Dani McBride has recently been appointed as nursery manager at Rural Design in Mangawhai. Dani has an inspiring story so we're taking a closer look at her career journey.
Originally from the UK, Dani and her family moved to Auckland during her high school years. After leaving school, Dani decided to work for a while before she studied at university.
She joined landscaping company Farmers Daughter and quickly found that she had a real passion for plants so deferred university. Initially this was just for a year but in turned out to be for good.
At Farmers Daughter, Dani learned the fundamentals of plant care such as plant health, garden maintenance, and pest and weed management.
Dani's curiosity and drive to learn led her to explore other areas of plant care, and she spent some time working as an arborist, doing everything from chain-sawing trees to using ride-on mowers. Keen to get back into landscaping, Dani then joined Paysage Landscape.
“I was part of an awesome crew at Paysage. I did lots of hardscaping work there such as decking, concrete work and fencing and learned more about biocontrol, organic chemicals and plant health.”
After a move to Mangawhai in 2018, Dani was looking for another landscaping role when she met with Blake Worsfold from Rural Design and was introduced to the world of plant production. Initially she wasn’t sure because of her love for landscaping, but her first job at Rural Design was as a tree planter so she still worked out in the field. She undertook riparian, reveg and wetland plantings during the winter and hand-releasing and maintenance in the summer.
“Then the nursery needed a hand so I helped out for a few days and have never left.”
After two years of general work in the nursery such as weeding, trimming and potting Dani started picking out orders and organising the trollies and truck deliveries. As Rural Design got bigger, it was a natural progression to this becoming a full-time position so Dani became Dispatch and Procurement manager.
“This involved a lot of behind the scenes logistics. I communicated with everyone – clients, truck drivers, foremen, managers. I sourced the plants we didn’t grow and decided what we needed to grow the following year.”
During this time, Dani entered the 2021 NZPPI Young Achiever Award, which she won, and was named runner-up at Young Horticulturist of the Year 2021. Her future as an industry leader was very apparent to all the judges.
In 2022, Dani's role at the nursery expanded yet again and she became the Production and Procurement manager. This was a more industry-based role and Dani was responsible for tender projects and forecasts for production, sowing, growing and sourcing.
Earlier this year, she was appointed as the nursery manager, which means Dani now in charge of managing staff, overseeing operations, forecasting budgets, and innovating better systems.
For Dani, one of the most important parts of her job is developing the people who work with her. Rural Design has a lot of staff who are new to the industry, and Dani's passionate about helping them learn, develop their skills, and build their careers in plant care.
"I'm excited to get as many people as possible keen to learn and train in the industry."
Dani's journey to becoming a nursery manager at Rural Design is a testament to her hard work, passion, and dedication to plant care. As Dani herself puts it, "I'm looking forward to continuing to develop the nursery and the team and making sure that we're producing the best plants we can."