Blue River Dairy

Better workplaces and wellness advocate receives national recognition

Award-winning business, Blue River Dairy People and Capability Manager, Abbigail Surridge has been announced as a finalist as Emerging HR Practitioner at the NZ HR Awards 2022.

The NZ HR Awards, organised by HRNZ, recognises excellence and outstanding achievement within New Zealand’s HR community.

Abbigail joined Blue River Dairy three years ago as an Executive Assistant and developed her skillset, moving into her current position of People and Capability Manager.

During this time, the company has experienced significant growth and Abbigail has been instrumental in developing a strong workplace culture.

A key driver in this was the creation and implementation of Blue River Dairy’s ‘Healthy Me’ wellbeing programme.

The programme, tackling subjects on stress, sleep and mental resilience, won the Workplace Wellbeing Award 2019 presented at the Southland Business Excellence Awards.

Abbigail is passionate about empowering those around her, seeing her colleagues succeed and offering equal opportunities to everyone.

Blue River Dairy achieved Visa Accreditation through Immigration NZ in 2021. Abbigail assisted in attaining this by updating the company’s immigration policies, ensuring and creating a robust verification process and lodging the application.

“I strive to lead my team as the best leader I can be and I empower others to work at their best, coaching them to believe in themselves and celebrate them in their success,” Surridge said.

Abbigail’s journey into HR has not been a typical career pathway. She left school at age 15 to start her first full-time job at a furniture factory, sanding and staining wood.

“I hated the first three months of long days, being overworked and underpaid. However, this job created a lasting foundation of what hard work and reward looks like, and how important it is to surround yourself with supportive people who empower you,” Surridge said.

This lasting impression encouraged her to challenge herself and those around her to be the change they wanted to see within their workplace.

Working at Blue River Dairy gave Abbigail the confidence to pursue her passion working in HR, she recently joined the Southland HRNZ committee after gaining her Chartered Membership with HRNZ in 2021.

“Achieving this was a huge step in my journey of recognition and gave me the confidence to apply for the NZ HR Awards,” Surridge said.

Blue River Dairy General Manager, Robert Boekhout, said Abbigail had demonstrated enormous growth and development in a very short space of time.

“She is committed, professional and a well-respected peer, not just within the business, but the wider business community. I am both proud of her and fortunate that she is part of our business and its successes,” Boekhout said.

Abbigail will be attending the NZ HR Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, 17 May in Auckland.

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