Jenny Randall grew up on a sheep and beef farm at Muriwai 20mins south of Gisborne. Her parents, Robyn and Geoff Tombleson, created a great lifestyle for Jenny and her sister, to grow up in and they were always involved with what was happening on the farm. Her Dad used to save work for them to do after school that also involved riding their ponies. Her parents have a small Perendale stud, which Jenny has always enjoyed learning and being part of how they select rams, stud ewes and the fleeces, with the Tombleson's regular prize winners at the local A&P shows for their wool.
Jenny's love of the rural lifestyle, and the agricultural opportunities she knew were out there lead her to studying a Bachelor of Applied Science at Massey University. She spent her first summer out of uni working as a showjumping groom, but knew she had to get a more permanent job and put her degree into practice. So she headed off to Eastern Bay of Plenty to work for Ballance Agri-Nutrients as a technical sales rep, "I was quite a shy girl, who didn’t have a huge amount of confidence or experience talking with dairy farmers, and was moving to an area where I knew no one. However the training and support offered by Ballance was awesome and I soon landed on my feet, establishing a good network of friends, work colleagues and customers." Jenny found her confidence grew and she really loved the community and lifestyle the area offered, spending just under 3 years there before the travel bug got her.
Jenny based herself in fast paced London, spending 18 months working and travelling around Europe. While she enjoyed her time working as a PA in a busy London office, it was certainly different to the lifestyle she was used to. Taking every opportunity to walk, bike or run to work most days to get fresh air, and to avoid public transport.
On returning home, Jenny moved back to her parents place giving her time to weigh up her options. It was during this time that she met her future husband Paul, and was offered a job with Rabo Bank back in Whakatane. She wanted to give rural banking a go to see if it was the right fit for her. "I knew I couldn’t turn down a good job, once in the banking world opportunities seem to come up quite frequently, and as Paul was new on the scene I couldn’t let that hold me back! I really enjoyed Rabos culture and the people within the business, but Paul had a bigger hold on me than I thought, and I spent the next year travelling back to Gisborne each weekend."
With no transfer available at Rabo at the time, Jenny accepted a similar role with Westpac NZ and moved back to Gisbourne. The couple purchased their home and 34 hectares, ensuring their weekends were kept equally busy. They buy ewe hogget’s from Jenny's parents and sell them as two tooths in early January. A system that has been working really well for them, having topped or being near the top of the sale every year. Also fattening a few heifers and lambs. After two years at Westpac, Jenny was missing the outdoors and having a more hands on involvement with farmers. Lucky enough Ballance were expanding their Gisborne team, so she jumped at the opportunity be part of the organisation again. Jenny has spent the last 4 years on the road within a quite large and diverse territory, from Motu and Matawai, to the Poverty Bay Flats and the remoteness of the East Coast. She loves being out on the road discovering new places in her own back yard.
"Having grown up in Gisborne I thought I knew the region pretty well but being out on the road I have discovered all sorts of hidden gems, we do live in such an amazing country! Working with farmers is very rewarding, they are such humble people with big dreams and goals, helping them achieve their goals gives me a sense of pride and satisfaction. I love learning off farmers they all have something that I can take away with me, they are very passionate and despite what the media like to portray they are great caretakers of the land, they know that if they don’t take care of the land it won’t be there for future generations."
Jenny and Paul's lives are about to make the biggest change with their first child expected in July. While Jenny takes a years maternity leave from Ballance, she hopes to be able help Paul out with some of the admin work for their small but busy building company, along with keeping things going on their lifestyle block.
All the best for your next big adventure Jenny! A life in the primary Industries sounds like it was always on the cards, and you are making a pretty impressive go at it all!