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Kim Hooper

Business Manager, West Coast

Curveballs. We can all relate to having them thrown at us every now and then – often when we least expect it. What’s important is how we deal with those curveballs. 

Kim Hooper, Business Manager for the Weka Complex on the mighty West Coast, knows all too well about curveballs. She was thrown one just last year but as she does with everything, she took it in her stride and turned it into a ‘glass half full’ situation. 

How it all began

“I went home from school and told my parents I was going to marry a farmer, and I think it broke their hearts!” Kim knows what she wants, always has, so she knew that following her passion was the only way to go. Kim followed her intuition and ended up at Massey University, coming away with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science. 

Entering the job market and finding the right role proved challenging, but an opportunity came up to be the Weka Dairy Business Analyst for Pāmu. “It was the perfect role but in the worst location!” Kim took the role anyway, not knowing that it would ultimately shape her career and lead her to where she is today. 

“Sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. It’s hard at the time but it’s worth it in the end.”

After just one year Kim found herself promoted to West Coast Business Analyst. She spent four years on the West Coast before an opportunity for a Livestock Business Manager came up on the East Coast of the North Island. Kim reluctantly moved north having fallen in love with the West Coast and all that it has to offer.

“I found it really hard to leave, I grew to love the Coast – I have a real soft spot for it.”

“I didn’t get that role but instead became the North Island Livestock Analyst, with the commitment to take on Business Manager responsibilities within the first six months for 2-4 farms. 

“I then had a conjoint role as the Business Manager for Ahuriri and Raurimu, whilst continuing in the analyst position based in the Hawke's Bay. It was great as I got to be involved in different livestock farming systems and across several different regions.”

Everything was going well, then…

“My role was disestablished the day we went unconditional on our first farm block in Hawke's Bay.”

Kim found herself back down on the West Coast, a long way from the recently purchased farm block – definitely not part of the plan, however it’s a move she’s making the most of.

A typical day

“I couldn’t tell you what a day looks like because every day is so different! What I like about these roles is you’re involved right across the business – you might be doing budgets one day, strategic plans for a mating programme the next, farm drives, recruitment, assurance – that’s what I love though. You get the strategic side as well as being out on farm enabling the day-to-day stuff.”

And with such a big role, there’s a lot to achieve, so every farm visit has a purpose. “There’s a lot to be covered people-wise with health and safety, and training. Then there’s the animals, their welfare and performance. And of course, production, and financial performance cross-checking numbers to make sure that what I’m being told is what’s actually happening.”

“We’re big on pride and presentation on the West Coast. Presenting a business to be proud of makes me want to work hard and engage the whole team.”


What gets Kim out of bed in the morning? “Money. I’m not kidding! I had to find a career that used every part of my degree. There’s no point in spending $50k on a degree to use just one part of it. So the diversity of this role is what drives me.”

But also, being happy at work is important to Kim, “You spend so much of your time working that you want to enjoy it – life’s short! You’ve got to make the most of it.”

And there’s a lot to love about being a Business Manager, it’s seeing the growth and performance of those in the team, and the vast improvements being made on farm. It’s the variety that comes with the role, the mix of corporate and farming. 

For Kim, farming excellence is key to doing a great job. 

“It’s doing the basics well, not forgetting about them – the wheels are round for a reason! If you focus on the top five percent and forget about the rest, you're not farming well. And if I’m not running an efficient farming business, I’m a liability to the business.”

Being genuine and grounded

Kim is all about being genuine and grounded. “How I conduct myself and support the people on the ground is really important to me – I need to be genuine with the farm team but also with the lead team, and that can look quite different.” 

Having worked across many parts of the business, Kim also knows the importance of working shoulder-to-shoulder and having one another’s backs. She’s all about sharing ideas and work so others can learn. Pāmu has such strong values, Kim find it hard to put one above the rest! 

“I’d struggle to put one over the other! But if I had to pick, the most powerful and relatable would be genuine. Being a good person, honest about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.”

Moments to be proud of

Given Kim has been with Pāmu for some time now, there’s been several ‘great moments’ but what tops the list is going from the bottom performing business to the top.

“When I started, we were the ugly cousin that no one wanted to know about, due to poor performance! Then in the 2021 financial year we were the highest return on asset business in Pāmu, and upon returning to the West Coast, the Weka Complex has achieved record milk production since the removal of Palm Kennel Extract (PKE).”

Returning to the West Coast and seeing that the business has continued to go from strength to strength as a result of putting the principles in place when they formed together as a team is the exciting part for Kim. Leaving the North Island wasn’t easy, she didn’t feel like she’d had the time to make the impact she wanted to. But getting down to the Coast and being part of the team again has really helped make that transition easier. 

What about the future?

“I don’t have a plan – that’s been me all along. I know what I want to achieve, and I will, but the journey to get there – I don’t know. I’ll take the right opportunities but turn down the wrong ones, and I’m not afraid to do that.

“Where will I be in five years’ time? I’ll be wherever I’m meant to be.”

With an attitude like that, Kim will definitely get to where she wants to be. She’s a force to be reckoned with and such an asset to the West Coast team.