How does a Bachelor of Business Administration graduate fall easily into a great career in agriculture? New grad Craig Piacek, says “When I was thinking about how to combine my educational background with agriculture, it turned out to be far easier than I anticipated.”
With the expansion and growth of agriculture being so strong, vast amounts of career opportunities are available that are inclusive of just about any background (especially for students and new grads)!
Craig spoke with us to tell us all about how his education is a huge factor to his success thus far, how the industry is more than farming, and what we can expect from agriculture in the future!
Get cracking and read our full interview below:
How did you initially find your place in Agriculture?
Simply put, I was born into it. Living and growing up in a rural agricultural setting one becomes exposed to a variety of Agriculture based jobs at a young age. I started helping my father on my family’s farm and from there, various jobs in agriculture found me through word of mouth. Now, since I spent the majority of my childhood and teenage years working in the industry, I find it easier to apply for jobs in agriculture, since that is where the majority of my experience lies.
How did your time as a BBA student guide your career path into Agriculture?
To be honest, it was more vice versa. I knew that regardless what I ended up doing, there would most likely be a business aspect to it. Unfortunately after entering the program I found it hard to keep my attention towards business, but because of the merit a BBA degree has in agriculture (and everything else), I stuck it out. I knew at the end of the road, at the very least it would make me a smarter, more efficient farmer. General management skills, human resources, financial budgeting, accounting etc. are needed in agribusiness, and the more of them you can efficiently do in-house, the better your agricultural business will run.
What role are you currently working in?
In my most recent role, I was working as a junior accountant, specializing in agribusiness and farm tax and accounting services. Where I work provides thorough business services to our clients, but specifically to farmers we provide specialized tax advice and planning and help them manage the various programs available to farmers/agribusinesses.
What skills did you develop from working on your family’s farm and how have these skills helped you succeed in your time as a student and professional?
For myself, my parents used the farm to teach me the value of work and money at a young age. I helped my father work and harvest the land, and that taught me the necessity of work and how my family provided for itself. This also gave me my own money at a young age, and taught me how to save. Saving my money from age 10 or 11 greatly helped me as a student dealing with the financially crippling education costs, and the hardworking entrepreneur’s spirit that my father possessed and passed down to me never left me as a professional. The mindset that if you work hard and smart, you can be your own boss and adequately provide for yourself and your family is something I can only hope to use every day.
You said that roles such as management, human resources, finance, accounting are important to agribusiness; how else had the industry expanded to be inclusive of several different fields (i.e., engineering, skilled trades, business, sales)?
Most jobs I can think of have some form of an agricultural based counterpart, and new jobs are created every year as our knowledge and understanding of agricultural processes deepens. The industry has expanded to include almost all fields. Skilled trades are needed to repair the machinery and install equipment, business is used maintain all of the business aspects of agribusiness, sales is used for commodities, machinery, seeds, investments, etc. The industry is constantly expanding and incorporating new fields.
How has agriculture already changed since first working in the industry?
For me it’s changed quite a bit because as I grew older the industry changed and my awareness of certain aspects of it increased.
When I was 10 working in a field for my father I never considered the business efficiency or environmental sustainability side of farming. The change that is affecting me and others like myself the most is a change in available techniques and information that differ from the traditional farming styles of our parents and predecessors. With the average age of farmers being in their 50s, (at least in my area, Chatham-Kent) it is likely that a new generation of farmers will adopt different styles. With so many choices on what to grow, and how to grow it, it looks likely that there will be a wider variety of farming practices, but I think that is the way of most industries in present day. As the older generations pass control to their successors, work styles will change to accommodate and adapt to new needs, and in this case, farming is no different from anything else.
You’re currently in a transition period between careers; where do you see your career going in agriculture in the future?
Like any other red-blooded Canadian, I have had several aspirations in life, but I’ve always thought that regardless of the career choices I make, I will end up a farmer. I still plan on pursuing a professional career in accounting, that I believe will have aspects of agribusiness ingrained into it, but I know that farming can be a part time career, coupled with a full-time occupation. I hope that I can bring my family’s farm towards environmental sustainability and I dream of the day that our farm will be able to grow and power itself on its own, free from external inputs. It’s a fair amount of work, but I believe a degree in business and an accounting designation will help me navigate the business side of things and allow for the farming side to flow more efficiently.
If you had on piece of advice for students (from all educational backgrounds) thinking of starting their career in agriculture, what would it be?
When I was thinking about how to combine my educational background with agriculture, it turned out to be far easier than I anticipated. The industry as a whole is way too vast to give general advice to all students, but if you have an education, chances are you can combine it with agriculture — and if you can’t yet, perhaps that means there is a job in need of creating.