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 undertakes a dual role at Rijk Zwaan. As Account Manager for Oceania, James looks after the company’s accounts and distributors in New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. In addition, he is also a Crop Specialist, supporting the Australian high tech cropping industry.

Honest and open

James joined Rijk Zwaan’s United Kingdom (UK) office as an Account Manager and Crop Specialist for lettuce, before settling in Australia in 2014 in a role split between marketing communications and account management. 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, Australia in 2014.

Now based in New Zealand, James works closely with Rijk Zwaan distributor, Terranova Seeds, working with them on product development and product lifecycle, supply logistics and biosecurity compliance.

“I love that my role is so varied in nature and allows for dialogue across all levels of the supply chain. I talk with growers, market traders, retail buyers and 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 directions 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 as an Account Manager and Crop Specialist. I was involved in the technical side of the crop, the product development and account management. When the position of Marketing Communication Specialist came up in the Toronto office, we saw it as an opportunity to use my technical knowledge and experience in marketing, and it was also a chance to be closer to family in New Zealand.

After 7 years working in Australia, COVID accelerated a discussion with the company about basing myself in New Zealand to provide an extra level of support to Terranova and their customers, plus the timing felt right to move closer to family to New Zealand and base myself there.

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