Born in Africa, Nicola came to New Zealand as a 6 year old. Apart from a seven year spell, when she went with her family to the UK where she completed sixth form, Nicola did a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture at Nottingham University and travelled extensively through Europe and North America, she has lived in NZ ever since. Now having been a farmer for over 30 years, the Professor of Farm and Agribusiness Management at Massey University has carved out a fulfilling career in the agri-sector which sees her educating those entering the primary industries, holding multiple governance roles and involved in a diverse farming business in Manawatu's Pohangina Valley.
Nicola’s involvement in the agricultural industry throughout her career has seen her involved on-farm as much as off-farm. After returning to NZ to complete a Masters in Agri-Science majoring in Farm Management at Canterbury University (Lincoln College), Nicola then became a Farm Advisor (Economics) in the Canterbury region for MAF.
While dreaming of managing a large farming operation, Nicola and husband Shane decided to proactively do something about it and put an advertisement in the newspaper as a way of trying to find equity partners. They had the expertise and all they needed was a backer. Their approach paid off and after building up their business from scratch, they now have four farming and forestry equity partnerships and a complex arrangement of sharefarming arrangements within them. They also have three grown up sons to boot!
Nicola is also kept busy through research, teaching, international guest speaking and governance roles as well as giving back to the agricultural community. She has been judge for numerous ‘Farmer of the Year’ competitions and published the textbook “Farm Management in New Zealand” with Sandra Martin of Lincoln University. While having held a range of rural governance roles, she was the first elected woman board member at Fonterra. Her appreciation of both farmers and farm businesses and what it takes to make them successful is world leading.
Having a strategic perspective on global agribusiness, Nicola continues to contribute to the agri-sector in this space. She is continually inspiring students and has taken agribusiness education to another level by giving those in the sector exposure to global agriculture and food production. As one of the developers and facilitators of the three FAME (Food and Agribusiness Market Experience) courses, top NZ agribusiness people have been able to immerse themselves in some of New Zealand’s key export markets and have been exposed to leading academics and food and agribusiness executives.
Nicola is frequently requested to speak at international conferences on strategic issues in agribusiness on a regular basis. This has included the International Farm Comparison Network in Dairying where Nicola has attended as the NZ representative since 2001. An annual meeting of dairy specialists from over 45 countries, she is involved in discussions as to what is happening in the world of dairy and how farmers are responding to issues and events changing dairying worldwide.
Having developed a strong network of international colleagues, she is currently editor in two international journals and has been contracted by both the OECD and the EU for research and workshops on risk management (OECD NZ Expert for a 2010 report), agri-environmental indicators and cross comparison performance measurement. Nicola is a Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Primary Industry Management and the Australian Institute of Company Directors. More recently she received the 2017 Women of Influence Rural Award.
Nicola you have achieved a lot within many facets of the primary industries. We love that even though you have a lot of high level involvement within the sector, you still have time to nurture the all important grassroots and community.