. I love wearing, walking, sleeping and playing with wool, so I guess this makes me a very passionate 'wool ambassador' in my personal life. [laughs]

What would you like to accomplish with your position at IWTO?

I would like to focus on strengthening the IWTO's role as a catalyst for growth in the wool industry. When a business joins IWTO, the information they receive through our website, member lounge, congresses and research findings, should benefit that business and enable it to prosper. I would like IWTO to support our retail partners with information and services to grow wool textile sales through their outlets. Last but not least, I want this organisation and its members to be known as the custodians of the wool sheep and the planet they are raised on.

What are some of the issues in the wool industry you would like to tackle at IWTO?

What makes the wool fibre tricky in the textile industry is the particularly long pipeline it has to move through and the standards each process has to adhere to.

IWTO is the custodian of all these standards and we have to ensure that our members are informed about any issues that might have an effect on the pipeline, from the farm to the shop floor and beyond. I would like to ensure that we promote the harvest and manufacturing of wool textiles in a responsible manner and guard against any wool trade barriers that might arise. The world we live in is ever changing and I wish to keep this organisation and its members relevant and forward thinking.

What's the most interesting aspect since you started at IWTO?

The focus seems to change daily and I have had some very interesting questions on my desk, such as what is the proven temperature wool felt ignites at, why the performance of wool carpets are not measured properly at the moment, how to best care for our wool sheep and their environment and the most effective way to communicate new and exciting wool science results to consumers.

...Oh yes, and I now understand the term ‘European Summer’ much better, as it has been raining almost every day. [laughs]

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