Providing people power pivotal role

Andy Somerville.
Andy Somerville.
The Primary Industry Capability Alliance's (PICA) new chief executive Andy Somerville sees huge potential for New Zealand's primary sector.

The former Otago man, who starts work in the Wellington-based position on August 18, is also excited about his new role.

Established in 2012 to develop a capability strategy for the wider agricultural industry, PICA is a collaboration between New Zealand Young Farmers, DairyNZ, Beef and Lamb New Zealand, PrimaryITO, Taratahi, Lincoln University and the Ministry for Primary Industries It aimed to provide clarity and guidance for those interested in pursuing a career in the agricultural industry.

When looking at things that were critical in the overall strength of New Zealand's economy, primary industries were always ''at the top end of the discussions'', Mr Somerville (56) said.

It was not just the dairy industry but a combination of all involved, including the likes of fishing, forestry and horticulture, which had a massive impact on the economy, he said.

Being able to play ''some little part'' in how capability in the sector was managed and improved was an exciting opportunity.

Mr Somerville's interest in the rural sector dated back to school holidays spent working on a high country station in the Cardrona Valley.

Brought up in Dunedin, he completed his secondary education at Otago Boys' High School.

Those holiday experiences saw him head to Lincoln to complete a degree in agricultural commerce.

A career in firstly rural and then commercial banking followed.

He set up the National Bank's rural finance team before the purchase of the Rural Bank, then worked in various areas within The National Bank, including representing it in London.

He was general manager for business banking at The National Bank and, most latterly, he has been doing some specialist work for Kiwibank on a contract basis.

Given his original interest in farming, Mr Somerville said the PICA role was something that really interested him.

''For me, it's a perfect opportunity to get into something new and challenging and something that goes back to where I started with my studies,'' he said.

PICA's transition board chairman Mark Paine said Mr Somerville brought extensive experience in business development and relationship management to the role.

The organisation had come a long way since it was set up two years ago and he brought the right combination of skills in strategy, leadership and collaboration needed to lead the next phase of development.

The People Powered report, released last month by the Ministry for Primary Industries, highlighted the changing skills necessary so the sector could adapt and respond to novel opportunities and technologies.

In the future, it was hoped to extend the alliance to include the wider primary industries such as horticulture, seafood, forestry and arable, Mr Paine said.

PICA, under Mr Somerville's leadership, would play a critical role in linking organisations and ensuring their strategies, resources and activities were aligned to achieve the outcomes the primary industries needed.

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