Leah was raised on her family dairy farm in Whenuakura, South Taranaki and studied Food Science specialising in Food Microbiology. She commenced work for Tegel Poultry as a lab technician in 1986 and after four years, was managing their New Plymouth micro and serological laboratory plus overseeing three other laboratories throughout NZ.
Leah studied whilst working, finishing her studies in 1992. During this time Leah married and her first son was born. The family moved to Gisborne in 1991 and she worked for Asahi Prepared Foods as Laboratory Manager. During that time she designed and oversaw the building of a new laboratory.
In 1994, the family was expecting their second son and made the decision that they wanted their boys to be raised in a rural environment - on a farm like she had been. So in June 1991, four months before Shayle was born, the family moved to Stratford and took on a Farm Managers job on a 120 cow dairy farm. The following year they moved to a 500 cow managers job in Waverley.
In June 1996, with the backing of Leah’s family, they purchased 250 cows and moved to a 50/50
Sharemilking position in Kaikoura.
“It was a huge move, leaving all our family behind and starting a fresh. It was a great move for our family, we spent nine years in Kaikoura; seven as Sharemilkers moving up to 450 cows and then two years leasing a dairy farm.
“Our boys were able to experience everything Kaikoura had to offer…swimming with dolphins, whale watching, visiting the seal colony, regular trips to the Mt Lyford ski field…all these things were provided through their rural school.”
In 1997 Leah was approached by Ambreed NZ to take on the position of Sales Rep in the Kaikoura area. She had never worked in sales before and Ambreed provided a great sales training programme. During
her time with Ambreed she trained as an AI technician and took on the AIing of their own dairy herd.
”My skillset just seemed to have grown without me being aware, I was the admin/human
resources/relief milker/AI tech and chief calf rearer for our farming business, mum of two very
active boys, on the Board of Trustees for our primary school, President of the local Pony Club and Convenor of the local Boys and Girls Agricultural Club as well as working part time for Ambreed!”
In 2008 she was offered the position of Otago Regional Sales Manager, for the now CRV Ambreed Company.
“I had an amazing team of Sales Field Consultants and AI Technicians. I loved working with dairy farmers, supporting them with their breeding programme and herd improvement. I’ve always had a passion for breeding and raising quality dairy stock and that passion has carried with me into my current roles.”
In 2010 Leah commenced working for Peter Walsh and Associates as their Dairy Livestock Broker in the Otago area. She was the first female broker the company had ever employed, and one of only a handful of female Livestock brokers in the South Island. This was a start-up position. PW&A had not had a broker in the Otago area previous and had no existing clients in the area. Just as well Leah enjoys a challenge! After four years she had a well established clientele.
“One of the contracts I secured was supplying approx. 3000 4 day old Friesian bull calves to two calf rearing operations. These calves were reared to 100kg and then contracted for purchase to AFFCO NZ. The calves were sourced from some of the best Friesian dairy herds throughout Canterbury/North Otago, Tairei and South Otago. Each individual calf was personally inspected by myself before collection and delivered during the months of Aug/Sept each year. I built a reputation of sourcing and supplying healthy, good sized genuine Friesian calves.”
After Leah’s marriage ended, they sold their Sharemilking business and she had a reassessment of life. She decided she needed another challenge and some diversity so did two things…in 2013 she purchased a Hair Salon in the small rural town of Milton and in 2014 was offered the position of Business Development Manager for New Zealand Grazing South, a dairy heifer grazing management company covering Otago/Southland.
”The Hair Salon was a great learning opportunity, I had no retail /service experience, knew nothing
about the beauty industry or cutting hair. I loved the environment. It was so far removed from
farming and allowed me to expand my skillset. I love the contrast and diversity it offers me. My staff manage the day to day running of the Salon, whilst I take care of the admin, human resources,
ordering, wages and accounts.”
Since starting with NZGSouth Leah has become a 50% shareholder and Director in the company.
“I have really enjoyed bringing the business from its infancy into a viable company with a solid client base, many who have been with us from the start.”
So the future..…well as you may have noticed, Leah likes a challenge and isn’t afraid to get out of her
comfort zone. She always enjoyed helping others meet life’s challenges head on and she would like to be able to use her life experiences and skills to assist others in the pursuit of their goals and dreams.
“I have just completed a Certificate in Life Coaching and my current business coach has offered to be my coaching mentor to further enhance my coaching skills…where this will eventually take me is yet to be determined. I’m very excited about the possibilities.. watch this space!!”
You are one inspiring AgWomen Leah. It shows that if you put your mind to it you can tackle anything. Nothing is a real challenge if you have the right attitude. It also shows that giving yourself permission to be involved in a plethora of different things isn’t a bad thing! We really do wonder what you’ll be sinking your teeth into next. Nice work.