Heather Feetham

T&G Fresh
Tell us about your background.

I am from Adelaide, South Australia. I studied Agricultural Science at The University of Adelaide, and also completed my Honours degree there where I focused on International Food Security research. In 2017, after my studies, my partner and I decided to travel, and we came to New Zealand. We lived in Queenstown for the first 9 months, then came up to Auckland and got involved in our industries. My first role was as a lab technician in the Kiwifruit industry at age 22, and my career developed from there.

What do you do now?

I am a Production Manager at T&G Fresh in their Covered Crops Division.

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

I started my horticultural career in New Zealand as part of an orchard team in the Kiwifruit industry, and spent most of my time there as Assistant Orchard Manager. I then transferred to T&G Fresh to try something new and started as a Team Leader with them. The opportunity then arose to become a Production Manager, and I was fortunate enough to be given that opportunity to step-up into this more challenging role.

What’s the best thing about your role?

I love the variety my day brings. I work with people and plants, and love the hands on nature of my job. You learn something new every day!

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

I don’t believe my gender has impacted my career because no matter if you’re female or male, hard work is what shines through! However, in my experience, the industry certainly values females in leadership roles, and it is an exciting time to be involved in the industry alongside some outstanding women.

Do you have any qualifications?

A Bachelor of Agricultural Science, and a Bachelor of Science (Honours)

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

I didn’t formally require qualifications for this role, but they certainly come in handy when it comes to understanding how the plants grow and how to manage them.

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

There are so many other pathways I could have taken in my career, but I’m very happy with where I’m at, so I’m pleased with the decisions I’ve made. I grew up in the city, but always loved nature, the environment and science, so the industry was certainly a natural choice for me. I’m also pleased I decided to travel. It’s enabled me to experience places and jobs and cultures I never could have back in Adelaide.

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

Go for it! There’s absolutely nothing gender related holding you back. Women are just as valuable in the industry as men.

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

More of us 🙂

Have you received any awards? Can you tell us a little about them

I was very proud to have won the 2021 Pukekohe Young Grower of the Year earlier this month. Competing in that was an amazing opportunity that pushed me outside of my comfort zone and I learnt so much! It was also an incredible way to get to know more people in the industry in New Zealand. I’m now representing Pukekohe in the Young Grower of the Year competition in Wellington in September. I’ll do my best to do Pukekohe proud!