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Graduate blogs

Our current graduates embark on a structured learning program that exposes them to different facets of our business. From business unit rotations to one-on-one mentoring with agribusiness specialists, the graduate program aims to provide real work experience to talented graduates who want to join us in supporting and enabling farmers to build vibrant businesses across Australia.

Meet our graduates and read about their experiences as part of the Ag Achievers graduate program:

Current Graduates

Past Graduates

Current Graduates

Adrian Hoffman

Things are heating up…
October 2019 | By Adrian Hoffman

As the weather starts getting warmer again, and I realise I’m already 9 months into the graduate program, it’s a good time to reflect on everything I’ve been a part of since I started here at Rural Bank.

My first rotation in Risk gave me an opportunity to get involved in the Banking Code of Practice project. I worked with key stakeholders both internal and external to the bank to understand the requirements of the new Code, determine the changes needed within the bank, and implement these changes to ensure we are not just meeting the Code, but doing what’s right for our customers.

I knew I was looking for a graduate program, as this provides a great opportunity to get started in your career. After a lot of searching, I discovered the Ag Achievers program at Rural Bank. Initially, I just assumed I’d clicked the wrong field in my job search: why would a bank want an engineering graduate? However, a quick check showed the program took graduates from a huge range of fields, engineering included – so I read on.

Call it good timing, but I then had the opportunity to jump straight into another major project for the bank: the return of the Rural Bank authorised deposit-taking institution licence (ADI), more commonly referred to as our banking licence. Rural Bank was already fully owned by the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Group, however the return of our ADI on 31 May meant we became a division, operating under the Group ADI. This required a massive effort to ensure all our documentation, ranging from marketing material to security deeds, reflected the change. Amelia, my fellow Adelaide based graduate and I, completed a full audit to determine the documents that would need changing, sizing out the scale of the task, before consulting with the affected business units to determine the resourcing required, and playing a fundamental role in delivering the required changes in time.

After the project heavy start, I wanted to get back to the fundamentals of lending, so secured my next rotation in the Credit department. Working closely with some of our incredibly experienced and knowledgeable lending managers, I’ve learned the ins and outs of assessing an application for credit, gaining exposure to how we help farmers keep doing what they love, even when times get tough.

Now, back to the present, and the projects, with my new rotation in the Business Redesign Team. While it’s still early days, I’ve already had the chance to play in a role in some exciting initiatives as we strive to continuously improve our business.

It’s been a great first half of the program, and I’m excited to see what the next 9 months will bring.

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Starting Out
March 2019 | By Adrian Hoffman

It’s been a very quick six weeks, but (I think) I’ve found my feet here at Rural Bank. How I got here, though, is a different story.

Growing up in the Riverland of South Australia, I’ve been surrounded by agriculture most of my life. When a career as an engineer didn’t appeal to me after completing my mechanical engineering degree, I decided to see what my other options were.

I knew I was looking for a graduate program, as this provides a great opportunity to get started in your career. After a lot of searching, I discovered the Ag Achievers program at Rural Bank. Initially, I just assumed I’d clicked the wrong field in my job search: why would a bank want an engineering graduate? However, a quick check showed the program took graduates from a huge range of fields, engineering included – so I read on.

The focus on agriculture really resonated with me, and the more I researched the more great things I found. Between the flexibility to tailor the program to suit my needs, the opportunity to work across so many areas of the business, and the community involvement activities run by the Bank, I figured, why not give it a shot?

While you always focus on giving the best first impression to a potential employer, it’s so important to consider the first impressions they give to you. The people at Rural Bank are what really make it stand out, and from the first email I received after I applied for the program, to an assessment centre that felt completely relaxed (trust me, that didn’t happen anywhere else) I was immediately struck by how friendly everyone was. After six weeks I can safely say that’s just what it’s like here.

If you’re reading this and thinking about the graduate program, no matter what your background is, just apply. You really do have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.

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Amber Foster

The adventure continues
October 2019 | By Amber Foster

Since my last blog update I had couple of weeks necessary crash course in Farm Management deposits, and emotional support after the GoT finale from the team Midland office.

Then it was time for my trip to Bendigo for my Induction and some needed time in head office getting some exposure to Marketing, Credit, Accounts, The Insights team and much more.

Next was an awesome 3 months acting as a stand in ARA in the Bunbury office. A great opportunity to challenge myself and do some on the job training to learn the Sales process firsthand. The trade-off for some of the desk work was regular tag alongs to farm visits. Face time with clients and seeing Relationship Management firsthand added real value to my learning and filled in some big blanks I still had about our business. Thanks Mick and Jeff for all the invaluable learning! I’ve attended many morning teas since starting work with Rural Bank, thanks to everyone in the Elder’s Branch for throwing a leaving one in my honour.

Onto my next big challenge and I’m off to Tasmania for a 6 month rotation with the team in Kings Meadows. With a whole new climate, commodity market, and colleagues to learn about, I’m excited for the chance to step outside my comfort zone on the other side of the country. Time to chuck my stuff on a moving truck and let the adventure begin!

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Amelia Johnson

Time flies...
March 2019 | By Amelia Johnson

Six weeks seems to have flown by so fast, but that’s how long it’s been since our first week induction with the bank. From that point on I’ve felt so welcomed by the business that it’s hard to believe I have only been a part of it for such a short time!

