Linzi Naisbitt – Internal Sales Executive
My background could not be further removed from AgriTech – it’s about having the right transferable skills. Working in a BT call centre in the early days before moving to the hospitality sector has proved not just great life experience but means I’m adept in a customer-facing role.
I also previously ran a pub which was pretty much 24/7. Talk about being thrown in at the deep end! Not only was I on the front-line serving customers but I had to immerse myself in all the business aspects too. It turns out the experience has served me well.
“It’s true that people buy people”
I like talking to and meeting people, which I think is a pre-requisite in my role. I think in life as in business, it’s not just about that simple transaction. From personal experience, whether it was someone sat at the bar, a guest in a hotel, or a client we were running a quarter of a million-pound event for like in my last job, I would still talk to them exactly the same, getting to know them and building that rapport with them. It’s true that people buy people.
All days are different, but fundamentally part of my role is focused on lead generation. The first stage is picking up the phone; getting through to the right person can be a challenge. You want to speak with the growers and agronomists, but the majority of their time is naturally spent in their closed environment, be it a glasshouse, polytunnel or vertical farm. It can take up to six months to actually start that initial conversation. I’m a very persistent person which is an advantage in this role; you’ve just got to keep chipping away. Don’t let the ‘nos’ affect you. I see 30 ‘nos’ as being the countdown to my first yes.
If I was giving advice to my 21-year-old self, I’d say to not give up. Self-confidence and perseverance are two things I’ve learned within the last few years, as well as resilience. I used to take things to heart and see criticism as a failure rather than use to more constructively as a springboard to personal learning and development.
“An open mind and a thirst for knowledge are key”
Although I’m not from this industry I have a thirst for knowledge. Prior to starting at LST, I dedicated time to immerse myself in AgriTech to understand the industry more. When I actually started the role, I absorbed everything I could from people I talked with, just learning about the use of light within a growing environment or the effect of too many plant nutrients. Even now, every day feels like a school day as technology is evolving at a rate of knots. I think it is important to have an open mind and know that it that you are still learning, no matter what job you’re in.
I’ve been here a year but I feel like I’ve been here for so much longer. For the first five months, I hadn’t met one person in real life. Although it was very surreal to be coming into the office for the first time, I’d established a rapport with the team online so I felt like I knew everyone already.
“More consumer and business accountability for our food system will drive AgriTech”
I feel it’s just the beginning for AgriTech. People are more conscious about where the food’s coming from and the food miles. Look at how veganism has taken off over the last couple of years. There’s now more accountability with our food and planet, from both consumers and businesses. Everyone’s now considering home grown more and supporting local businesses, which has stemmed from COVID. I think it’s just the start of what opportunities are available in the sector.
I definitely think the urban side of indoor farming will flourish in the next few years. Through a government and local community push, I think we’ll see agriculture brought to towns and cities, for example office space being used to install vertical farms, so they’re combining the two needs and utilising the space rather than having to erect more buildings. We all know redundant buildings like this in our own community or towns, and I think it’s a really effective use of space for growing fresh, tasty produce.