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People of Lincoln Agritech

Olivia Thompson

Olivia Thompson

Market Research Analyst Olivia Thompson’s role combines her love of science and her interest in finance and economics.

As a child I often changed my mind about what I wanted to be when I grew up. The first thing I wanted to be was a teacher so I could be the one giving out the homework! I then remember a phase in late primary school when I wanted to live on a farm and be a vet – I used to love trips to a family friend’s farm and being with all the baby animals.

When I was in high school I thought about being a scientist as I loved chemistry and all of the experiments we got to do. However, as a high school student I wasn’t aware of all of the possibilities in the science sector and only really considered being a doctor. At the same time I was also really enjoying accounting and economics and had a dream of being the first female Governor of the Reserve Bank, because why can’t a female succeed in a very male-dominated space?

The finance career path was the one that won out at university. After I graduated I moved to Auckland to start my career as an accountant, in one of the Big Four accounting firms. After a few years I headed off to London for a typical kiwi OE.

When I arrived back in Auckland after my OE I felt like a change from accounting and moved into product management, managing a KiwiSaver scheme. I really enjoyed the customer lens and innovation this role required.

After moving back home to Christchurch I was looking for a new role that was a bit different to what I’d been doing so it would provide some new challenges. I was lucky, and got this one. While this is completely different to what I thought I’d be doing when I was a child, it combines my business skills, developed over the start of my career, with the science sector, which was always an interest for me at school.

What does your job involve?

My role involves working with the researchers to determine what the end market for their research looks like, so who the end users would be, what the operating environment’s like. I also work with the commercialisation team, finding pathways to market for the innovative technology that’s been developed.

Basically, I help to work out if there’s a market for the bright ideas our researchers have and the technology they develop, what size that market is and how we could get the technology into that market.

I enjoy hearing about all of the cool, innovative research that’s happening and then helping to provide direction for that research so it can get out to the users.

I love a bit of a challenge and also doing things that are meaningful and will impact others in a positive way. I think this role encompasses that.

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

Having my two kids is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. It’s amazing how children open your eyes to a whole different way of seeing the world.

In saying that, the environment is changing so much from when I was a child – if I could change one thing about the world, it’s the protection of our natural environment so my children and potential grandchildren can enjoy the things that I did. As a society we have to change our consumption behaviours to protect what we have, otherwise we’re going to lose it.