Nicky Brown never thought that she’d end up gravitating towards a career in agriculture, let alone end up being back on a farm. Having spent her early years on farm and family connections to farming, being involved in the agricultural sector never crossed her mind. After graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce in Marketing Management and Tourism from Otago University, Nicky was set on pursuing a career in the city and travelling the world.
Her first role out of University was customer facing role in branch for The National Bank in Wellington with a goal of getting into the marketing department. After 8 months an opportunity came up in the Marketing and Communications team responsible for both The National Bank and ANZ brands. It was here whilst working on marketing projects for the rural segment that Nicky began to grow an appreciation and discovered a greater affinity toward the rural sector. “I got to work with some great people and rural teams out in the regions”. She was also lucky to work on large rural marketing projects and sponsorships such as The Young Farmer Contest and National Fieldays at Mystery Creek.
After a stint overseas working and travelling, Nicky returned to the Bank and Marketing team before moving into the Rural team to solely work on projects for them. It was during this time she decided to further pursue a career in agribusiness and became a student again heading to Massey University Palmerston North to complete a Postgraduate Diploma. Nicky developed an interest in international agribusiness, agri-food marketing and value chains. She then found herself presented with other opportunities such as researching and writing a case study for the International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMAwww.ifama.org) conference held in Shanghai that year. Whilst studying full time, Nicky was also involved in helping to organise the Young Farmer Grand Final held in Masterton. This is where she met her husband Tom.
These days Tinui is home for Nicky where she and Tom farm a 600ha hill country property running sheep and beef. A partnership that works to each other’s strengths on and off farm, they are also kept on their toes with two young children. Their overall aim is to build a robust profitable and sustainable family business. “Family is an important part of our business – it’s why we do what we do. We are really fortunate that farming allows us to give our children a rural upbringing in a strong local community”.
To date Tom and Nicky have been concentrating on developing their farm through genetic gains, improving soil fertility and developing pastures. They are also up for trying different things to enhance their current operation. This has seen them be early adopters of different on-farm technology with the majority of their sheep EID tagged. In 2013 they imported an Ile De France (IDF) ram from Australia to trial different genetics that are not common place in New Zealand. “Tom is really interested in genetics. The IDF offered strong traits in meat yield, eating quality, high growth to weaning and improved wool quality/value in a summer dry climate like ours”. The IDF’s are only part of the picture. This season has seen Tom and Nicky buy some SIL recorded Romney ewes which will grow the genetics side of their business. “For us this is an awesome opportunity to get into the ram breeding game and grow our knowledge and skills in this area. It also fits well with our family business as we get to work with my father who has over 40 years’ experience in breeding rams.”
Wearing one of many hats on farm, Nicky also likes keep her hand in the sector off farm as well. She works from home on different projects and enjoys ones in particular that get her involved in the supply and value chain space and directly dealing with farmers. She has also just volunteered to help collect profiles for AgWomen Global. ”It is such a great initiative to help promote agriculture and food production in a positive light. And it is no mean feat to collect 365 stories to release one a day for a year. There are so many people in this sector doing great things – it’s a really good industry to be a part of.”
Nicky you sound like you have a lot on your plate however, we bet you are juggling it all like the real AgWomen you are. We are glad you are so satisfied with your career in agriculture and we are glad to have you as part of the team.