Variety of roles an attraction

Kate Macgregor now combines farming with her work at Ravensdown. PHOTO:  PENNY CLARK-HALL
Kate Macgregor now combines farming with her work at Ravensdown. PHOTO: PENNY CLARK-HALL
Kate Macgregor loves promoting the rural sector.

There was a wide range of roles available and it was not all about just being a farmer or directly involved in farming. The jobs available were "phenomenal'', she said.

North Otago-based Ms Macgregor, who works for Ravensdown, was brought up on a sheep and beef farm.

While she might have taken it for granted at the time, looking back, she felt very fortunate to have had that rural upbringing and its associated lifestyle, she said.

She initially headed to the University of Otago to study health sciences but found it was not her thing, and "fell into'' a science degree.

That led to a job with Ravensdown and she was now in her 14th year with the company.

Her first job was in the King Country and she shifted to Taumarunui, which was a great opportunity to see another part of New Zealand.

She spent seven years in that Taumarunui-Central Plateau area, working in the field, followed by a role in Dunedin, managing the Otago-Southland team.

That office role meant she learned a lot and she enjoyed it but it was not really her thing, she said.

Her father Grant was looking to slow down and she returned to North Otago three years ago, to get back in the field with Ravensdown.

As senior agri-manager, she had a client base of about 70 and her work was varied. She had gone part-time in the last year.

"It's not an office job; I think that's the appeal. You're out and about doing stuff and working with farmers. Farmers are pretty awesome,'' she said.

Her area was mostly North Otago, but also included Waikouaiti and the Hakataramea Valley, and it included a good mix of sheep and beef, dairy and cropping farmers.

Two years ago, she started leasing her father's 123ha farm, which was "almost urban farming'' on the northern outskirts of Oamaru.

From the top, there were views of the Kakanui Mountains and along the coastline.

"It's amazing. I'm pretty lucky,'' she said.

She was fortunate to work with "awesome'' farmers.

While her job was to go to their properties with a job to do, in the process she probably learned more, she said.

"You're learning from people that area really good at what they do.''.

And even while dairy farming was totally different from her sheep and beef operation, she could still learn from her dairy farmer clients.

The farm included 54ha of K-line irrigation which provided some drought-proofing which, on a small farm, was important, she said.

Her father still helped out on the farm, as did her partner Paul.

The couple live on a farm at Kauru Hill, near Maheno.

In 2013, Ravensdown launched an environmental analysis and planning service, in the wake of increasing demands on farmers to meet environmental standards and regional regulatory requirements.

That had been "booming'', while the company's agronomy side had also been growing, she said.

Farms were businesses and it was sometimes scary as to what those environmental standards and requirements meant for their businesses, how it was going to impact them and what they had to do.

So it was farmers getting their heads around the rules and what it meant for them. Ravensdown staff were getting a lot more active in that space.

There was great variety at Ravensdown. If the environmental work appealed, then you could go that way or, alternatively, follow the production side, she said.

Outside work, Ms Macgregor was a sports lover, particularly netball.

"I'm relatively competitive with most things, not that I have to win everything - I enjoy the challenge,'' she said.

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