Leigh Catley describes herself as a primary sector advocacy junkie. Leigh has worked for more than seven different associations throughout her almost 30 year career and says the best thing about working in advocacy is that "you are always trying to convince people you are right".
"We are always telling other people that they should be thinking more like we do! It's an entertaining way to work".
Leigh says she pinched the idea for her first career option when she was 12 years old from a mate who wanted to be a journalist. Ten years of journalism segued into about eight more years in media management, sales and marketing. Eventually she walked away from the media business and joined what she calls 'the dark side' (public relations) while living in Australia. But she really only wanted to work for the primary sector in New Zealand, so waited for the right job to come along.
Horticulture New Zealand provided her with an opportunity which kept her thinking about fruit and vegetable growers every day for almost 10 years. Now Leigh is the general manager of communications & marketing at Federated Farmers, where she says "there's never a dull moment, in fact a few dull moments would be nice!"
"The primary sector is central to New Zealand's success, and Kiwis are proud of how good we are at farming sustainably, without fuss and with much international acclaim. It's great being a small part of that".
She says that proving value to memberships is challenging, but rewarding when you get it right. Leigh works with a lot of people who are passionate about farming, but she admits despite her respect for the importance of New Zealand's primary sector, she is more passionate about the brand she works for, and being a good advocate.
"I'm proud to be working for a brand that has lasted 118 years. The team I work with are making sure the Federated Farmers brand stays strong, credible and viable."
Her goal at work is to have everyone she works with go away thinking 'ok, that's what good comms looks like'. Outside of work she enjoys every minute spent with the people close to her. This often involves wine, chocolate and MySky, which we think is a pretty good combination for any hard working woman.
Keep up the great work you are doing Leigh, Federated Farmers is lucky to have you.