Patrick Lash was a successful city financier until a short course in agriculture ignited a dream. Here’s how Agricultural Appointments helped turn that dream into a totally new career path.
“I grew up in Sydney on the lower north shore at Cammeray, which is pretty green and about as suburban as it gets,” Patrick Lash, branch manager for Delta Agribusiness, says as he drives past plains of rich black soil around Narrabri in north-western New South Wales. After leaving high school he studied finance and accounting at university and entered the business world with Colonial First State, working with managed investment funds in Superannuation. So how does a city boy end up working for an agribusiness firm in the bush?
“I was getting bored with straight finance and wanted something with a more tangible and physical component,” Patrick says and so, on the recommendation of a friend, he enrolled in a certificate course in agriculture with Marcus Oldham College in Geelong. He continued with the study, thinking he would stop when he found a subject he didn’t like. That didn’t happen and the course grew into a Masters in Agribusiness. “I enjoyed the course but more importantly all the people I reached out to in that first year were amazing to work with,” Patrick says. “Everyone who I spoke to from the country was vastly more receptive to giving me their time than anything I had experienced previously. They were interested in people who were interested.”
Graduating in October 2017 Patrick embarked on a journey to learn all he could about this industry, which had captured his imagination. Enter Kristie Kent from Agricultural Appointments. “Kristie asked me if I would be happy looking [for work] closer to the coal face, rather than being an analyst or something, and I thought I’d really like to get out of Sydney and give it a crack, and get as close to the farm gate as possible.”
In May 2018 Kristie steered Patrick to the job of branch manager for Delta Agribusiness. It is a role that sees him in charge of two stores (in Narrabri and Burren Junction) and sees him inside that farm gate as he talks to farming clients. “My previous role in finance was completely relationship based,” Patrick says of the strengths he can bring to agriculture. “I was always focused on customer service and mutually profitable relationships and my clients here are like ‘Yep. You know what? That makes sense. You’re a people person. You want to go out and talk to us.’ And I do. I would spend the entire time on the road with clients if I could.”
Patrick is a success story for Agricultural Appointments and the industry as a whole, showing agriculture can attract the best and brightest minds. And Patrick has this advice for other city-based people wishing to make the change: “You can’t possibly spend too much time on research. There are very big differences between regional centres that will significantly impact you. Find what your minimum level of services are and then get in a car and get out there.”
For over 35 years Agricultural Appointments has helped agribusinesses of all types meet the hardest challenge: recruiting the right people. From farm managers to food technologists, winemakers to research scientists and product developers to CEOs, they recruit for roles right across the food supply chain.
“From paddock to plate, we know people: how to find them and make sure they’re right for your role and culture.” Dr. Ray Johnson, Agricultural Appointments
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