April 13, 2021

Recruiting for change in the agricultural sector

As in many industries, agricultural methods are changing. Today’s farmer is younger and more tech savvy, ROI is looked at more aggressively, and farming equipment is becoming ever more complex and sophisticated.

Norwood – with a reputation as New Zealand’s leading on-farm technology and service provider – came to us in late 2019 to help them fulfil a vision to move further up the value chain with their service offering. A completely redesigned service and advice offer needed to be rolled out in under six weeks, with a largely new management team to lead it.


Business strategy guides recruitment approach

The new strategy meant Norwood needed to realign their management team to reflect the business’s revised direction. Their new focus was to build long-term industry leadership, deeper customer relationships supported by a value-added offering, and excellence in customer care and partnership.

A more timely and consultative service offering was essential to this. Sophisticated modern agricultural technology must be accurately specified and calibrated to perform, and optimising a customer’s mission-critical machinery provides ongoing improvement to the farmer’s operations and bottom line.

All in all, Norwood needed to fill eight new roles – including a largely new management team. To help meet the challenge Norwood approached JacksonStone & Partners.

In New Zealand, the agricultural sector is highly regarded, so we used this profile and benefit to attract a range of suitable candidates. Norwood asked us to look inside and outside the sector for people who could bring fresh insights and innovative practices to their new business model and operations. We included international search as part of our strategy, with an excellent candidate sourced from South Africa.

We also needed to do it quickly, in a period which coincided with the summer break.


Norwood Women

A depth of resources to find the right people in record time

Starting with a list of over 200 interested parties, from both search and advertising, we screened all appropriate candidates to create a shortlist for Norwood’s review. They chose two to three candidates to interview for each role, including internal appointments where appropriate.

Norwood was a new client, and they responded very well to our can-do attitude. They were looking for a recruitment company who understood their culture and strategy, had completed similar scale assignments, and had excellent industry contacts to be able to act quickly.

Despite the short timeframe, we activated our networks inside and outside JacksonStone & Partners to recruit five roles to a high calibre. With our guidance, Norwood was able to fill one role internally, and, as the process unfolded, they found two of the new roles were not yet required.

As part of the package, we offered project management expertise; discounts for bulk recruitment work; and expertise both inside and outside the agriculture sector. We also provided international recruitment capabilities and national coverage, as many roles were rural.

Most importantly, we had the depth of resources to be able to respond quickly – we set out a process the client bought into, all documented and with a pre-agreed fee.


Tim Myers, Chief Executive Officer, Norwood:

“The task we set JacksonStone was complex. We asked for help finding multiple newly created roles that were part of a comprehensive reorganisation of the Norwood company structure that was designed to reposition Norwood. As such there was little in the way of immediate reference examples of exactly what we wanted and furthermore the roles we needed to fill were either tier 2 or 3, so we needed to find people that were both experienced and passionate agribusiness executives. Following a series of discussions the JacksonStone team bought into our vision and they set about their work. They understood our direction and what we needed from the recruits and as such our short-listed candidates were all highly suited to what we want to deliver. We were impressed with JacksonStones ‘speed to the ball’, and their work ethic ensured a swift and relatively seamless process once interviewing commenced. Most importantly the outcomes were superb – great people that hit the ground running and who will lead our business into the future. In short, the JS team were excellent, and I couldn’t recommend them highly enough.”

Norwood Men

Written by Christian Howatson

Christian manages our Administration Team, in addition to our Marketing and IT functions.

Christian plays a key role at JacksonStone & Partners, often referred to as the go-to for everything operations.

Christian’s focus is on ensuring our consultants are highlighted as expert recruitment and search specialists. He does so by expertly completing client Request for Proposals (RFPs) and countless other corporate proposals. He is also responsible for all of our client advertising; print media and digital.

In addition to looking after our marketing supplier relationships, Christian also manages the bulk of our IT requirements. This includes implementing new software, updating and installing hardware, and managing jacksonstone.co.nz

Areas of specialisation: Management, Operations, Marketing, IT, Executive search

P: +64 4 550 8015

E: christian.howatson@jacksonstone.co.nz