Sophie Stanley realised very early on that she loves everything about the land. She grew up on a sheep and beef farm in Rangitaiki, Taupo. There was so much she loved about their rural lifestyle. Sophie remembers the limitless playground of barns and hills and fields, the night skies giving you views into galaxies far away and the sounds of birds chirping and sheep baa-ing. There was also the community too. Her local school had 30 kids and the sense of community in Rangitaiki was more like an extended family. Sophie's love for animals was beyond obsessive, with her Grandparents affectionately calling her the “Pied Piper” with her flock of lambs and calves (and cats) following her everywhere.
Fast forward ten years and Sophie graduated with the Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Science and a Bachelor of Business Studies in Economics. However she had one problem, she was painfully shy. She knew she had to do something to solve the problem. Sophie started as a Rural Bank Manager graduate at The National Bank in 2009 in Taranaki, after the big 2008 market crash which in the industry of banking was a big learning curve. Then later transferred up to Morrinsville where she spent 4 years working with some awesome farmers. This job enabled Sophie to turn from introvert to learned extrovert pretty quickly. "Some people still don’t believe me I was shy knowing me now."
During that time Sophie completed Kellogg Rural Leaders Course and studied New Zealand’s brand value in China. This sparked her interest in what future technology was doing in the agriculture sector and where we need to invest our energies. In 2013 she applied for the Nuffield Scholarship and was lucky to be one of five selected. "I was interested in how the emerging social media environment would impact the agriculture sector as a technology and spent a year researching this. After travelling globally to India, Southeast Asia, China, US, Canada, UK and Europe I observed the world changing, particularly in regards to technology."
Returning to New Zealand after a year away Sophie knew the corporate life wasn’t for her and went home to the family farm to work and consolidate her thoughts. Fate intervened six months later in which she met some of the founding investors of Figured. One conversation about what they were building and Sophie was sold. A few days later, she packed her bags to Auckland and started as the first employee in this tech startup.
"I am now the Vice President of Figured USA based in Omaha, Nebraska, leading our company’s growth into the US market. I started as the first employee of Figured 3 years ago, and we have grown to 40 employees in 3 countries in 3 years. We build farm management accounting software for the farm team (farmers, accountants and bankers). Our goal is to make farmers more profitable by creating easy to use software by focusing on profit, not just production. It’s been an incredible journey of all proportions, and it’s largely because we have an incredible team truly committed to the vision."
Sophie loves agriculture for its connection to family and food, that connects everyone in this world. And that if we can make that just a little bit better wherever we are, that we will be helping make the world a better place.
Technology is such an important part in todays world but more importantly the future. We are all on board with improving our systems to make the world around us a better place. Congratulations on your achievements Sophie!