I came to Rural Bank from an agricultural background in South Australia. After leaving school, I worked for Elders and other companies in various roles before deciding that university would be a good way of broadening the opportunities available to me. So, as a mature aged student, I made my way to the University of Adelaide’s Roseworthy Campus and graduated in 2017 with a degree in Animal Science.

On completion of my degree I found myself at a bit of a cross roads, I knew a lot of the things I liked or didn’t like in a job, but I still had no career path. Luckily, I stumbled across the advertisement for the Rural Bank program a couple of days before it closed.

I already knew of Rural Bank from my time at Elders, but a bit more research showed me that the business aligned with so many of my personal values. Not only by being Australia’s only Australian owned and operated agribusiness bank, but by advocating for more women in ag, supporting local communities and assisting in such a fundamental way to drive the future of Australian agriculture.

The recruitment process only reinforced the idea that Rural Bank was somewhere I wanted to be. I’ve had a few interviews in my time and I can safely say that the interview and assessment centre with Rural Bank has been the nicest I’ve experienced. If I hadn’t already been convinced this role was for me, that would have sold me.

My first rotation has seen me in the credit department, which has given me a good introduction to the foundation of our business. As I write this, I am sitting in an Elders branch where some of our sales force operate. I’ve just spent a week here seeing how the information I’ve been reviewing in credit is collated and how our people operate in the field. This has demonstrated just how important our relationships to our clients are.

I’m very excited about the next 18 months, and the opportunity to test out so many areas within the business. There are so many more directions to explore than I realised, and I can’t wait to see where the program will take me.

Elders Branch

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Dean Pickett

Wednesday Pricing
October 2019 | By Dean Pickett

Since my last post I’ve moved from Brisbane to Melbourne to commence a rotation in the Profarmer team, as a pricing analyst. Moving down in August from Brisbane’s humid subtropical climate to Melbourne’s temperate oceanic climate, has taken some getting used to. Besides the subtle change in weather, I now also know my barista’s name and catch a tram into work each day!

Following the usual morning rituals, I get into work at about 830 to start my workday. Wednesday is typically my busiest day in the pricing analyst role. The role largely involves capturing bid data from grain traders around the country.

The purpose of capturing bids so that we can inform the market of the best daily grain prices, in real-time, via our price discovery tool. Then, at certain intervals during the day, I send out our daily SMS and email to subscribers on the East and West coast. The point of it all is to allow growers and traders to take advantage of such information so that they can buy or sell their grain at the best price.

The first daily task is preparing the daily SMS and PDF spreadsheets. These spreadsheets will allow me to discover the day-on-day market movements. Following this I’ll capture prices in real-time as I receive them via email. These tasks run all day, every day, but are generally more intensive during harvest.

My next task is preparing our End-User Report for the Pork industry. The End-User Report is a brief overview about what the national and international grain markets are doing. Pork producers use this information to plan out their feedstock supply for the coming months. Right now, it looks like most grain will be coming out of VIC and WA, as NSW and QLD won’t be producing much this year due to drought.

In between these tasks I’ll be proof reading articles that describe the current state of affairs (weather and grain pricing) in each state. These articles inform our weekly newsletter which we send out each Wednesday. They are written locally by people on the ground who have intimate knowledge of how the crops are going through the growth cycle; they also help inform my writing of the End-User Report. This year has been pretty dire for most states as many seasonal risks have unfortunately come to fruition and impacted crops.

My last task for the day is running some numbers for the weekly HSBC report. To do this I need to use SQL to pull some of the pricing numbers I’ve input over the past week. It’s a straightforward task but it takes a bit of time to get things right.

That’s the day done and dusted. By this time it’s usually around 17:30pm before I have everything in or sent off, so it’s definitely time to hit the road!

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A new routine
March 2019 | By Dean Pickett

I joined the 2018 graduate cohort after studying a Bachelor of Law (Hons) at the Queensland University of Technology. Having grown up farming and working in the agricultural industry for most of my life, I wanted to continue to pursue a career within the industry I’m passionate about. As the only 100 per cent Australian owned dedicated agri-business bank, Rural Bank was a logical choice where I could leverage my practical experience and university education to assist Australian farmers and our regional communities.

The best part about being an Ag Achievers graduate is the diversity I get to experience in my day-to-day role. Rural Bank supports everything from hobby farmers up to family corporates, meaning everything I do is always different – from gearing up a client with some new equipment for harvest or to improve farm efficiencies, to supporting business expansion with the purchase of a new property – the work is always different.

One of the highlights so far has been attending the ‘Go to Market’ meeting held down in the Riverina region. At the meeting I met most of the Sales team from New South Wales and Queensland and learned about the sales strategy for the upcoming year. We also managed to fit in a couple of farm visits, which included visiting cotton, wine grapes, pistachio, and peach enterprises. This was a good opportunity to understand the job of the front-line staff and gain an insight into our customers and the various commodities they produce.

Back in the office I’ve spent the bulk of my time working alongside credit managers and one of our internal valuers. Coming from a non-numbers background, wrapping my head around financial statements and cashflows during the process of assessing credit applications has been a good challenge. I’ve also really enjoyed learning about valuation theory and the broader agricultural economic concepts that make up a sound valuation, which effectively influences the cost of capital to the bank.

I think the goal of the Ag Achievers program is to find out where you (or I in this case) fit best in the bank. Not only is this best for the bank, it’s best for our clients – which is what makes this job feel like much more than just a job in banking and finance.

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