For anyone who has ever been to Alexandra you’ll know the big clock on top of the hill. Travel up the cliff face, past the clock and down the narrow, winding gravel road for a good half hour and you will find Little Valley, where the Sanders name is synonymous with fine wool merino. Olivia Sanderswas born on Mt Campbell Station, the middle daughter of Steve and Vicki. As one of four children, she grew up as most kids on stations do; exploring valleys and gravel roads, making their own fun in what she describes as “the most un-PC ways possible”. As the children grew older, the decision was made to move from Little Valley while the children were at school to operations that were closer to more opportunities. It was when the family of six moved to Caterhope Estate in South Otago Olivia was able to start competing her horses, whom she had just ridden for fun growing up. With competitions during the weekend, training young horses after school, working on the farm and in the shearing sheds during the summer it was an upbringing that demanded a strong work ethic, responsibility and a genuine love of the land.
Olivia attended the New Zealand Broadcasting School with a Lions scholarship and idea that she would be able to make a difference for the New Zealand Primary Industries through journalism. However, having finished her degree and spending nine months in Auckland as a News Producer forCountry TV she soon realised that the influence she wanted to have was more realistic coming from a marketing chair. It was from here that she moved to the National Communications Coordinator role with New Zealand Young Farmers, a role that she says was incredibly fulfilling and really defined her career path.
“Being at NZYF bought my passion for youth in agriculture to the fore, it also made me really think about how our industry is portrayed to the wider New Zealand public. If we need 50,000 more workers in the industry by 2025 how do we achieve that? Where is the clear pipeline and how do we sell agriculture to 50,000 individuals?”
The role with NZYF was huge in that the organisation juggles a lot of balls, Olivia looked after the Communications, Marketing and Branding for the organisation along with, AgriKids, TeenAg, the Get Ahead project, Rural Business Network and Rural Mentor programme. At that time, she also had some involvement in the work NZYF was doing for the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP).
Olivia’s most recent role was the South Island Agri Partnership Manager for Fairfax Media where she looked after the South Island agri clients for the company. Her role was predominantly sales, a role she never dreamed she would be in let alone stick at for two years.
However, she wanted to get a deeper sense of commercial awareness and this role gave her “a really good holistic view of the industry which includes where our businesses are, where they want to go, how they want to get there and also, what is important and of value to them”.
Olivia has now stepped into the Marketing and Communications Manager role with @Farmside. This passionate agwoman say’s agriculture makes up who she is and is in every fibre of her being. She wants to make a difference for the industry that raised her and shaped who she is today.
Every year Olivia takes annual leave to go home for weaning and over the New Year break you will find her drenching lambs alongside her Dad. “I still love farming, I’m home each weekend possible to help with lambing and tailing - I love stock work but for me, right now, my ability to make a difference is near the city where I can influence those who are making decisions for our farmers and where I can help shift the perception of our industry.”
Over the next 5-10 years Olivia’s goal is to be able to run her own business remotely, from Mt Campbell station back on the farm with her family where it all started. Olivia is one passionate and powerful AgWoman and this quote sums her up nicely.
“I am passionate which makes me powerful and I am powerful because I am passionate”