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‘Trailblazers in the Field’: The female forces shaping New Zealand’s potato industry

In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8, Potatoes New Zealand showcased the remarkable contributions of women within the potato sector, highlighting their diverse roles and the impact they have on the industry. Among those featured were Paula Lleras, Emma Lees, and Kate Trufitt, each bringing unique skills and perspectives to their work.

Paula Lleras: A Pillar of Support and Innovation

Paula Lleras

Paula Lleras, who has been with Potatoes New Zealand since March 2019, plays a crucial role in administrating the seed potato certification database (BELIS), managing annual data entry, reports, newsletters, and meetings. As a seed inspector, she carries out field and tuber inspections of seed potatoes and assists with research and development projects.

Paula finds joy in working alongside growers, appreciating both the outdoor and indoor aspects of her job, and values the continuous learning opportunities the role provides.

Paula’s dedication to the industry is driven by a passion for contributing to food supply and spending time in the fields working directly with potato crops.

Emma Lees: Championing People and Sustainability

Emma Lees

Emma Lees, associated with AS Wilcox & Sons, focuses on human resources, health and safety, communications, and sustainability. Having been with the business for around three years, Emma enjoys the dynamic nature of her role, where no two days are the same.

She is motivated by the opportunities to make a difference for people and the business, constantly learning about her colleagues.

Emma values being part of an industry that delivers wholesome food to communities and is inspired by the passion her team has for their work. Despite challenges such as the impact of COVID-19 on the labor market, she finds joy in overcoming obstacles and contributing to the industry’s growth.

Kate Trufitt: Leading with Experience and Passion

Kate Trufitt (cover photo), the CEO of Potatoes New Zealand, brings a wealth of experience from various roles across the horticulture sector, including marketing, operational logistics, human resources, compliance, health & safety, and sustainability.

Kate’s broad experience across different crops and her involvement in senior management and governance roles equip her well to lead Potatoes New Zealand.

Kate enjoys the horticulture sector’s ever-changing landscape, filled with challenges and opportunities. She emphasizes the importance of mentors and support networks in overcoming professional challenges and is proud of her journey to becoming CEO, a role she has held for six months.

Vital roles of women in the potato industry

These women’s stories reflect the diverse and vital roles women play in the potato industry, from fieldwork and research to leadership and sustainability efforts. Their contributions not only enhance the sector’s productivity and innovation but also inspire future generations of women to pursue careers in agriculture and horticulture.

Potatoes New Zealand’s initiative to highlight these women on International Women’s Day underscores the organization’s commitment to celebrating and promoting diversity and inclusion within the industry.

Source: Potatoes New Zealand
Cover photo: Kate Trufitt, CEO of Potatoes New Zealand. Credit Potatoes New Zealand
Related: Celebrating women in the potato industry: The inspirational stories of New Zealand’s Michelle Pye and Tracey McKay

Editor & Publisher: Lukie Pieterse

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