Mr Apple is the New Zealand exporting success story that only a few kiwis have heard of. Mr Apple is the country’s largest vertically integrated apple company, meaning that they control every aspect of apple production from planting to growing, packing, sales and distributing. They’re proud of the fact that they only do apples and they’re quick to admit that they’re a little obsessed when it comes to the classic fruit.
Mr Apple is a major international player when it comes to fruit export. With consumer markets across Asia, Europe and America, they’re New Zealand’s leading global apple exporter serving over 45 countries.
Based in the Hawke’s Bay, Mr Apple’s 15 stunning orchards and Post-Harvest sites need a peak seasonal team of over 2,000 people to get the fruit from the trees and into the hands of customers. With the ongoing effects of COVID on staffing levels, shipping timelines and international talent recruitment, this season has proven more challenging than most.
“Whilst Mr Apple has faced numerous challenges over the years, this year has certainly been a year like no other with the impact of Covid,” says Head of People & Culture, Nicola Brightwell. “Despite the significant challenges we faced, the people of Mr Apple shone through and everyone truly stepped up to deliver and help teammates and other teams out. We’re proud to be part of a company that has a culture of ‘Stronger together’ and that our company values are more than words on paper” said Nicola.
“The pandemic has taught us many things but planning ahead so that when uncertainty and adversity hits, our people and operations are rock solid is key. That’s why, this year, Mr Apple is committed to using new and innovative methods to attract people to join the family”.
Charged with managing the upcoming orchard recruitment campaign, Rosa Scott, Talent & Engagement Manager, believes that now is the opportune time to focus on our brand locally and making sure kiwis understand why Mr Apple should be at the top of your list of companies to grow a fruitful career. “Following the end of the harvest, when we shift from picking apples to pruning, now is a great time for us to make sure that we bring more of the right people into our business to guarantee ongoing growing success.”
Ms Scott says that they will be launching an Orchard recruitment campaign soon. When asked what kind of candidates are ideal, Ms Scott says that experience isn’t at the top of the list, but mindset and work ethic are. “We’re looking for motivated, committed people who have a thirst for learning.” “We provide training and support ongoing qualifications and certifications as part of our commitment to growing our people.”
Roles on the orchards include Orchardist, Supervisor, Senior Leading Hand, Foreman, Assistant Manager and Orchard Manager. In addition to these roles, there are often opportunities for our people with potential to undertake horizontal or diagonal moves across the business, taking up roles in the Post-Harvest and Business Support Services departments.
Ms Scott is under no illusion about the upcoming recruitment drive. “We know it will be a tough market again this year. With an unemployment rate of 3.2% in New Zealand, there’s a significant talent shortage, so we are doing our very best to illustrate the benefits of not only joining the fruit export industry but, specifically, joining the leading team, Mr Apple.”
Priding itself on being a values-led organisation which puts people first, Mr Apple has recently undergone a refresh of its values. With a focus on what one employee said was the “we mahi as one” attitude, themes of togetherness, diversity, innovation and always learning drives the developing culture of the business.
“Our values really define who we are as a company, and we’re clear about embedding these values into everything we do, and that include recruitment.”
One of the new innovations that Mr Apple is bringing into this campaign is Orchard Experience Days. These days will mean that interested people can come along to the orchards and see how they tick. “We know one of our main advantages is that we have a pretty good set up – we’re out in nature, we have an amazing climate, we experience the best that New Zealand landscape has to offer, we work with a team of dedicated people who know how to balance doing a great job with having a lot of fun and we get to play a key role in producing a premium product that is enjoyed by people around the world.”
“I think our point of difference is that we really consider ourselves to be experts – we’re laser-focused on apples, which means all of our resources and training go into ensuring that we have the very best apples, and we know to produce them, we need the very best people.”
“We want our people to enjoy coming to work – that means getting the workplace culture right but also making sure that people know that there is career progression here if they want it. Some don’t – they might be happy coming in for a season while they’re travelling or because it suits their lifestyle, and this is welcomed, but for those who want to progress, we have those pathways.” For those looking to climb the ladder, they need only look to Mr Apple’s own Senior Leadership team – a CEO who started off picking apples and feels as at home behind the wheel of a tractor as he does in the boardroom and a Head of People & Culture whose first job was picking apples and pumpkins.
“We’re really serious when we say that we want to grow our people, if one of the Mr Apple team players is keen to progress then we will do all we can to help them fulfil their potential because we really do grow experts.”