“When people love your products, it just makes it so much better”: talking crop protection with Anna Anderson


Anna Anderson has worked in BASF crop protection for three years

On most days you can find Anna Anderson, Territory Manager for Crop Protection, driving around the North Island of New Zealand visiting resellers and farmers. Her territory covers more than 600 kms, from Northland to Taranaki, and mainly sees her promoting herbicides for maize, potatoes and onions. “I really like being in the car with resellers and visiting their customers, the end users,” said Anna. “It’s a pretty cool job… sometimes you’re in a paddock looking at a maize crop, and you think ‘it’s weird that I’m getting paid to be out here, in this beautiful field.’”

While Anna loves her job today, growing up she had no desire to work on the land. “I was bought up on sheep and beef farm in central north island of New Zealand, so I’ve always been a part of the agricultural industry, but I didn’t think I wanted to work in ag it just kind of happened that way,” she explained. Although Anna attended a university that specialised in agricultural studies, she chose to study business, “I thought if you worked in ag you were a farmer and that was seen as more of a ‘man’s job’, so thought ‘what’s the point?’”

After graduating university, Anna worked as an account assistant for a large agricultural company, before going overseas for a few years. When she came back to New Zealand she was offered a sales position for a fertilizer company. After initially declining the job offer, fearing her lack of knowledge and sales experience would hold her back, the hiring manager persisted, and Anna eventually agreed. “I did it for six months and loved it,” she said. “I think because it’s what I knew, what I’d grown up with. It was just dealing with people like my parents so it was easy to build relationships and relate to the customer.”

Three years ago Anna joined BASF’s agricultural solutions team and started selling herbicides, a completely new field. “When I moved across to BASF I didn’t know anything about chemicals or how they worked, but I had the other half of the job which is relationships with growers: understanding their business and asking the right questions to be interested in what they’re doing.” Fortunately, Anna says, her BASF peers were always on hand to share their own knowledge and experience. “I’m lucky that I have really good colleagues,” she said, “we’ve got a guy in the South Island, Grant Hagerty, and he’s been with the company for over 30 years- I’m constantly on the phone to him asking him questions.”

While driving across the north island of New Zealand to visit every reseller and customer during spring can be challenging and mean a lot of time away from home, Anna says this is when she gets the most satisfaction out of her job. From her roots, Anna understands that farmer’s crops are their livelihood, and she enjoys helping them increase their yield. “The biggest part of our job is trying to gain people’s trust, so you recommend the right product- not necessarily your product it could be someone else’s- because if you give sound advice, then you’re going to have them repeatedly ring you”. Anna concludes that having great products to start with makes her job so much better, “it’s good when it’s your job to advise products, and people love your products.”