Spotlight on a member: Amy Akers

Like many people who work in the horticultural industry, I have not done it my entire working life. Most of my career has involved working in various legal admin roles during and after completing a HR degree, including as a legal secretary, paralegal, compliance and training manager, and a workflows and precedents coordinator. Most of the time this was involving WorkCover litigation. 


I didn’t have an interest in gardening growing up, but spent many years bushwalking with my parents, which is where it all started. It wasn’t until I moved out of home and had my own garden that I took a keen interest. Whilst working in the legal sector, I decided to complete a Bachelor of Science part-time with a major in Ecology and Environmental Management, and a minor in Plant Science. I initially didn’t intend to study plants, but I quickly found them fascinating and enrolled in more plant-related subjects. 


Whilst completing my degree, I decided to volunteer at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Cranbourne as a Garden Ambassador to obtain some experience. I quickly gained an obsession with Australian native plants and enjoyed taking visitors on tours. I then joined the Friends of the Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne and was on their committees, helped organise events, and ran their social media accounts. I have met lots of like-minded people who I love to catch up with regularly.


After I completed my degree I applied for many environmental science jobs, but I did not have any luck in gaining a position. Because of my volunteering experience, I decided to cast my net wider and ended up getting a role as a Sales Manager at a local wholesale trade nursery, which I did for a few years. I still remember the first time I gave plant advice over the phone and realised I was being paid for it. It was an amazing feeling. I worked with some great people, but realised sales wasn’t for me. I really wasn’t sure what to do, so I ended up returning to legal admin roles for a few years.


During the COVID lockdowns, I gained some perspective and realised that I would like to work locally and preferably in the horticultural industry again. I was very grateful to gain a position at Ball Australia, a large wholesale nursery. I initially assisted in their Scheduling Team, then as an interim Seed Room team leader, before becoming their Systems & Compliance Manager last year. I look after health and safety, as well as assisting with documenting standard operating procedures as part of their quality management system.


Going from WorkCover litigation to injury prevention is much more fulfilling – with the bonus that I can still see plants every day and work in a nursery! Some days can be challenging, but I enjoy being able to work with so many people across multiple departments and learn what they do. I am glad that I am part of the horticultural industry again.

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