Emma Lees

International Women’s Day – Emma Lees

posted in: Articles, Uncategorized

Potatoes New Zealand connects with various women in the industry as part of International Women’s Day to discover the amazing work they do in the sector.

Name: Emma Lees
Company: AS Wilcox & Sons

What do you do in your current role?

My role is focussed on everything people related – Human Resources, Health and Safety, Communications and Sustainability.

What do you particularly enjoy about it? 

There is never a dull day, no two days are the same.  There are always new opportunities to make a difference for people and the business, new perspectives to understand and I am always learning something new about our people.

How long have you been with your organisation?

I have only been in my current role since September 2023, however I have been with the business for around 3 years. 

How do you find working in the potato industry/primary industries? 

I really love working in primary industry, I particularly enjoy being part of a business that is providing our communities with good wholesome food.  When I first started working at Wilcox, the huge passion that the team has for what they do every day really stood out.  Being fortunate enough tot g o into work every day and be surrounded by people who absolutely love what they do is a real privilege.

Have you encountered any specific challenges? 

Over the past few years, the impacts of COVID on the available labour market has been a huge challenge for us (and for most New Zealand businesses), this has only really started to ease. This year we had significantly less struggle getting our seasonal teams in place. 

Please share any standout moments in your life? 

Having my two wonderful children is pretty much impossible to top.  Seeing them growing up as healthy, happy and kind people makes me proud every day.

What do you wish you had known before you started in your profession?

I started out as a Research Scientist before moving professions and retraining in human resources.  When I started out in human resources I wish I had known the importance of not making assumptions – not making assumptions about people’s motivations, personalities, role, decisions, etc.  I learned through experience the importance of keeping a very open mind and being willing to learn and consider multiple perspectives. 

What would you tell another woman interested in working in the potato industry/primary industries?

Don’t be afraid to move into the vegetable industry, there will be lots of opportunities for you to grow and develop.  In terms of job satisfaction, knowing that you are part of an industry that feeds our communities high quality and healthy food is incredibly fulfilling. 

International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Significant activity is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women’s achievements or rally for women’s equality. Find out more at www.internationalwomensday.com