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The newly-appointed New Zealand Groundspread Fertilisers Association executive officer said landing the job ‘‘all stems back to Nana’’, Joyce Johnston.
‘‘She was a real community-minded person, and a really smart lady ... She was just always busy, always giving her time ... she always taught us just to keep going.’’
It was almost by accident she landed her new role, after helping husband Nick, who owns Hyslop Groundspread, plan the Canterbury branch conference for 240 people at Mt Cook’s The Hermitage Hotel.
‘‘Nick was the branch chair at the time ... They were planning the conference last year, which got cancelled due to Covid, and then this year, because I wasn’t working and had more time, I helped them ... and just absolutely loved it. Loved the people, loved the organising, and so, sort of got a really good feel for the association and the members.’’
At the conference it was announced that the executive officer at the time was stepping down.
‘‘They had sort of encouraged me to apply, but at the time I thought that I didn’t really have the skills to offer them, I mean, I was just a stay-home mum.’’
But after some strong encouragement from then association president John Schultz, of Mainland Spreading, she eventually applied.
‘‘It went from being sort of an off-hand comment at a conference, to ‘shivers, they actually want me to apply for this job’.’’
As a mother of two, Mrs Hyslop had always been involved with her children’s education, particularly early on. She was a driving force behind the creation of Weston Playcentre’s now annual Big Wheels fundraiser, and had volunteered on the New Zealand Kindergarten Association since 2014.
Her nana had also volunteered her as a reader/writer at Waitaki Girls’ High School, which led to a four-year teacher aide job, and that in turn fostered a love for education and a desire to teach.
She was amazed the skills she had gleaned from being a mum and volunteering could set her up for a job like this.
‘‘It just feels, like, kind of incredible, that I can have an incredible job like this in Oamaru. Working from home, working around my life. But still getting to do something I really love.
‘‘Those volunteer roles really paid off. Even going back to organising something like Big Wheels — then when it came to organising the conference, I was like ‘OK — I’ve done this before, it’s fine’.
‘‘So I figured it’s all those wee skills you gather along the way as a mum, that can add value to other people’s businesses, not just your own life.’’
Mrs Hyslop had been studying a bachelor of arts, majoring in English, by correspondence from Massey University, and graduated in April. She had been planning on gaining her teaching qualification next year, once her daughter Erin started high school.
When she found out she had the job, ahead of 17 other applicants, she said it was ‘‘equally terrifying and exciting’’.
The job description was a varied one, but included facilitating council meetings, managing finances, membership support, and helping to implement the strategic plan. It had also absorbed a previously separate marketing and communications role.
Her first meeting was at the end of last month in Wellington, and was also her husband’s first meeting on the council.
One councillor from each of the seven regions attended the national meetings.
‘‘I was really nervous, I didn’t know if I had enough to offer them at a national level and it became apparent pretty quickly, actually, that my governance experience was just what they needed, I think.’’
Being on the council was something her husband had worked hard for, for a long time, and Mrs Hyslop was conscious of not wanting to take that recognition away from him.
‘‘That was probably my only reservation about taking the job, but he was really encouraging,’’ she said.
Groundspreading ran in his family. Mr Hyslop’s grandfather had been president of the association, and his father, Ray, had set up North Otago Groundspreading, which he eventually sold, Mrs Hyslop said.
Both men were life members of the association.
‘‘Then Nick started up [Hyslop Groundspread]. It’s definitely in the blood.’’
Although Mrs Hyslop had not taken an active part in Mr Hyslop’s business, aside from the invoicing and monthly accounts, she surprised herself with the knowledge she had absorbed about the industry.
‘‘I said to Nick, ‘there’s so many things that I don’t know’, but apparently there’s quite a bit of stuff has been sort of brought to the dinner table, that maybe I do know.’’
She described it as an exciting time for the industry.
‘‘These guys are so environmentally and technologically savvy. At a time when the environment is such a key topic, in all levels of society, these guys are doing it right.’’
- By Ashley Smyth