Marketer finds her silver lining

Silver Fern Farms marketing general manager Sharon Angus says she has never come across a 'glass...
Silver Fern Farms marketing general manager Sharon Angus says she has never come across a 'glass ceiling' in business. Photo supplied.
For Sharon Angus, there is nothing quite like a challenge.

Ms Angus, the general manager of marketing at Silver Fern Farms, is driven by a passion for marketing.

Dunedin-born and raised, she worked in banking for seven years before heading overseas.

On her return, she got a job with Mainland Products in Dunedin and the company put her through a marketing degree.

At Mainland for 15 years, she described it as the ''most wonderful place to work'' and an exciting place to do marketing.

''We took a brand that was nowhere near the top of the market and made it number one,'' she said.

It had a very different culture and was entrepreneurial and forward-thinking, she said.

Following the company's sale, she did some consulting work, mainly for Fonterra, which she enjoyed. It involved travelling every week while still based in Dunedin.

Ms Angus had been doing some consulting work for Silver Fern Farms and was later approached to join the company full-time and build a marketing department.

At that stage, the meat industry did not really have marketers as such, it had sales, she said.

The question was whether she wanted to go into the meat industry and she acknowledged it was a big decision to make.

But there was nothing like a challenge and one thing a marketer did not get often was a new brand that you could ''make it what you want it'', coupled with an opportunity to make a big difference.

''I'd worked with brands that were 25 to 50 years old, but you don't build them from the beginning,'' she said.

It was also an opportunity to build a marketing department of ''the right sort of people''.

One of her key passions was mentoring marketers and building a team at Silver Fern Farms gave her an opportunity to do that, which she also enjoyed.

Although Ms Angus would not deny it had been the hardest job she had ever had, she believed strongly in what chief executive Keith Cooper was trying to do.

''I wouldn't say it's been easy but it's really exciting, too. You've got to believe in it to be doing it.

''I love marketing and I love a challenge. I don't want to give up until we've made a difference,'' she said.

It took a long time to build or invest in what you wanted the future to be. In the next few years, hopefully, it would start to come to fruition, she said.

It was a hugely challenging industry and, until she became involved in it, she was ''really quite naive'' about its complexities.

Then she questioned why no-one had previously marketed, into supermarkets and food service, a story, brand and position, which was something that the consumer wanted ''hugely''.

Four years into her role, Ms Angus said the company had changed a lot in that time.

There were so many opportunities for New Zealand's grass-fed red meat, with its ''fantastic story''.

She was excited about the company's recent launch of its Eating Quality (EQ) System for beef, the first such system for New Zealand red meat.

While it was early days, there had already been good feedback for a product that was offering a point of difference, she said.

When it came to being a woman in a senior management position, Ms Angus said she had never come across a ''glass ceiling'' - in fact it was the opposite.

''I believe you make your own opportunities as a female,'' she said.

What women did not do well was having confidence when it came to how good their skills were.

''They probably don't take opportunities. I've had to be talked into opportunities rather than seeking them, but I love it when I'm doing it,'' she said.

Most of her team were female but she also enjoyed working in the company's mostly male leadership team.

Alongside a lot of camaraderie, there was a common goal and they were working together to make it happen.

''It's about the right person for the right job, not about [being] male or female,'' she said.

When her now 16-year-old son was growing up, she had a full-time nanny.

''You do make choices of what you do. I'm very career-oriented and I love my job.''

Ms Angus loved all elements of her lifestyle - from the buzz of Auckland and working with agencies up there to living in Dunedin, so it was ''like having the best of both worlds''.

Outside work, she enjoyed spending time with her family, going to the movies and she loved food. She loved the St Clair community, and she and her husband, a geologist, also have a home in Central Otago.

Although she acknowledged she could have shifted to Melbourne, or Singapore, or even Mexico at one stage, she had never got bored in Dunedin.

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