New Chair for PICA

In February, Beef + Lamb NZ’s GM Innovation, Richard Wakelin was appointed as PICA’s Chair. He replaces our previous Chair Mark Paine (DairyNZ) who will retain his position as a board member until May. 

While Richard is new to his position as Chair, he is no newcomer to PICA or New Zealand’s primary sectors. Richard was involved in the initial working group that identified the need for a more collaborative approach to building capability across our primary sectors. He replaced Beef + Lamb’s Di Falconer as a PICA board member in August 2017 and has over 40 years’ experience in New Zealand’s sheep and beef industry. 

Richard has a strong background in wool, sheep genetics and breeding, and sheep and beef farming systems. In his current role at Beef + Lamb, Richard leads the development of strategy and investment in Research, Product Development, Extension Design and Sector Capability. 

Operating in an environment dominated by frequent change and a mobile workforce, Richard’s focus as PICA’s Chair is clear. “I want to help make it easier for people to choose a career in our primary sectors. It doesn’t matter at what level they choose to join us but it’s important that they have the ability to transfer their skills between sectors.”

Having worked throughout New Zealand for nearly 30 years in the commercial agricultural servicing sector, Richard is committed to being customer-centred. “We need to see career changers and students as customers. PICA members are also customers. They’re committed to PICA’s cause and contribute in many tangible and intangible ways. I’d like to ensure that they experience the many benefits of participating in the alliance.”

Richard believes that thinking and acting collaboratively is essential to PICA’s success. “We can target schools and school leavers relatively easily because we know where there are. But potential career changers? We (members) need to work smartly, and together, to attract young people working outside our sector who might already have the skills we need.”

Diversity is a factor Richard sees as important to PICA’s pan-sector approach. “We need to promote the fact that we (our primary sectors) think people are everything- an asset not a cost. We need to attract a diverse range of people with formal qualifications and informal experience, people academically and practically minded, and everyone in between. Someone with excellent skills in business or with people or policy are transferrable and valuable to every primary sector. If we can get this message across to students and career changers, we’ll all benefit.” 

Richard is convinced that the breadth and depth of PICA’s membership will only help grow and strengthen its position. 

“PICA plays a valuable role in facilitating the sharing of its members’ knowledge and skills,” he says. “The more we leverage off each other, the more we can access expertise we might not have in-house. For example, at Careers Expos or Get Ahead Days that see multiple members come together to tell our collective story. These events wouldn’t be possible if we didn’t all band together.”