Tuesday, July 24, 2012

How to Find Work in a New Zealand Winery

Heather Batterbys of winejobsonline.com.

William interviews Heather Battersby of winejobsonline.

Ah, the dream of living and working in New Zealand. Do you daydream about this too? I recently had an enjoyable conversation with Heather Battersby, of winejobsonline.com.

The creation of Paddy and Heather Battersby of Auckland, New Zealand, winejobsonline.com is connecting wine employers and jobseekers, via their company Battersby HR Consulting. A human resources consultancy to small and medium sized businesses.

Here's the text of the conversation with William Pollard Jr of Kiwi Daydreaming and Heather Battersby of winejobsonline.com this week:

William: Hi Heather, how long have you been recruiting for the New Zealand wine industry?

Heather: Winejobsonline.com kicked off in September 2004, but via our Battersby HR Consulting business we have been helping wine employers with various HR needs (including in-house recruitment) since 1999…. You could say we are the New Zealand wine industry’s specialist recruitment and HR people. We (husband/business partner, Paddy and I) have many years of wine industry experience between us over several areas.

William: What are the most in demand winery jobs?

Heather: Traditionally winemaking ones. Everyone wants to be a winemaker but there are only a few that come up (lots of cellar hands positions). And we have more people looking for sales jobs than we have jobs quite often.

William: Are these full-time/part-time/temporary or permanent positions?

Heather: Mostly full time permanent roles.

William: What is the most exciting part of this job?

Heather: Hearing that someone has got a particular job that they applied for and are taking a step up in their career.  I get a real buzz out of connecting those job-seekers and employers together and hearing who got what job!

William: Are there opportunities for expats (North Americans) in New Zealand?

Heather: Yes!  Especially for vintage jobs when international winemaking experience is valued. And, in the New Zealand Pinot regions (mostly Central Otago) winemakers from Oregon are very welcome.

William: What are some of the perks of working in New Zealand?

Heather: Well….. the wine of course! Great Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot… The fact that we know most people in the industry here, and most people know us, so a trade event is quite often a big reunion, it’s great to catch up with everyone no matter where in the country they are from.

William: Could you tell me some of the key things U.S. job applicants should know about working in New Zealand?

Heather: If they are coming for a winery vintage job, then investigate what they need to do to get a work visa and be proactive about it.  New Zealand wine employers will help, but they are busy and prefer to assist rather than have to do everything, so a proactive approach is appreciated.

Overseas applicants also need to know that kiwis (as we like to call ourselves – people not the bird in this case) in the wine industry in particular are very hard working and are used to relentless hours over vintage; there’s no room for slackers in a winery over vintage. They have to pull their weight and pitch in to do what ever is required. No prima donnas on the payrolls here. Don’t think it’s going to be a holiday till after the grapes are all in!

William: Point taken. Do you have examples of mistakes applicants from North America make when applying for work in New Zealand?

Heather: No, I don’t really. Most applications go straight to the employers not to me (unless we are helping the employer recruit for a particular role).  Some CVs (resumés) are pretty hard to read because of their layouts and don’t give the best picture of the job-seekers credentials; and some just don’t explain what the job-seekers have experience in. A CV is designed to get that person into the “Must See” pile of CVs an employer has to wade through.  You want an interview, not to be put in to the No pile straight away…  You don’t get a 2nd chance to make a first impression.

William: I guess I'm also wondering about the cost of living in Auckland and in other parts of New Zealand wine country. Is New Zealand an expensive country to live in?

Heather: Um, well, I haven’t lived overseas for 30 years so I don’t really know what to compare it with – some things here are pretty expensive but others not so.  Wine has been pretty well priced for some time so that’s always an affordable bonus.  Some things are pricey here in Auckland, like insurance, housing and transport costs, but in other regions other things seem more expensive.

William: Off topic: What are some of your favorite New Zealand dishes?

Heather: Oh, our beautiful seafood. New Zealand is an island so we are used to lots of fresh fish and seafood and paired with fabulous Rieslings, Chardonnays or Sauvignon Blancs, they are a great combination. Especially in the summer.  Then there’s our famous roast lamb and classic pavlova dessert combinations – come down and visit and I will cook for you!

William: Sounds wonderful, once I get down there you're on. 

Okay, one more: What wine did you last enjoy at home?

Heather: I have been trying to have lots of AFD’s (alcohol free days) recently so haven’t been drinking much. But we had some wine people here last week because of a series of Cellar Door Initiative Workshops I have been involved with, and we opened a few treasures.  A 1990 Penfolds Bin 389; Julicher 99 Rows (Martinborough) Pinot Noir (2007 I think); Greystone (Waipara) Riesling 2010 and a glorious Alsatian Riesling. That’s a fairly exceptional line up in this house tho – we probably drink more Chardonnays than anything else for every day enjoyment – one of New Zealand’s underrated wines we think.

William: I will keep looking for New Zealand Chardonnay.

Thank you Heather for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with me.

Heather: Pleasure. Nice talking to you too!

William: Heather, is there anything else you'd like to mention before we sign off?

Heather: Yes! We have loads of international winemakers using winejobsonline.com and looking for jobs all over the world, not just in New Zealand, so if you could help get the word out that wineries everywhere should be advertising their jobs with us to connect with not just New Zealand, but international wine folk, then that would be awesome, and appreciated.

William: You got it Heather :)

Okay you Oregon winemakers, New Zealand is waiting for you! Just tell them that Kiwi Daydreaming sent you, there's a roast lamb waiting for me in Auckland.

Mauriora! (Good Health/Cheers!)

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