Sarah Tait

People Capability Specialist / Developer

Sarah didn’t take the usual route to a career in agriculture, instead her overseas experiences and love of Spanish shaped her future.

SCHOOL: Ashburton College, 2003-2008; El Chapatal, Spain, 2008-2009
TRAINING INSTITUTE: Lincoln University, Bachelor of Agriculture; Massey University, Master of Arts (Spanish)
CURRENT EMPLOYMENT: People Capability Specialist / Developer, DairyNZ

“There is nothing like going against the grain a little and stumbling on something that really lights that fire in your stomach”

After Sarah’s final year of high school on exchange in Spain, she had a few different career pathways in mind but wasn’t ready to go to university and didn’t know which way to turn; she was ready to work and travel.

“When you are overseas, you learn a lot about yourself. I learnt that living in the city for a year in Spain made me miss rural communities so much.”

Sarah grew up on a farm in Mayfield, Mid Canterbury.

While travelling she had some amazing experiences working in New Zealand, Australia and England on arable farms.

“I then decided to go to university and study agriculture.”

It was after her studies she had the chance to work in Chile in an exciting setting.

“Chile is a very different physical, economic, political and cultural environment. During this time all of my interests finally aligned.”

Sarah’s passions are people, culture and agriculture.

She was awarded a Prime Minister’s Scholarship for Latin America (PMSLA) in 2017 which saw her go to Colombia for five weeks to study the Colombian agricultural, trade and political environment.

“My biggest piece of advice is there is no ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ decision. Every decision you make leads to learning opportunities, and my experience tells me that going out on a limb and going against what other people said would’ve been the “better” decision sometimes really pays off; you don’t know what opportunities will crop up.”

Sarah works as a People Capability Specialist / Developer at DairyNZ and sees many opportunities for young people in the dairy sector.

“No other primary industry has such an impact on the New Zealand economy, and arguably no other primary industry is faced with so many head-scratching challenges right now. We are entering a new age and need new innovations to overcome new challenges – we need social scientists as much as plant scientists; start-up experts as much as traditional farm advisors; and consumer-focused marketers as much as people on farm to make our dairy businesses tick. Take your pick!”

And she challenges those who say dairy farming is boring.

“I challenge anyone who undermines or believes that work on a dairy farm is boring. Every New Zealand dairy farm is a complex engine, and every day there are opportunities for all team members to learn, challenge themselves practically, and contribute to business performance. In how many other industries is that true?”

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