Mel Auld

BerryCo NZ
Tell us about your background.

I grew up near Rotorua climbing trees and swimming in the lake and formed then a life-long love of adventure, travel and respect for people and place. This passion took me on a whirlwind global ride through roles in hospitality, recruitment, wood products, financial services and entertainment to land me in the fresh produce sector in the late 2000’s. I then spent 12 years with Zespri in senior communications and marketing roles, where I was part of the executive team, led the communications response to the 2010 outbreak of Psa in the NZ kiwifruit industry, managed marketing innovation, kicked off a project to revitalize the Zespri brand and had two children.

What do you do now?

I’m now a transformational coach and business consultant based in Mount Maunganui. My primary consulting role is currently Global Marketing Manager for BerryCo NZ where I’m helping build a premium blueberry brand.

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

I took the step of leaving a valuable role in a respected company to start my own business. Over the preceding years I had invested in my own personal growth which built my determination and courage to move in a direction that inspired me more. That, plus a career of soaking up and applying learnings about leadership, operations, communications, marketing, culture and more.

What’s the best thing about your role?

The flexibility to decide how to spend my time in a way that enables fulfillment of all my personal wellbeing needs.
In respect to my role with BerryCo, it’s the ability to have a direct impact on creating value and connections for cool people.

Do you travel much for the role ?

A few times a year which is a pleasant change from some pretty full-on travel commitments while with Zespri.

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 a beautiful balance now with quality time with my family during the week as well as weekends. In the past, my husband did the heavy lifting in terms of school drop-offs and pick-ups, plus most things household-wise and often weeks without me about. Now it’s much more balanced between us (although he still reminds me of this heavy lifting when he wants to go on a fishing or some other mancation/”work trip”!).
How did we make this happen? We discussed what an ideal week looked like for both of us then created our work commitments around that, vs the other way. It takes a constant discussion to keep ourselves in check – it’s easy to slip into old habits – but prioritizing it and checking in on this regularly keeps us more strongly aligned with how we want to be as a family.

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 – formally trained in PR and Communications at AUT University and in marketing at INSEAD Fontainebleau.

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

Attitude and experience counts for more in my view.

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

No, I’ve had a remarkable life

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

• Work for a business or cause you care deeply about
• Work hard at getting good at marketing and communications
• Be a constant learner and positive colleague
• Put yourself forward for opportunities that excite you
• Reach out to mentors that inspire you
• Be clear on your personal boundaries – what needs to be in place for you to be strong and well physically, mentally and spiritually
• Carry a pair of gumboots and a sun hat in the back of your car – always!

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

I’m a passionate environmentalist so looking forward to a greater focus on human practices (including farming) that are regeneratively aligned with the ecological systems they’re a part of.

A desire to see improved representation of women, youth and different ethnicities on leadership and governance teams that will bring fresh and different perspectives to enliven discussions and outcomes.

Are you on any Boards? If so which ones

Not yet.

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

Winner of the Public Relations Institute of NZ National Supreme Award in 2011 for the crisis communications response to Psa (a bacterial vine disease that threatened the kiwifruit industry in 2010)