Sarah Sorensen

NZ Avocado
Tell us about your background.

I lived a slightly nomadic lifestyle as a child and experienced beach, rural and city life before my family finally settled down in Rotorua and Pukehina. I went to Massey University (Palmerston North) and Auckland University before roaming around the world on cruise ships. My background professionally has been as a Medical Laboratory Scientist and Forensic Scientist for 15 years before making the switch to horticulture

What do you do now?

I am a Project Manager for NZ Avocado. The role is exciting and primarily encompasses projects that involve improving fruit quality and telling the avocado industry’s sustainability story.

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

Initially the role was a six-month contract undertaking a literature review on fruit quality in the New Zealand avocado industry. I was looking for a role that would add to my skill set after maternity leave and did not involve heading back into a laboratory. My husband and I had recently purchased an avocado orchard so it was an opportunity to learn ‘on the job’.

What’s the best thing about your role?

The people – from passionate growers to the highly skilled and focused industry stakeholders. The avocado industry is full of amazing people who are willing to impart their knowledge for the betterment of the industry. The NZ Avocado team is also an amazing group of dedicated individuals who I love working with and bring out the best in each other.

Do you travel much for the role ?

My role takes me to our growing regions throughout New Zealand, mainly to Whangarei.

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 three boys aged 12, 9 & 6. My husband works shift work and we have a wonderful nanny. Balancing a job and family is never easy but being organized and planning does take the stress off. We also make sure the boys go on plenty of adventures so we can make the most time as a family. NZ Avocado is an incredibly supportive work environment for those of us with families making it much easier.

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

I don’t believe gender had a significance in getting this role.  

Do you have any qualifications?

I have a Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Science and a Master’s of Science in Forensic Science.

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

No, however there are qualifications and training in project management.

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

I am incredibly lucky working in a horticultural industry that has such a large female presence however there is still an element of not being taken seriously because you are female.

Are you on any Boards? If so which ones