Perrin Ag’s newest appointment strengthens the firm’s government sector expertise

Perrin Ag’s newest consultant brings government sector experience to the firm as it continues to help inform policy decisions that affect our primary sectors.  

Born and bred in Tauranga, Courtney Stone (24) has a double major in Environmental Science & Physical Geography from Victoria University, and a certificate in Intermediate Sustainable Nutrient Management from Massey University.

She has experience with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) in cross-cutting policy work, making her adept at problem solving and communicating complex information to government agencies and sector groups.

Before joining Perrin Ag, Courtney was a Sustainable Land Use Systems Advisor for MPI in Wellington. Now, she is part of the team that works beyond the farm gate to help shape the systems and policies that directly affect what happens on farm. Courtney has an interesting way of describing her role.

“It’s about providing insight and carrying the voice of our farmers and growers into discussions about the future of our sector. When government and regional councils come to Perrin Ag, they want to know how their policies and processes will stack up in the on-farm world. They have the bones of an idea, but they’re looking to Perrin Ag to flesh it out and see how it might work in a practical sense.

“My job is largely project work involving research into farm systems and future farming opportunities as well as connecting with key stakeholders. I have also been working with industry groups and agribusinesses to contribute to thought leadership and future farm systems analysis.”

Courtney explains that the Government often doesn’t have the resource or in-house expertise to carry out specialised research, so it turns to experts like Perrin Ag to help them inform policy development.

“The information can be very technical and very dense. My job is to take into account the current environment and future direction of the sector and apply a strategic perspective to inform policy makers and their decision making. In that sense, I get the chance to guide the direction of a policy in ways that help farmers.”

Perrin Ag Principal Consultant Carla Muller was instrumental in recruiting Courtney to the team.

“Courtney stood out because her thought processes are considered and logical, but she can also think outside the box and challenge our own thinking,” says Carla. “She cares about outcomes and has passion and drive. It’s hard finding people like that, people you can give a client’s problem to knowing they will give you a high-quality solution. Courtney is that person.”

At Perrin Ag, analysing complex material and forming conclusions is a team job. They often brainstorm and test ideas with each other. It’s an approach that resonates with Courtney.

“I’ve played team sports most of my life, so the idea of people having different roles but working together is normal to me. So, I love the collaboration at Perrin Ag. If I bring my work to the team, they’ll ask, ‘Have you thought about this?’ or ‘But what about that?’ There’s quite a bit of spit-balling that goes on to make sure we land on the best ideas and solutions for our clients.”

At times, finding answers to get the best outcome for its clients requires the Perrin Ag team to do more than data analysis. Assumptions may need to be challenged or existing processes questioned to open the way for creative options. Both come naturally to Courtney.

“I loved physics when I was younger because I wanted to understand systems and how things worked. I can’t help asking ‘Why is that the way we do things? Do we have to do it that way?

“That’s a big part of what drew me to the ag sector. There are lots of opportunities for innovation. A client will come to us with a problem and give us the freedom to explore ideas and come up with a solution. I see the value in that which is why I’m passionate about this sector.”

Lee Matheson

Managing Director
Principal Consultant

B.Appl.Sc (Hons), FNZIPIM (Reg)

Lee came to agribusiness consultancy via the unlikely pathway of a suburban Wellington upbringing, an Honours degree in plant science and a six-year career in the financial markets. In his role as the firm’s MD, Lee doesn’t get out on-farm as much as he used to but makes the most of it when he does. While having swapped the paddock for the boardroom, Lee continues to provide advice in the areas of farm business strategy, farm system innovation, corporate governance, investment analysis and economic research.

Outside of Perrin Ag, Lee loves to spend his time coaching rugby, watching his three kids play sport and gardening with his wife Haidee.

“I love the challenge of empowering people in our primary sectors and the excitement of seeing clients achieving their aspirations. If we can encourage farmers to engage with their consumers, take a more active involvement in their supply chains and view their businesses through a wider lens, then I think our industries have a great future.”