It has been two years since the launch of our 2013 TalentNZ Journal. To mark this anniversary, each day over the next month we will share an interview with one of the 30 kiwis and provide an update on where they are now.


Today we share Anna Campbell’s full interview which you can read here.

Two years on, we checked in with Anna Campbell and asked her four questions about what she has been doing since we published the journal. You can read Anna’s responses below.

1. Two years on I am …
I am now the managing director of AbacusBio (as of April 2015). Our company is still growing steadily; we are still very focused on working with our clients to use science and technology to improve food production. We are growing our international clients and investigating more to develop projects in countries such as Brazil and China.

2. Recent thoughts on how to build a talent-based economy  …
At a business level, as we grow bigger, we are very focused on maintaining our culture of self-drive. This means that while we need to invest more in processes (part of growth and efficiency), we still continue to ensure that decision making happens as widely as possible within the company and that we create an open environment where mistakes are learned from, not demonised, and people are willing to listen to each other no matter their age or background. Our business culture has always been important, but as we grow bigger, it almost becomes more precious as we have to work harder to make sure we remain nimble, innovative and driven.

At a national economy level, I am heartened to see more people including agri-business and agri-science elements in their degrees. The food production supply chain is crying out for talented people of different backgrounds, technically and culturally. A career encompassing some aspect of food production for any young New Zealander will open many doors. In saying that, I am concerned that the recent drops in dairy prices will cause a backlash away from investing in agriculture. I firmly believe we need to be investing more in adding value to our export products and targeting health markets and fast moving consumer goods categories. This requires new and different talent to what we have in our current commodity model; we will need more food technologists, more food marketers, and we will still need the very best producers and logistics experts.

3. Books, research and talks that have shaped my thinking  …
I think what is happening in the food world is exemplified by Cambell’s Soup as described in a Financial Times article by Gary Silverman: ’Craft versus Kraft’. This is a good read for anyone with food interests who is hoping to develop their talents in the agri-arena. For resources more directly related to talent development, I found Bill Quirke’s ’Making the Connections’ a good read from an organisational viewpoint in terms of developing best practice internal communications, so everyone is on the same page and working together to execute strategy. I am currently reading and thoroughly enjoying Laslo Bock’s insights from Google ’Work Rules’. I think so many people get caught up in the symbols of funky; innovative companies like Google, such as the billiard tables, or beanbag rooms. I think by focusing on the symbols, the things we can see, we lose the essence of what those companies actually do to develop talent. To really develop talent, as a company you have to really believe that your people are core to who you are; and that engagement with and buy-in to the company philosophy has to happen for everyone at every level. How we treat people, listen to people and believe in people is so critical to success. So for me, talent development and culture development will always be about continuing to believe in people and working to help people be the best they can be. Having the best coffee machine might help that, but personally, I believe it goes much deeper than that and that is what we should focus on at every level of talent development.

4. Any additional thoughts for young people?
If you find yourself getting negative, talk with people, find inspiration, don’t get caught up in politics of workplaces. Keep open-minded about what you are interested in and what you are good at; sometimes it takes a while to figure out. Be patient; opportunities will come if you look out for them and are willing to take a risk. A personal word to young mums as well: career advances will often slow during early childhood years, it’s an incredibly busy time. Just keep your hand in – keep chipping away – your energy and opportunities will come back!

Connect with TalentNZ
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TalentNZ Journal: Grow talent edition
We are currently in the planning and research stages of our 2016 TalentNZ Journal: Grow talent edition. The journal will illustrate grassroots initiatives that New Zealanders are doing to grow talent. Our focus is on encouraging innovative ways to develop talent across New Zealand. The Grow talent edition will be the second edition in our TalentNZ Journal series.

About TalentNZ
The 2013 TalentNZ Journal is part of our TalentNZ project. TalentNZ is designed to facilitate a structured discussion on how to make New Zealand’s talent-based economy flourish. The Journal features interviews with 30 Kiwis, essays from contributing writers and data with a focus on cities and the economy. The 2013 Journal, and in particular the 30 interviews, showed us that by managing the four integrated work-streams – grow, attract, retain and connect – New Zealand is more likely to become a healthy, dynamic and interesting place to live in the long-term. TalentNZ builds on Sir Paul Callaghan’s vision of making New Zealand ‘a place where talent wants to live’. Sir Paul outlined the reasons why his vision is important in a 20-minute video at the Institute’s StrategyNZ workshop in 2011. To learn more about the TalentNZ project see

If you have any questions about the TalentNZ project, please contact us at