Eve Williams

Primary ITO
Eve Williams
Tell us about your background.

My family moved to NZ when I was seven and I grew up in Masterton before moving to Wellington to study at Victoria University where I spent six years working towards my Bachelors, Honours and Masters Degrees in English Literature, specifically in the treatment of women in Eighteenth Century poetry. It all seems very irrelevant I know, but my philosophy is that university is a chance to learn indiscriminately, rather than worrying aout what is useful. It would be great if they intersect but it doesn’t really matter.

After university I went back to the UK for six months, and then came back and started an administration role in the natural resources team at Horticulture New Zealand. After two years of that I moved into a policy analyst and business manager role for NZ Asparagus Council.

What do you do now?

I’m the sector lead marketing for horticulture, schools, and food processing at Primary ITO.

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

What really spun my wheels at HortNZ was managing Young Grower of the Year and managing the RSE and horticulture conferences. ‘People’ is my jam, so when I saw a role at the ITO, whose raison d’être is developing capability for the primary sector, I was super keen to move into this area.

What’s the best thing about your role?

People – I love the horticulture industry, and I love seeing people develop and succeed in it. Working for a not-for-profit means that everyone is driven by similar ideals, which is to grow great people for our industry. Working in the marketing team means I get to work closely with our field team, as well as with employers, learners, and industry, while exercising my creative side, so I get the best of both worlds!

Do you travel much for the role ?

I travel a little bit, for industry events or to catch up with my colleagues around the country, although not so much this year!

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 do not have children, but that’s not to say that balancing work and home is any less important. I am a huge proponent for everyone having mental wellness as a wellbeing priority and recognizing that just because I do not have children doesn’t mean I don’t have a responsibility to look after my own wellbeing. I think a big thing is keeping communication lines open – to quote John Donne, No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. I have recently moved back to Wairarapa to live my quarter acre dream, and I love being able to switch off from the pace of the inner city, and spend time looking at the sheep in the paddock next door.

Was being a woman a hindrance or a help in getting this role? Tell us about that.

I started in this industry pretty young, and have benefited from having a lot of leaders who have backed me. If anything it’s the three degrees in English Literature with a minor in French literature that has given people the greatest cause for consternation!

Do you have any qualifications? (if so, what are they?)

I have a Masters Degree in English Literature

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

As my old boss once told me, when I confided that I felt hideously under qualified, ‘Eve, you know how to get people’s attention and that’s the important thing.’

If you had your time again would you do anything different?

I regret wearing stripy knee high socks with roman sandals when I was 10, but other than that I don’t regret anything.

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

People see, recognise and appreciate authenticity. We’re all just trying our best. Also our careers are more a jungle gym than a ladder.

As a women involved in horticulture is there anything that you would like to see change that would make your life/role better?

I’m really pleased to see this Women in Horticulture enterprise, and I’m really looking forward to watching its advancement. I think the more representative that the leadership and influencers of the industry is of the industry as a whole, the better we will be able to represent the people that make up the industry and ensure that the decisions made for the industry reflect all facets of it.

Are you on any Boards? If so which ones

I am involved with NZ Young Farmers at a number of levels – I’m Chair of the Wellington Young Farmers Club, vice Chair of the Manawatu District of Young Farmers, and vice Chair of the Taranaki/Manawatu Region of Young Farmers, which is the largest of NZYF’s seven regions.