Written by: Colin Rose | Business Manager | 0413 343 888
Planfarm have made a concerted effort to provide opportunities for those young people interested in the service delivery with Agriculture.
There are a number of ways we support young people in Ag coming through the ranks including the following examples;
• Secondary School based work placements
• University based work placements
• Undergraduate program
• Graduate opportunities
Secondary school-based work placements typically involve a secondary school student interested in the ag Industry to complete two fortnightly blocks throughout the year as part of their workplace exposure. We aim to expose them to Farm Business Management consulting, Grain Marketing and Agronomy as part of the services we provide clients. This opportunity quite often confirms their interest or not in pursuing a career in the ag industry. We have had students in the regions participate in it (based in one of our regional offices) as well as Perth based students become involved.
University based work placements are usually a lot more intense regarding both time and commitment. This can be a one or two-month commitment. Often the students provide extensive reports of their learnings throughout the placement, and we tend to give them something quite meaty to get their teeth into during this timeline. They are often students in a related University course to the ag industry. Again, a great opportunity to see what a service based company like Planfarm has to offer prospective graduates in the ag industry.
Undergraduate program is open to students coming through an ag related degree to work through our summer period of farm budgets, with some of the students staying on throughout the year to assist in other duties / roles. We had 6 undergraduates working with Planfarm throughout the summer period this year (Nov to March). The primary focus on this program is to assist our consulting team in their data processing for the end of season budgets and expose the undergrads to an in depth understanding of farming practices throughout WA. See further in this article who they were and a little bit about them. They have provided
some commentary on how the experience was for them. We have staggered the experience of these undergrads, having first, second- and third-year students so we don’t lose them all in the one year once they graduate. We have had some of these undergrad positions work with us for up to 4 or 5 years. Some of them have continued throughout the year in an ongoing role whilst still attending University, and some
ultimately are now or have been employed by Planfarm in full time graduate roles.
Graduate opportunities arise out of the above options we have had many of the ag related students come through our programs. We have several graduates who are still working with us after cutting their teeth in the undergraduate program. We have found it very satisfying nurturing numerous graduates through our support programs prior to employing them full time in graduate positions. We realise some of these graduates will also utilise this opportunity as a steppingstone to getting to where they may ultimately want to go, and we value their input whilst we have them on board.
I have taken the liberty to ask for some feedback from some of the current crop of undergraduates who have just completed the current 2023 summer program, following is their direct feedback on the undergrad program;
Thea Walker based in our Manjimup office and has just completed an ag degree at Curtin University, has spent the summer with us working from the Manjimup office, and will continue working with us throughout this year.
Re the undergraduate program: The key things I have got out of it are; I have gained a greater understanding of how cash flows through a farm business and where money is drawn from to generate cash and budget models and reports.
I have also developed a greater understanding about the role of consultants and how their programs can work with farmers to improve the efficiency of their farm management decisions and outcomes. The program has helped me develop my understanding of how a farm business operates financially, well beyond what I was taught at university. This will be useful if I want to run my own farm in the future. I have also been offered work with Planfarm beyond this undergrad program to further expand my knowledge and skills in different areas of Planfarm’s consulting and benchmarking departments.
The key things I have learnt include:
- I have become more adept in my excel programming skills and my ability to talk to farmers.
- I have learnt how Planfarm’s programs and models come together to create financial reports, budgets and benchmarking data.
- I have also learnt the importance of budgeting, organisation, and planning how and where you use your money.
Even if consulting or banking isn’t your interest it is a good way to get an understanding of how cash flows through a farm business and learn how certain management choices can affect the efficiency and net profit of the business.
I don’t come from a broadacre farming background and it is not really my interest either, however, it was interesting to learn how these large-scale farms operate and where their income and expenses derive from.
Zara Leusciatti based in our Osborne Park office.
The things I have got out of it include;
- An appreciation for the time, patience and love all the consultants have for each of their clients.
- An invaluable opportunity to form solid networks in the agricultural industry.
- Hard skills (using Agrimaster, BART and data collation) and soft skills (liaison, time management and understanding every client is different).
Universities push the need to network and while mini career expos are brilliant for a quick introduction, Planfarm’s amazing team made it so easy to build and maintain strong network connections. This program has allowed me to see some of the services they offered which has saved me valuable time in identifying my own career path.
I was hired as a summer-casual to help the consultants collate data from a variety of sources for client budgets. Planfarm taught me how to use their inhouse analytics tool, import reports from CBH, liaise with farmers for more detailed information and introduced me to financial software such as Agrimaster and Xero. In this experience, I have learnt so many skills that go beyond my degree and into the agricultural industry, for which I will be forever grateful.
I would 100% recommend to agricultural and business undergrads as working with Planfarm offers insight into so many areas in agribusiness. You may start in budgeting, but see how finances, business planning, consultations, carbon farming, grain marketing and other aspects of farming all come together.
Based on my personal experience of living on a small farm, it was a fantastic and eye-opening experience to see how efficient large-scale farming enterprises are and how a corporate side of a farming business works.
Alison Burges based in our Northam and Osborne Park offices.
I have been at Planfarm since 2021, reviewing financial production data and internal benchmarks. These experiences have given me an understanding of the production and financial variability across different regions of Western Australia.
I have also been involved with TerraWise, working on the DPIRD Carbon Voucher project, and gaining experience in tailoring innovative solutions to address environmental challenges for various broad-acre enterprises.
Having grown up on a broadacre farm, I have always been passionate about working in the agricultural industry. I will be graduating from the University of Western Australia in November 2023 with a Bachelor of Science majoring in Agribusiness and Psychological & Behavioural Sciences.
My degree has provided me with an understanding of diverse agricultural systems and combined with my work at Planfarm has equipped me well for my career.
One of the highlights of my time with Planfarm, has been going on the PD trip to Geraldton. It was an excellent opportunity to visit farms and see the impact that Planfarm has on their clients’ businesses. Being able to gain practical experience and see the results firsthand is invaluable to me. I am excited to continue to learn and grow my skills through the Planfarm Undergraduate Program.
Holly Williams was based in our Osborne Park office. During the Undergraduate program I gained invaluable skills in excel and budgeting as well as learning a whole new program, Agrimaster.
I particular with the type of work provided I developed problem solving skills in a work environment and I gained experience in an office environment. Specifically, this gave me a great opportunity to be able to learn to communicate with co-workers and clients effectively.
Upon reflection of the 3 months, I would recommend this program to any undergraduate studying Agriculture as the work environment was perfect to facilitate learning and growth in the industry. As well as gain an understanding of how cash moves through these businesses.
Thanks for the great input from the Undergrads for their feedback on their time with Planfarm.
So why are we sharing this with you, our client base or others in the Ag Industry?
Firstly, to let you know of opportunities for the youth we provide in the Ag Industry, and secondly If you have a family member or know someone that this would fit and could benefit from this type of work experience exposure, get them to contact Planfarm and see if we can help them with any opportunities forthcoming. Rachael has recently taken on the management of the Undergraduate program and is doing a fantastic job, best to contact Rachael Ferguson on 988 11422 to discuss opportunities or register your interest.