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Michael Curtis

Michael Curtis

Interview with past graduate Greg Kuchel.
24 May 2016 | By Michael Curtis

1. When did you start as a graduate?
I started in 1998 – coming up to 19 years now. Back then, we didn’t have email, my work mobile phone was a handset attached to the car and there was no Microsoft Office. My graduate program was not as sophisticated as what is offered now, but invaluable nonetheless.

2. What did you enjoy most about your time as a graduate?
I had the opportunity to be mentored by some very experienced “legends” of the organisation. The best skills they taught me were how to relate to clients, to get the information you need without sounding like an interrogator and learning that having good relationships with people is paramount. As a graduate, it is the only time in your working career where you are paid to learn, everyone wants to teach you and the only expectation on you is to absorb as much knowledge as you can and ask lots of questions.

3. What roles have you held since and describe your current role?
I spent nine years in Agribusiness Relationship Manager roles in Warrnambool, Swan Hill and Mildura. I then returned to Warrnambool and spent six years as a Regional Manager. My current role is Regional Manager Agribusiness, looking after North West Victoria, which I have been doing for four years. The job I have now is the best one I have had. I am still very close to the front line to get a great feel for what is happening in agricultural industries and what our clients are experiencing. I also have the opportunity to really impact on the development of our people (which I enjoy the most) and get great exposure to the internal workings of the business – this provides opportunities to influence the organisation for the benefit of our clients, our sales staff and the organisation.

4. How did your time as a graduate help you progress to where you are now?
It gave me a great grounding and understanding of the business and helped me build relationships with others within the organisation that I wouldn’t normally come across.

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Assessment centre and interview
22 April 2016 | By Michael Curtis

With the recruitment process for the 2017 graduate program underway, I want to share some of my advice and experiences from the assessment centre and individual interview.

The assessment centre involved an individual writing task and a group activity. In the group task the candidates received a brief and had to discuss the issue as a group before doing a short presentation to a panel of assessors who had been in the room watching the whole discussion. The aim is to demonstrate how you work in a team. There are a few ways to approach it but I felt it was important to be a contributor but not try and dominate the group.

Having got through the assessment centre, I found the individual interview to be a bit more relaxed and comfortable. It’s easy to get nervous for interviews but my approach is to try and be relaxed and think about the things that I can control. I walk in prepared to be myself, share who I am, what I’m passionate about and why that all aligns with the role I am applying for. While you can never guarantee what you will be asked, there are some common questions that you can prepare for. I also prepare answers for questions I don’t want to be asked and have some of my own questions to ask the panel.

All the way through the recruitment process it’s important to be yourself, be prepared and demonstrate your passions. That way you’ll give yourself the best chance at succeeding.

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Much to learn in Adelaide
8 April 2016 | By Michael Curtis

Last Wednesday I flew over to Adelaide for a meeting with one of the Agribusiness Relationship Managers for local verification of the content within a national Ag Answers insights report I am working on. I had spent a couple of months working through the data analysis, and compiling a draft of the South Australian chapter of the report.

This meeting was a chance to share that content with a local expert, to validate the findings and seek some commentary to help explain certain trends. It was great to sit down face-to-face and receive feedback on my work. It was also valuable to learn more about different farming regions and enterprises in South Australia and get an insight into how another relationship manager is working with his customers.

It was an enjoyable and worthwhile trip.

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Learning and development
By Michael Curtis

I grew up in Melbourne and despite being a city boy, developed a passion for agriculture. I studied a Bachelor of Agriculture at the University of Melbourne and spent my third year at the Dookie Campus.

The Ag Achievers Graduate Program appealed to me as the structure of rotations would allow me to sample different areas of the business and spend time in multiple regions. The community focus of the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Group made it an appealing organisation to work for.

The first six months of the graduate program was spent within Rural Finance’s Bendigo office. During this time, I rotated through different teams including Valuations, Loans Administration and Credit gaining a great understanding of the lending application process. A key highlight of this rotation was undertaking an project for the Bank’s Executive team, which gave us the chance to contribute something meaningful to the organisation and present to senior leaders and executives. In the second half of 2015, I was based in Shepparton working alongside the team of Agribusiness Relationship Managers. I enjoyed the chance to go out on client visits, learn more about different farming systems in the region and work through loan applications. For my final rotation I have taken a slightly different path and joined the Ag Answers team, which provides industry insights and analysis to customers, industry and staff.

The Ag Achievers Graduate Program has been designed to facilitate learning and development with great access to people in all areas of the organisation. The rotations in head office and out in the field have given me great exposure to the many roles that exist in the organisation.

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