April Sexsmith has served as general manager at Egg Farmers of New Brunswick for close to 30 years. Before that, she worked on several other marketing boards in a mix of supply managed industries and non-supply managed sectors.
She then did a short stint with the provincial government working at the department of education before finding her true calling in the egg industry. With Sexsmith set to retire later this year, we asked her five questions.
You moved between several industries before landing in your current role. What is it about the egg industry that kept you interested for nearly 30 years?
What has kept me here is the diversity. My job has changed so much over 29 years. There’s never been a time to step back and say, “Gee, I wish I had a few more challenges on my plate.” We’re one of the most dynamic industries. The Canadian egg industry always has a challenge and always meets that challenge head on. Really, our house is in good working order.
Describe the biggest challenges you’ve encountered in your role.
The biggest challenges have been around trade. For instance, when we lost our first protection, our article 22, and had to move to tariffs. And then we saw our market continually eroded as we entered into more trade deals. Sustaining your industry when that happens is the biggest challenge.
What is your proudest achievement from your time working in the egg industry?
I wouldn’t be able to list just one. My proudest moments are anything new I’ve been able to achieve side by side with the board. Take strategic planning, for example. Bringing the board into the strategic planning process, setting our vision and direction and continuing to do that is a proud moment. Also, setting up the new entrant program. And getting all our regulations and policies and structure in place so we can operate under a fair and equitable structure has been a defining moment. Just being able to represent New Brunswick at the national committee level is a proud moment as well. Any time I can be out there talking about our industry, how great our province and our producers are – I do that with a lot of pride.
Any advice for your successor?
My key piece of advice would be to always put your industry first, whether that’s in the decisions you make or the proposals you put forward. And as one of my directors likes to say, make sure you’re doing the right things for the right reasons.
Any post-retirement plans?
My first plans are just to see how it feels not to work for a while. I’ve never had a break other than on vacations. My husband and I love to travel and hope to do more of that. My husband’s in the education system. We’re actively looking for schools we can volunteer in to help struggling students. And I’d like to rediscover some hobbies that I had to let go of due to time constraints. I’ll continue to follow the egg industry, like I have with the others. I’m anxious to see what happens to the industry and where it goes. Of course, I’ll be its biggest supporter, out there buying my 18 pack of eggs.
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