Kiwi Business Story: Leadership Development Programme - Tahu Huntley

Posted by Sequoya Harvey on Jun 29, 2022 10:00:00 AM


Tahu Huntley is the RSE Manager at Hortus and a Leadership Development Programme 32 cohort alumni.

This Kiwi Business Story is based on a Podcast from February 16, 2021, and all figures quoted are from that time. You can enjoy the complete Podcast here. 

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What business do you work for and what is your role?

Hortus is a large contracting company based in Marlborough, Blenheim, primarily in viticulture, specializing in horticulture. Within that, we do labour contracting and also machinery management and we also have a 356-bed accommodation facility, where we house our workers.


My role within the business is responsible for the recruitment and the pastoral care of seasonal Pacific labour. We get guys in from PNG Solomons, Vanuatu, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, and Tuvalu, and ladies as well. There's a lot of admin involved with the flights and organizing visas, working a lot with MSD, immigration, and MBIE.


Why did you join the Leadership Development Programme?

As a company, I think we've had, at least ten people go through the Leadership Development Programme (LDP), within our business.

Our owner is currently involved with the Owner Manager Programme and he's recently done the Owner Manger Exchange. Our company are big on The Icehouse, we love you guys.


How would you sum up your experience with The Icehouse?

Eye-opening.  When I looked across the table and heard some of the other experiences of other workers. I clicked, I've been through similar stuff, and you sort of bounce off each other. I clicked more that actually I can make more of a career of my life and myself and grow a lot more than I had currently up to that point.


What learnings did you take away from your Leadership Development Programme cohort?

The seminars were on point. The people that you get in to run those seminars are awesome. The slideshows and PowerPoints, everything is great.

The thing I took away most from the LDP were those learnings you get and the bouncing off each other, the sitting around the table at lunchtime and you might pick up on something in a seminar and then you'll sit down with someone and then we'll discuss it and we'll almost come up with our own answers. During that discussion, it was that people element of how everyone else was dealing with in the businesses and we're reflecting that back on yours and sharing your experiences.


What are some changes that you made within the business, since completing LDP?

My role back then was the Gardens Landscaping Manager. What happened was within me, I realised that I wanted to do something bigger than that, which is why I'm in this new role. What happened is that we actually shut down that whole division. The Gardening division was about half a dozen of us, just doing different contracts around the province.


What are lifestyle changes that came out of LDP?

I've done some massive internal changes mentally, and physically, in the last couple of years.

Resilience and all that field have been really big for me. So, just after I finished the LDP, my then seven-year-old son got diagnosed with a brain tumor, And that was just next level, my whole world just flipped.

He's all right now, it's been a tough couple of years, but he's good. He's back on his first day back at school for the year today, which is awesome. But I learned that I wanted to do something that had more impact on a wider group of people. Just doing stuff for myself, and my little family wasn't enough. I've never considered myself a particularly empathetic person. I feel like I've completely changed.

So, lifestyle-wise, I wanted to change a career into something where I can have more impact, which is why I'm doing what I'm doing. I literally have an impact on 1000s and 1000s of people. So last winter we had 364 RSC that I was responsible for. I had a really big affect on all these people and the money they can make. They send the money home to educate children and build houses and start businesses and that sort of stuff. In my heart, it's a good job. It's been a really big couple of years. These things I've learnt, I'll take with me for the rest of my life.


What's one piece of advice you give an employee who's stepping into a leadership position this year?

One thing I've learnt is being aware that as a leader how you are with everybody else creates the culture within the group. If you're getting to work, and for whatever reason you're tired and you're a little bit snappy, that sets the tone for everybody else for the rest of the day.

Come to work, focus, get in that mindset, make sure everyone else is happy, and then that reflects into the rest of the group.

Topics: Owner Manager Programme, Leadership Development Programme, Owner Manager Exchange, Malborough, Blenheim

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