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Career change brought manager job in horticulture

December 21, 2020

Technical Services Manager Svetlana Drinnan loves working outside.

Moving to a foreign country often forces people to change careers. This is certainly the case for Svetlana Drinnan. Originally from Moscow, Russia, Svetlana has studied economics and marketing. She worked in advertising for a Russian telecommunications company before embarking on a big trip around the world where she met her Kiwi husband.

For 13 years, they lived in Brisbane, where they had their two children. Over five years ago, they decided to relocate to Hawke’s Bay, home of Svetlana’s husband. “The big question at this stage was what I wanted to do with myself,” remembers Svetlana. In Australia, Svetlana had been a stay-at-home-mum while being able to pursue her biggest passion, painting. She knew, however, that it would be hard to make a steady income as an artist.

“Fortunately, I have many interests, and plants are one of them. We live in the fruit bowl of New Zealand, so the choice to do something with fruit production was pretty natural,” says Svetlana. In 2016, she enrolled in a level 3 Sustainable Fruit Production programme at the Hastings Learning Centre. “I love gardening, but I had absolutely no horticulture experience, and learning the technical terminology was like learning a new language. This course was like building a bridge between two stages of life,” says Svetlana. Svetlana says that her tutor Brydon Nisbet was wonderful. Brydon was also the one who connected his “star student” with the local industry.

Svetlana buckled down, and Brydon rewarded her dedication with a referral to Fruition, where she landed a job as a horticultural technician. Demonstrating interest and a can-do attitude, Svetlana was soon promoted to Technical Services Manager. But it’s never a walk in the park to climb the ladder. “I worked very hard, and I have lovely work colleagues who supported me through these changes,” she says. Svetlana is now managing teams of trappers and technicians, who look after the pest and disease monitoring for a big number of clients.

“What I enjoy most about my job is the variety of tasks and the perfect balance between working outside and in the office. I love nature, the sunshine, and to see the change of seasons. Pest and disease monitoring, crop estimates, analysing data, trialling, report writing, meetings, looking after the website – it’s all part of the job.”

Svetlana says she is constantly growing on the job, and her brain keeps being challenged. What continues to really excite her, however, is art. So whenever she finds the time, she picks up the brushes and let her creativity run free. In 2016, she had a solo-exhibition in Hastings, and a couple of paintings are currently displayed at the Art Shed gallery. A passion remains a passion, and, after all, Svetlana doesn’t do things by halves.