Farm manager - work experience or study?

News News & events

19 Sep 2017

When you know you want to be a dairy farm manager, what is the best path to get you there? What is most important – experience and on the job training, or investing the time and money required to undertake further study?

The answer is both, as it turns out.

Take Simon Kermode, who recently successfully made the move to farm manager. Simon found a tailor-made qualification at Ara Institute of Canterbury that allowed him to continue working full time and helped him to upskill in practical aspects of running a farm across the four key areas of finance, business, staffing and sustainability.

The qualification, the Diploma in Agribusiness Management, was developed to be as flexible as possible for farm workers. Study fits around the seasonal demands of the sector and students’ work commitments, through a blend of online lessons and face to face delivery.

“I studied part time,” Simon says. “It was difficult at times. There are times of the year that make it very hard, but Ara was very flexible, so that was good.

“I studied at Ara in Christchurch and Ashburton. It’s not the same for every student, it was my pathway. I live in the middle of the two places; I’m the same distance from Christchurch and Ashburton. There were set classes in both venues, and I could modify which way I went, depending which day I had available and what day they were doing the course. It was really good, very flexible.”

Assignments relate so directly to farm business that graduates come out with business plans tailored to the actual business.

“I just finished a business plan for a concept I had with my goal settings for the agribusiness I’m in, and it’s about sitting down and working out marketing plans and finance for projections.

“What we were doing in class directly reflected what we did on the farm. That was really good.”

The programme took Simon two and a half years to complete, but he is very happy he put the time and effort in. It has helped him to achieve his career goals – he was promoted before he even finished studying and now runs the day to day operations of the farm.

“The course was challenging, and it pushes you to a level you don’t realise, and once you achieve it you realise you can do it. So that is very rewarding.

“I wanted to become a dairy farm manager, so that was one of the reasons why I enrolled. It is a requirement for my role within dairy farming. It’s definitely an asset to have behind you.”

The Diploma in Agribusiness Management helps students to:

  • understand employment obligations and responsibilities;
  • develop strategies for good workplace relationships;
  • establish a human resources plan, including recruitment and termination procedures;
  • develop a budget and cash flow forecasts to share with your bank manager or accountant;
  • demonstrate knowledge and practice of GST and PAYE;
  • develop and monitor a financial plan for an agribusiness, including evaluating opportunities for future performance.
  • understand concepts of asset management, transfer and succession;
  • analyse current environmental management practices for an agribusiness and develop a plan to address shortcomings;
  • ensure your business is viable in the long term;
  • demonstrate knowledge of the physical resources of the business and long term sustainability of these;
  • prepare a nutrient budget for Land Management Units.

For more information see Study Options/Agriculture