Carla Clelland


Horticultural Consultant
Tell us about your background.

I was born in Gisborne and raised in Hawke’s Bay on a large lifestyle block with my two younger brothers; an idyllic upbringing for kiwi kids who loved to climb trees, build huts and explore the great outdoors. I attended Napier Girls’ High School and went on to gain formal qualifications at Massey University. Upon graduating, I spent nine years with AgFirst Consultants in Hawke’s Bay as a Horticultural Consultant, where I gained considerable knowledge and experience as part of their amazing team. A move to South Canterbury in 2013 provided a change of scene working in a business development role for a vertically integrated Pipfruit business, gaining valuable insight into packing and exporting logistics, and the Honeycrisp apple variety. In 2015 I had some time off after my second child was born, and then started my own business.

What do you do now?

I am self-employed, based in South Canterbury, doing horticultural consultancy and compliance work. I work with growers/farmers, pack-houses, exporters and industry organizations across a range of horticultural crops.

How did you get that role? What was the pathway to that?

The pathway to this role was a combination of things; recognising the knowledge and experience I had obtained in my career to date, the need for a flexible working arrangement, and a perceived gap in the market locally for the services that I could provide. I started small, assisting a couple of clients with Global G.A.P. accreditation, and the business has grown and diversified over time.

What’s the best thing about your role?

There are so many amazing things about my role; working with and meeting a range of different people, the huge variation in the tasks I do, being able to work both indoors and outdoors, always learning new things, and the flexibility and seasonality of the job. I also love being able to provide solutions for clients. For example, some clients find compliance really stressful and time consuming, so it is very rewarding to take care of this for them.

Do you travel much for the role ?

I have chosen at present to limit my work travel to Canterbury and the South Island. Historically I have worked on projects that involved domestic travel throughout New Zealand and was fortunate to spend some time in Bolzano, Northern Italy, as part of a young consultant exchange programme. Outside of work I am passionate about travel, and pre-COVID, have spent many off-season months pursuing this pastime and dragging my travel companions around foreign orchards and fruit markets!

If you have children how do/did you balance your job and family? What are/were the biggest issues? How did you deal with them?

I have two young children and it is difficult at times to balance work and family life. For me it is important to define ‘working time’ versus ‘family time’ and stick to this. I have chosen to work part time which means I can do the school pickups and spend the afternoons with my children, which is important to me. I have a fantastic network of friends and neighbours to lean on as well as a supportive partner, which helps during very busy times such as harvest.

Was being a woman a hindrance or a help in getting this role?

It made no difference from my standpoint.

Do you have any qualifications?

Yes – I have a Bachelor of Science (Horticultural Science) and Bachelor of Business Studies (Finance) from Massey University. I also have certification in agricultural greenhouse gas accounting, mitigation and emissions trading.

Did you require any specific education or training for this role?

I believe consultancy requires a mix of formal education and experience/on the job training.

Do you have any advice/tips for other women wanting a role like yours?

Don’t underestimate yourself. Put yourself forward for opportunities even if they are outside of your comfort zone; that is how you achieve personal growth. Look to people you admire or are inspired by, and have a mindset of constant learning.