Christina Finlayson | Growing her career in Tauranga
Christina and her husband Royce have recently returned to Tauranga after living in London. We caught up with Christina to find out more about how she is continuing to grow her career and passion for environmental science in Tauranga.
Christina, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your journey so far?
I grew up on a dairy farm in Matamata, just over the Kaimai Ranges to Tauranga. I wasn’t a typical farm girl, but growing up on a farm was such a special experience and sparked my passion for my career today. For my schooling years, I attended Bethlehem College, in Tauranga, and then completed a Bachelor of Science at the University of Auckland, with a double major in Environmental and Biological Sciences. Straight after Uni, I worked in Hawke’s Bay for a few years. My husband Royce and I returned to Tauranga in 2015, just after we got married. We loved Tauranga, however, London was calling, and we left for our OE in early 2019.
“When Covid hit, my local community in London really blossomed it was wonderful to see the care, resilience, and selflessness of so many”.
Can you share with us your brief career story?
While I was studying at University, I was fortunate to be given an opportunity over the summer break to work at Plant and Food Research in Te Puke. PSA had just hit the kiwifruit industry, and our team worked to assess the susceptibility of new kiwifruit varieties to PSA. This led to a summer studentship in Havelock North within the sustainable nutrients and cropping team where I worked as a Research Associate.
After moving back to Tauranga, I joined the Ballance Agri- Nutrients team, and Royce joined Beca. I started within the Farm Sustainability team and moved into leadership and digital tools within the environmental sustainability space. I was fortunate to be involved in the talent programme, and really valued the mentoring this afforded. In late 2018 we packed our lives into a Ute with a roof-top tent and boat in tow and traveled our beautiful country for the summer. We moved to London in 2019 and I joined a small digital sustainability start-up as Head of Operations. We were focused on removing the barriers to the increased energy efficiency of homes in the UK, which is a huge contributor to the UK’s carbon footprint. The team was so diverse – from Russia to Israel, to Chile and central London, I really grew an appreciation for the benefits of diverse thinking and experiences.
“In 2020 I was about to start working remotely from London to New Zealand and then covid hit while we were skiing in France”.
How did you manage to work in New Zealand from London through the pandemic?
I had recently finished up my role in London and had just re-joined the Ballance family, with an agreement to work remotely until we returned after the UK summer, this was right before Covid hit. It was pretty amazing being locked down for months in London, one of the global Covid hot spots, while working full-time for an agriculture company in New Zealand, in an opposite time zone!
“Working remotely to New Zealand from Sicily and the Greek Islands during a global pandemic and watching the sunrise as I dialed into the New Zealand early morning calls was pretty spectacular!”
It was, however, great to get back into the office after returning to New Zealand, my role requires heaps of collaboration with different stakeholders which is all much easier to do in person, or at least in the same time zone! I had really missed working in the primary industries, helping provide innovative solutions to big problems that intersect two things I care about deeply, our people and the beautiful natural resources of Aotearoa.
“My husband Royce has also returned back to his pre-London workplace. It’s definitely important to keep connected to your professional relationships back in New Zealand while you’re overseas, New Zealand is such a relationships place”.