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People of Lincoln Agritech

Kirsty Macdonald

People & Safety Manager Kirsty Macdonald wanted to be a marine biologist as a child. But that changed, and she opted for a career in business.

As a child, my ideas about what I wanted to be when I grew up changed a lot. I went through a number of job options , including being a hairdresser, airline attendant, and marine biologist. Marine biology was a passion because I loved animals, especially ones that live in the ocean.

But when it came time to make a choice, I instead decided to pursue a career in business. I moved from Marlborough to Canterbury to complete a Diploma in Business Management at CPIT (now Ara). I then did a Bachelor in Business Management, majoring in marketing and employment relations. I selected my majors based on the subjects I particularly enjoyed studying.

I grew up in a family that’s very focused on service to the community, and always enjoyed being around people and helping them. Human resource management allowed me to link my passion in my work.

After I completed my studies, we moved to a small Canterbury town where HR opportunities for a new graduate were limited. So, for first full-time job, to get some formal workplace experience, I joined the banking industry. My first role in HR came 18 months later when we relocated to Auckland, and I joined Fonterra working as the HR Coordinator within the IT department. My role quickly evolved, giving me a great deal of exposure to all facets of HR.

We spent some time living overseas, then returned to Christchurch. Throughout my career I’ve always worked in generalist HR roles, which allows me to work across the full employee lifecycle. I’ve worked in numerous industries – fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), shipping, law, financial services, aviation and now research and development.

What does your job involve?

I support the company and staff with all things people related. Being in a generalist role where I touch on every aspect of HR and safety, every day is different. My tasks include interviewing candidates for a role, facilitating a workshop with staff on engagement or wellbeing, coordinating leadership and development opportunities for staff, updating staff on progress at a monthly staff meeting, and planning the people and safety strategy for the company.

I tell my young children that I help people in their jobs. When my wider family asks me what I do, I tell them that I support the company with all things people – recruiting, training, developing, engaging, wellbeing, and safety.

I enjoy working with my small team and all staff to make the company a great place to work. I love seeing the joy on people’s faces with the successes they have at work, whether it’s getting a job, presenting at a conference, attending an inspiring workshop, or engaging with colleagues at a morning tea celebration.

What is the best thing that’s ever happened to you?

The best thing that’s ever happened to me is to live and work overseas and travel extensively. A couple of highlights include spending 2½ months travelling Europe in a converted Toyota Hiace HiTop campervan called Paddy (an ex-police/paddy wagon) taking in numerous cultural and historic experiences and then spending a month touring southern Africa and seeing the Big Five (rhinos, elephants, buffalos, lions, and leopards).

If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?

I’d want those with significant money to share this with others to provide aid to nations, people and environments in need.