From being suited and booted in the glamorous world of advertising to wearing red bands and overalls in cow sheds across the Waikato, Julia Baynes’ new role is the perfect meeting of two worlds.
Julia is CRV’s new National Sales Manager. A former advertising executive, she cut her teeth at global marketing agency Saatchi & Saatchi but just over a decade ago hung up her high heels to retrain as a large animal vet. For the past six years Julia has been working for Anexa Vets in Waikato.
Now she has the opportunity to combine her sales and marketing savvy, with her love of cows and the deep understanding of dairy farming she has gained as a vet.
While she counts Spark, Barclays Bank, British Telecom and Diageo Highland Whisky as former advertising clients, Julia says working in dairy genetics is one of the most exciting futures with so much of the industry’s success resting on herd improvement.
“I want to help breed better herds for all the reasons we hear about. The quality of our milk, the quality of our beef and the environment. I see it as a great opportunity to bring my skill sets together to help New Zealand farmers realise the potential from genetic gains,” says Julia.
It was while working as a vet in Waikato she learned that every dairy season follows the same pattern, and she started looking for a way to use her wide range of skills for the benefit of the industry.
“I came across the advert for the sales and marketing role at CRV. I realised I couldn’t think of a more perfect way to combine all my skills, working in a sales and marketing role with farmers who I have come to know well and still having contact with cows,” says Julia.
From ad agency to vet school
Julia’s experience as a vet opened her eyes to the complicated nature of farming as a business and she realised just how much depth there is to what farmers do.
“When I told my friends I was retraining as a vet they all thought I was mad. They had only seen me suited and booted. I’m originally from the fine dairying capital of Wellington. Farms to me had always been somewhere you visit and feed animals from rice crispy bags! I had no idea how dairy farms worked, but I thought it was an interesting world,” says Julia.
The more time she spent learning the more she realised she loved the physical and intellectual side of farming. She now lives in Matamata with her husband Daniel, three dogs, cats and birds she acquired during her time as a vet. She says she can’t imagine living anywhere but rural New Zealand.
“New Zealand Farmers have to be smart because their businesses are running on a knife edge the whole time,” says Julia. “So many things are out of their control, from the weather to the payout. Managing all that requires serious skills and expertise. When I became a vet, I knew I would be working with some smart people that would teach me things.”
As well as the wealth of learning she enjoyed as a vet, Julia also discovered how much she loves cows.
“Cows are some of the best animals you can meet. They’re lovely and gentle, and they have a great sense of humour that really appeals to me.”
Helping farmers think long-term
Julia says CRV’s job is about more than just getting cows in calf.
“What we do here at CRV is not only for the benefit of farmers, but also consumers, the animals themselves and the environment. By breeding healthier, more efficient cows we all win – the farmers, the wider community, and New Zealand.”
Julia says CRV has many levers to pull when it comes to improving the efficiency and productivity of our national herd. While evidence-based science companies like CRV offer farmers proven solutions, she believes the challenge is helping farmers understand that genetics is a long-term game.
“I want to work with farmers to help them think beyond getting their cows in calf each season and help them to stand back and think long term about what their goals are for their herds,” says Julia.
“As a vet over the years, I became a trusted adviser on farm and developed an understanding of the complexity and importance of having a long-term plan. I’d also like to see us working closer with vets as a total community of health and science specialists who can influence decisions being made on farm.
“I’m excited about the opportunities this role will give me to make a difference in one of our most important primary sectors.”