After completing my degree at the University of Auckland I realised I was unsure what I wanted to do as my career. My original goal had been to continue my studies doing research on microbiology and molecular genetics; however, three years of university had left me eager to enter the workforce – and so I started looking for work. After a brief stint in a brewery I followed up on a Trade Me ad for a company called Dung Beetle Innovations, which focussed on mass rearing dung beetles as an environmental mitigation tool for agriculture. I was then contacted by my current boss, Andrew Barber, and told that he had a more interesting opportunity for me; to come and work at his horticulture consulting business as a consultant. I went on a ride along to see what the job entailed and very quickly accepted the offer.
Despite falling into a completely unexpected field, for which I had no experience, I thoroughly enjoy working in the horticultural sector. The interplay between biology, engineering and business makes it a fascinating industry with no shortage of unique areas to develop an interest in. My daily routine is often incredibly varied from one day to the next, with some days being spent entirely on the computer handling and analysing large sets of data, and with other days being spent in the field digging up soil cores and testing them in our lab back at the office. I’ve been lucky enough to travel to Wellington, Taupo, Tauranga, and the Hawkes Bay after having spent only a year and a half in the industry and I have also been lucky enough to have taken part in a large and varied amount of conferences, workshops, seminars and demonstrations.
If I could go back and do it all again, the only thing I would change would be to have put myself on a horticultural track straight out of school, perhaps studying agronomy or specialising in plant biology in university. Unfortunately, my school and university never particularly emphasised horticulture as a potential career, and I would advise current and future school leavers to do their own research into the potential careers in the horticulture sector, and to plan their future studies or work experience with that in mind.