A surprise opportunity over the West
Just as I started settling into my final placement in Horsham, I was given an exciting opportunity that I had previously only dreamed about. The team in our Perth office were short staffed in a particularly busy period, so I was asked to do a three month secondment to give them some urgently required assistance. I agreed to the opportunity, and two weeks later I had again packed up my life and left Victoria on my way to Western Australia.
I have now worked in Perth for four weeks and I am absolutely loving it! The team has been so welcoming and I am enjoying the novelty of city living which is something I had never experienced before. I have been given an Agribusiness Relationship Assistant role, which is a step up from the graduate program. It involves a lot more responsibility and follow through on tasks than I had previously experienced. In this role I am assisting two Agribusiness Relationship Managers with data entry of loan applications and annual reviews, as well as keeping files moving through the different areas of the bank to get applications approved and settled.
I am very excited to get out on farm soon and see what farming in WA is all about. I have already been impressed with the scale of the farms over West compared to what I have been used to in the East.
This has been a great opportunity to start to transition into a role post the graduate program, so I am soaking up this experience and learning as much as I can before I move on from the graduate title.
Image: View from my aeroplane window flying over to WA.
My time in Mt Gambier has finished now, and I’ve moved into the final sales rotation of my graduate program in Horsham Victoria. This rotation will operate in the same way as my previous rotation. I will spend time shadowing all four Agribusiness Relationship Managers (ARMs) in the Horsham branch, getting an even deeper understanding of how other ARMs interact with clients and manage their workload with their Agribusiness Relationship Assistants. I am also continuing to assist with loan applications and reviews when I can, while trying to get out on farm as much as possible as well, which is my favourite part of the role.
This final rotation is also about learning some of the skills I still need to work on to best equip myself for taking on a role with the bank after I finish my graduate program in July. I would really like to get a role in the sales team, where I get to interact and help farmers achieve their production and farming system goals, so in this final rotation I will be focusing on trying to refine my skills in this area.
Next week the Wimmera Machinery Field Days are back on again in Horsham, so I will be attending this and assisting in the Rural Bank tent again. It will be great to be at the field days for the second year with the bank now, and to see some of the customers I am getting to know in the Wimmera and Mallee areas.
Starting to build my confidence
During my time with the sales team in Mount Gambier, I have been learning what is required of an Agribusiness Relationship Manager (ARM) at Rural Bank. I have realised the tasks and responsibilities are quite broad, and I was feeling a bit overwhelmed at the number of things I would need to learn if I were to become an ARM myself one day.
However, I have begun to have a few breakthrough moments in the recent few weeks, discovering that I have learnt quite a number of these tasks and responsibilities since starting with the bank, and my knowledge in some areas is quite good.
My most recent realisation was during a day that my manager was away in training and I was holding the fort back at the branch. On this day, I had my first solo client interview as well as preparing the documentation for the sign up of a new loan, which involved calling the client to set up a meeting time. I also informed another client that their settlement was happening the next day, and I booked in our next catch up so that I could teach them how to use our internet banking, all while fielding various different phone calls and emails that Rural Bank had that day.
As I was leaving the carpark from work, I thought, ”I’m getting there” with a big smile on my face, thinking back to how well I had managed some of the trickier tasks of the day and problem solved my way through to successful outcomes. It was a great feeling to be leaving work with such a positive mindset and feeling of happiness.
Of course, you never stop learning and I continue to find things that I don’t know. I am very fortunate however to have now built up a good network of contacts in the bank, who I can turn to for support when I need help or a question answered.
The next stage of my graduate program...
After finishing my mini rotations in the Bendigo office, I have moved interstate to Mount Gambier in SA where I am shadowing an Agribusiness Relationship Manager (ARM). The next six months will be the first of two sales rotations I will complete in the final year of my graduate program. During this new rotation I have helped complete loan applications, written credit submissions and attended farm visits. This is a great way to learn the role of an ARM in our business.
So far in the South East I have been intrigued by farming systems where there is limestone in the soil structure and a high water table, both of which are new to me. On one farm we visited, the water in the bore was only 3 feet below ground level, which is in stark contrast to my farm at home where a bore we drilled had to be 105 meters deep before we struck water.
In the last few weeks, I have attended the National Sheep and Wool show, Sheep Week and Sheepvention with Rural Bank. I love events like these because of my background in the sheep and wool industry, and because they get me out meeting farmers and getting mud on my boots.
Regional Manager rotation week
Over the past three months I have been very busy with my rotations out of the Bendigo office. These have included a stint with the Valuations, Ag Answers, Government programs and Credit teams, a week shadowing a Regional Manager, as well as working on an executive project for the business with the other graduates from this year’s intake. For the focus of this blog post, I would like to take you through my week on my Regional Manager (RMA) rotation which I had with Greg Kuchel.
This week was one of the busiest I have had working with Rural Bank and I loved every minute of it! I started off the week travelling to Adelaide via Swan Hill and Nhill to do a farm valuation for one of our clients. Then Tuesday and Wednesday I followed Greg to his meetings in the Adelaide office which included some major project meetings that the business is working on at the moment. This was one of the highlights of the week, as I got a thorough understanding of how the business is working through a major transition which not many people have exposure to.
Thursday was spent back in Swan Hill, where I got to attend another farm visit out to a dairy. I also got the opportunity to sit in on a credit workshop to discuss a client’s deal in depth with the credit team. Friday consisted of sitting in on some of Greg’s monthly one-on-one meetings with his sales staff to discuss how each sales member’s clients are going. Friday also saw Greg and I get back in the car again to drive to Mildura.
Also as part of the RMA week, I was given the option to follow Greg to the Pooncarie Field Days in NSW on the Saturday. This was an awesome experience where I got a second exposure to field days as part of the bank and got to meet Jane Bunn, a meteorologist with Channel 7 and partner with Rural Bank’s Ag Answers weather updates.
So that was my week on the road with Greg, which involved a total of 21 hours in the car driving and a great insight into the role of an RMA with Rural Bank.
Start of something BIG!
17 years of education has finally come to this moment. The moment I start my first full time job, post university. On February 6th I started with Rural Finance & Rural Bank in the Bendigo office, a fundamental beginning for my graduate program. I will be here for the first 5 months of the program, with a series of rotations taking me through each section of the bank to gain an understanding of how the rural business operates.
My first rotation was with the Treasury team, which was a little daunting at the beginning, although I came to have a good understanding of how the bank sources funds & sets interest rates, as well as, a series of other functions of the Treasury team. During this rotation I was given the opportunity to become a treasury staff member, of which I really enjoyed having a position of trust, as well as, a series of tasks to do that were of value to the business.
I’m currently in the Horsham office and will be for this entire week, completing a rotation with a Senior Agribusiness Relationships Manager. I’m lucky enough to be here while the Wimmera Machinery Field Days are on, so I’ve been able to attend the Rural Finance & Rural Bank tent and talk with customers for a couple of days, which has been a really exciting experience.
A little about me…
I’m the 6th generation in a family mixed farming operation near Bendigo, where we run sheep and also do some cropping. I did my Bachelor of Agricultural Science degree with Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga NSW, where I developed an interest in agribusiness management which lead me to apply for the graduate program with Rural Finance & Rural Bank.
Over the next 18 months I hope to keep a record of my achievements and movements throughout the graduate program and rural business through this blog.