News from GrowingNZ

New CE for GrowingNZ

30 January 2017

The work of presenting career opportunities in the primary industries will be in new hands this year.  

Dr Michelle Glogau takes over from Andy Somerville as CE of GrowingNZ on 13 February.

GrowingNZ is an alliance of major players in the primary industries, including industry bodies, education providers and government agencies. It is working to ensure that suitably qualified people are available to help grow New Zealand’s primary sector. 

Over the past two years Somerville has developed a strong collaborative approach to engage young people with a compelling message, says Mark Paine, the chairman of the Alliance.

Michelle Glogau was the CEO of BioGro for 8 years, developing it to become New Zealand’s leading organic certifier. She is a Ph.D.-qualified scientist (in Botany) and has also worked in educational services and research roles. She brings experience of working with stakeholders ranging from producers and exporters to regulators and educators.


A young person's view on working in the primary industries

16 November 2016

Being told it would be “a waste of my intelligence” didn’t stop Brigitte Ravera from pursuing a job in the primary industries and she is very pleased she did.    

She was one of four young people who recounted their career journeys in the primary industries during a well-received session at the 2016 CATE Conference. The three-day event for Careers Advisers and Transition Educators was held in Hamilton in November, with a “pasture to plate” theme.

Conference delegates have been “very positive” about the GrowingNZ session says CATE National President, Jane Thomas. “They certainly did the primary industries proud with their presentations.”

Andy Somerville of GrowingNZ says it was a great opportunity to prove that talented students should be looking at the primary industries. “The four presenters were students who had a lot of choices available. They now have rewarding careers in the primary industries, and there are plenty like them!”

Three of the four panellists during the GrowingNZ session told the audience they received sufficient scholarships while studying to come away with money in the bank.


Tom Woutersen received around $25,000 in scholarships and completed three summer internships while studying for a science degree majoring in agriscience. “It has opened a lot of doors for me,” he said.

He gained a graduate role with Westpac, became an analyst and then took a relationship management role. He is the bank’s point of contact for 30 farm businesses, with a portfolio of more than $100 million in lending.

“This is a great role where we get to help people to achieve their farming goals, work with a great team and also get paid well to do it,” he said.

The 26-year-old advised that students should build networks and relationships, view a job as an opportunity, and keep learning.”

Nadine Huitema explained that she didn’t even know the job animal nutritionist existed when she was at school. As a student with interests in science and business, she came “close” to going into medicine but then realised “agriculture is where the jobs are”.

She said a breakthrough moment early on was realising that to do a google search for science roles she should include the word “technical… Then you get lots of hits.”

She studied general science, completing a Masters degree with a focus on dairy goat science. Now working for PGG Wrightson, she describes her job as “a dietician for animals”. She admitted it can be “nerdy”, showing a diet balancing table.

The 29-year-old’s work includes running training sessions for farmers and the company’s field reps. “Your technical skills may get you in the door, but I believe the people skills are more important once you are there,” she said.

She gets out and about, working across the North Island. She recently enjoyed travelling to Italy for professional development, looking into sheep and goat milking.

She advised students to regard “every idea as potentially a good idea”.

At an urban private girls’ school, teachers actively discouraged Brigitte Ravera from pursuing a career related to agriculture. She dutifully considered medicine, but as a kid who “wanted to be a farmer since I was three” that was where her heart was.

Some teachers did not hold back from sharing strongly negative views. “One said I would be throwing away the opportunities my parents had given me and another said it would be a waste of my intelligence. Luckily we had an enlightened careers adviser who could see where agriculture could take me.”

She completed a Honours degree in Agricultural Science and got the opportunity to spend 10 months at Cornell University.

The 23-year-old describes her role with DairyNZ as a consulting officer for 600 farms in New Zealand’s largest industry as “awesome”.

“A big part of the job is running farmer discussion groups… It’s a cooperative industry so the aim is for everyone to do well. We come up with solutions for how they can be more profitable and sustainable and so on. My role is not to tell but to facilitate.”

As an outdoors person keen on hunting, tramping and mountain biking, Angus McKenzie stumbled upon forestry management at a careers expo and realised it would be a good match.

He is frustrated by how little New Zealanders know about what happens in the forestry industry. “People tend to think it’s just about cutting down trees.”

He gave an overview of forestry in New Zealand that showed a diversity of roles, including liaising with landowners about plantings right through to forest management and marketing. An emerging new area of expertise is the use of forestry-specific software to improve efficiency of tree growth, for engineering and spatial mapping.

His own role with consulting firm PF Olsen involves managing the harvesting operations – “which is a form of project management… Typically, it’s 28 years from seedling to harvest and you only get one shot so it has to be done right.” He manages each step of the harvest process, including developing harvest plans, road engineering and contractor management.


GrowingNZ speakers at the CATE Conference (from left): Angus McKenzie - a harvest manager for PF Olsen, Brigitte Ravera - a consulting officer with DairyNZ, Tom Woutersen - an agribusiness manager for Westpac, and Nadine Huitema - an animal nutritionist with PGG Wrightson.


Over $3.5 million a year to grow primary industries talent

2 May 2016

Young Kiwis with an interest in the primary industries can apply for over $3.5 million in study assistance each year, says Andy Somerville of GrowingNZ.

GrowingNZ is representing the primary industries at the upcoming national Career Expo series.

GrowingNZ’s new directory presents more than 150 types of scholarship offered by a wide range of organisations. These are targeted at secondary-level students to help them in their next step, or to students on tertiary courses.

“This adds up to nearly 1000 individual scholarships being handed out each year.

“The common factor is that all these scholarships are for young people with an interest in helping take quality food and fibre to the world, or working with water, land, plants or animals – which is what the primary industries are about.

“We have many challenges and opportunities – such as reducing our environmental footprint. We are looking to young people to help shape the future of these important industries, which earn about 70% of New Zealand’s export income each year.

“The roles range from water scientists and robotics engineers to food safety specialists and the farmers of the future who will work with sophisticated technologies. 

“And the scholarships focus on different personal strengths or subject areas, so every young person should have a look to see what could be there for them.

“For students and their families wanting to know more about the primary industries, we will be at the Career Expos coming up in Christchurch, Auckland, Hamilton and Wellington in May and June.”

The scholarships directory is on the GrowingNZ website

GrowingNZ is an initiative of the Primary Industry Capability Alliance, a membership organisation. The members are: DairyNZ, Beef+Lamb NZ, Ministry for Primary Industries, NZ Young Farmers, Primary ITO, Lincoln University, Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre, Ara Institute of Canterbury, Foundation for Arable Research and Forest Owners Association.


Use these directories to find scholarships, activities and resources.


Read latest GrowingNZ News

GrowingNZ Curriculum Network

Upcoming events (View all & search)
Christchurch Teachers Day Out
PICA Research Forum on human capability in the Primary Industries