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International Women's Day: Keri Johnston

International Women's Day:  Keri Johnston

Keri Johnston

Irrigation NZ chairperson

  1. Why is so important for women to hold leadership positions in the primary industry?

The primary sector is facing a changing future.  Our markets are changing, the environment is changing, geopolitics is changing.  It has been shown that when women are empowered to lead, everyone benefits. Decades of studies show women leaders help increase productivity, enhance collaboration, inspire organisational dedication, and improve fairness.  Our primary sector needs new thinking and strategies.  Status quo attitudes and resources are holding us back from what could be an amazing future for our sector. Women get that and create and promote a whole different mindset and have an appetite and readiness that undoubtedly has a positive impact on our sector.

2. What obstacles are there for women in agricultural roles, and how can we remove those obstacles?

In my experience, women are more likely to have “imposter syndrome” than male counterparts who are more assertive (generally).  We like to be ready and this means having the confidence in our knowledge and skills to do a job. We need to continue to build confidence in women and encourage them to look at the opportunities that are out there.  Sometimes, it is just about taking that first step – action over perfection.    Women in leadership positions can also provide support and mentoring for other women – inspiring them and showing them what is possible.

3. What advice would have for women who are wanting to rise through the ranks, and advance their career in agriculture?

Network, network, network – create a support network around you and make genuine connections with industry colleagues and leaders.  These relationships are invaluable.    And find a mentor – and this doesn’t necessarily have to be another woman, but someone whose expertise and qualities you respect and can help you advance your career.