Leander Archer

AGFirst
Tell us about your background.

I’m from Wellington with no horticultural background growing up. My family was really outdoorsy, going tramping, rafting and camping so I gained a real appreciation for the natural environment. I loved food especially eating fruit, and at school, I liked science, geography, drama, P.E. and was pretty good at math.

What do you do now?

I work at AgFirst as a horticulture and environment consultant.

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

A Bachelor of AgriScience in Horticulture and involvement in clubs and societies to show people skills. My passions and interests matched a gap Agfirst had identified at the time which they wanted to fill. I began in the technician side of the business for 5 months then when both the company and I were still keen, transitioned into a consultant role.

Do you travel much for the role ?

This is up to the individual. Consultants are encouraged to travel to global conferences and events and see horticulture around the world. This is because we learn perspective and bring a lot of new ideas and possible solutions back to NZ for our main clients in Aotearoa. Travel within NZ is also up to the consultant, on which clients they take up and which events they want to attend. Personally for the role itself I have not done much travel, which I regret. I just have not been sure which events to go to and haven’t put a focus on it. And now COVID! I plan to change this and go to 1 overseas event per year in future. Through the industry, I did get to go on the Horticulture Immersion Program as a mentor to the Netherlands, Belgium and South Korea which stoked my travel fire.

What’s the best thing about your role?

Variety and choice of work type, and flexible working arrangements in a small company. Consultants can be mostly out on farm, or they can be mostly in the office.  As long as the work fits within the AgFirst values and strategic direction, and you can achieve the sustainable level of fees doing it, you are able to carve your own work areas and niches.

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 plan on having children at some point. I do worry about this because I want to keep both my career and a family life, but there is only so much time to split between them. AgFirst have been great, telling me if I ever decide to become a mum there are plenty of flexi arrangements we can make. My partner also thinks being a stay at home dad would be fun- as women step up in careers, men will need to step up in the family space. It’s up to individual couples to decide how to divide the workload between them.