The story of James

‘In this business you need to be honest and open’

James Bertram of Rijk Zwaan Australia at the Bacchus Marsh lettuce trial

James Bertram is Marketing and Communications Specialist for Rijk Zwaan Australia, but his role encompasses much more. With a technical background in crop development, James brought specialist knowledge to this role when he moved to the company’s Toronto office, two hours north of Sydney, in 2014.

Honest and open

“My role is split 50:50 between communications and marketing for Australia, and supporting our sales in New Zealand. I love that my role is so varied in nature. We have dialogue with all levels on the chain. We talk with the growers, the market traders, the retail buyers and the independent grocers to get a better idea of what is happening right across the value chain. This dialogue drives the decisions we make on how we breed and the direction we take. This explains why in this business it’s so important to be honest and open.”

Growing within the company

“I’d been working for Rijk Zwaan UK since 2008, most recently as an Account Manager and Crop Specialist for lettuce; I was involved in the technical side of the crop, the product development and account management. When a position of Communications and Marketing Specialist came up in the Toronto office, I saw it as an opportunity to use my technical knowledge and experience in marketing and to be closer to family in New Zealand. One thing about the company is it allows people to grow and change within the company, and not just the company locally, but the greater company.”

Making a difference

“What gets me up in the morning is the people. I’m on the phone half of the day talking to other colleagues or customers, trying to help them with issues and projects. I also like that we’re trying to add value for the final consumer, and farmers in development countries in Africa and Asia. If you want to be cynical you can say yes, it’s about selling seeds, but there’s no point selling those seeds if farmers can’t afford to do the right things with it. And so it’s about upskilling farmers and really making a difference.”