Trina Jones is the Co-founder of Cultivate and an Owner Manager Programme alumni.
This Kiwi Business Story is based on a podcast from 19 October 2023, and all figures quoted are from that time. You can enjoy the complete podcast here.
What does Cultivate do?
[We work on] delivering contract and permanent solutions… in that office-orientated space; accounting, supply chain, logistics, business support, customer services, HR, and marketing. Essentially, we seek businesses out (right across New Zealand), and provide a range of talent solutions, our focus being on recruitment, clearly, and the end-to-end process, but we are also very clear that sometimes there are customers who would like our help with parts of the service. So some of the work we do might be consulting led – sitting alongside the customer and helping them with the hiring process itself.
You started the business during Covid?
Covid, for many people, was a time of reflection [and] ‘what do you want to do next?’ That basically manifested into an opportunity for us to get Cultivate underway. Some people might have thought, ‘what were we thinking?’ [But] it just felt right. We had all of these amazing people, and we could do it, we could step off that corporate juggernaut and actually work together and deliver some great outcomes or talent outcomes for customers.
So, yes, we set up the business a couple of years ago. It’s my first time being a business owner. Lots to learn. But it's been an incredible journey, and I think we are very blessed that we had a number of people who believed in what we were trying to achieve in setting up the business and jumped on that bandwagon with us.
What is your deep sense of purpose?
I'm a big goal setter. I like to have lofty goals [and] I like to have short-term goals. But a part of that is thinking about what are the building blocks that allow you to get there. And you see that through people as well.
So, if you've got a new starter and you're thinking about the journey that they need to go on: ‘what's the endgame?’, ‘What's the end goal?’ What can you do to make sure that you can focus on the building blocks to help get them there, and then when you start to see those moments, aha moments, little wins, big wins, it’s what makes you smile – seeing people start to really build confidence in what they're doing. And I guess my deep sense of purpose is built around achieving those goals.
How was your Icehouse experience?
There's a whole host of things that I took away. For me, a couple of the key things were, know your numbers… you can rely on an accountant, but you need to be across your numbers. You need to make sure you understand what the levers are. Having insight and understanding is really important.
[Another] key piece was, if you don't look after yourself, you can't look after others. I think I'm a pretty resilient person. But again, to become resilient or to withstand things when they don't go your way, you need to make sure that you look after number one, to make sure you’re best positioned to look after others.
Then the last piece, which we pretty much did when I came out of the last session, was making sure you keep zooming out. You've got to make sure that you take a step back, zoom out, and you can see what the opportunities, threats or issues are that might be coming down. You see, for example, AI and technology and the rate at which it's moving. It’s incredibly scary but you've got to keep your eye on it, what does that mean as an opportunity, but also as a threat.
What does the future of Cultivate look like?
If I was to gaze into the future, obviously, we'd love to be bigger. But, again, we've always had a view that we want to grow in the right way, with the very best people…
We want to perhaps look at some other specialisations that complement what we do and make sense, and where we can work with customers in a greater capacity…
So considered growth, in the right way but, also, and I've touched on it (in the podcast), we want to continue our work in that DE&I (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) space. We would love to be known as being thought leaders and, in a nice way, agitating the market to make sure we're really thinking about what for some businesses is very much the fabric of what they do.