Pioneer students of Agribusiness enter the workforce

Pioneer students of Agribusiness enter the workforce Maggie Powell

4 November 2021

Maggie Powell (Harington 2015-2017) came from the high rises of Hong Kong to Auckland as a four year old when her parents moved to New Zealand’s largest city. Now the Agribusiness graduate works for an industry taking its products to the world including Hong Kong and China which are some of its biggest markets.

While she didn’t have a background in agriculture, Maggie says she was introduced to the industry after studying Agribusiness from Year 12 at St Paul’s. It was here she was also inspired to forge a career in New Zealand’s primary industries. She is now part of the Silver Fern Farms Graduate Career Programme.

“I was born in Hong Kong and my parents moved back to Auckland when I was four. I had always dreamed of being a doctor or a lawyer but then I discovered chemistry wasn’t my strong point.”

Maggie, who enjoyed business subjects at high school, encouraged to consider studying Agribusiness at St Paul’s and she says, “something clicked”.

“It wasn’t an obvious choice for me, but through the course I discovered the vast opportunities offered by the industry,” says Maggie.

After she graduated from high school, she went on to study at Massey University in Palmerston North, and did a Bachelor of Agri-commerce, majoring in International Business.

She started her role on the Graduate Career Programme at Silver Fern Farms in 2021. The company exports to 60 countries worldwide. It employs about 7,000 people at the peak of its season, across 14 processing sites and four office hubs throughout New Zealand.

Maggie is currently based in Dunedin in the marketing team with a focus on brand development for New Zealand and global markets, but her role in the Graduate Career Programme will see her gain experience in a variety of roles.

*“I think it will be a really interesting industry over the next few years. I’m already learning so much. My job involves looking at trends in the market and positioning products as red meat that’s good for you,” says Maggie.

She says the emergence of Covid-19 has meant people have really started to look at their diets.

“The red meat market has come under a lot of pressure as there is a real push towards plantbased eating but there is also a real opportunity to support local,” says Maggie.

Maggie had no idea where a career in agribusiness could take her before studying at St Paul’s.

“Being raised in the city I think you often learn all the negative things about the agriculture industry. I was totally oblivious to it, I don’t think I could have told you how milk was made,” Maggie laughs.

She believes people’s understanding is slowly changing however and now young people coming into the industry had real drive to make a difference.

Where once agriculture may have been considered a course with easy credits, Maggie says it is now attracting students that are top in class in business subjects and top in class in science.

"Studying at St Paul’s I saw the passion the teachers had, and many of them came from agriculture backgrounds. I realised this is so much greater than growing grass and grazing animals, this is actually someone’s livelihood, says Maggie.

(Source: Nicola Martin - HMC)