Lizzy Wicken

Heinz Wattie’s
Tell us about your background.

I am 24 years old. I grew up in Hawkes Bay on an 17ha apple orchard. Growing up I had to regularly thin, pick and roll out irrigation during my summer holidays and never wanted anything to do with horticulture until I finished high school!

I went to Massey University in Palmerston North and studied a Bachelor of AgriScience. After graduating I got my first job as an auditor at SGS. I worked for 18 months before being made redundant. After that I spent 12 months at Fruition Horticulture as a technician before I landed the role of Agronomist at Wattie’s.

This role has allowed me lots of opportunities to further my career and personal development.

What do you do now?

I am an Agronomist for Wattie’s looking after our supply fruit growers – peaches, pears, boysenberries and plums.

I also tutor for EIT and work closely with the marketing side to organize industry events and sponsorships.

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

I was an auditor for 18 months where I did GlobalGAP, NZGap and other horticulture compliance which was a great start for me. After that my time at Fruition involved research, trap and irrigation monitoring which gave me insight into the technical side of the industry. I was looking for a job that would allow me to progress further, I applied for the Agronomist role which aligned where I wanted to be in my career – back into the field on the orchards and being around our growers.

What’s the best thing about your role?

The best thing about my role is being to be outside on the orchards with the people I work with.

Having a great network of supply growers which have welcomed me makes my job a joy to be in.

The flexibility of being able to manage my own time and tasks allows me the opportunity to develop personal growth. Wattie’s have been very supportive and encouraging of my ideas and initiative.

Do you travel much for the role ?

I travel a small amount for my role as I have one grower in Whakatane.

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 I am planning to sometime in the future. I am career driven but also value immensely time with family.

I am lucky that my partner and I have flexibility in our jobs and our families live near-by. My partner has said he wouldn’t mind being a stay at home dad at first!

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

It made no difference. My skillset, drive and experience helped me to get where I am today.

Do you have any qualifications?

Bachelor of AgriScience (Agriculture)

Certificate in Sustainable Nutrient Management (SNM)

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

I did study which helped to kick start my career and provided me knowledge of the more scientific aspects of horticulture. I have a certificate in SNM which allows me to aid growers with nutrient management plans which are being required for growers.

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

No, I think everything has worked out for me and the timing has been right. I am glad for my previous roles and skills they have provided me.

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

Don’t be afraid to take the opportunities that come your way.

Accepting my role at Wattie’s meant I was taking on more responsibility which was a scary thought but I like a challenge and it worked out perfectly!