Renae Bice: Life after the Horizon Scholarship Program

07.12.20

Even though AgriFutures Horizon Scholarship Alumni Renae Bice has always been drawn to the economic side of farming, she never imagined she’d step out of university and into a bank. Armed with a degree in Agricultural Business Management, a wealth of experience and a passion for agriculture, Renae shares how the Horizon Scholarship Program opened all the right doors for her career in agribusiness.

Renae Bice, AgriFutures Horizon Scholarship Alumni

 

Igniting the passion

I am from a fifth-generation dairy farming family from Bodalla, a small town situated on the Far South Coast of NSW.  My passion for the agriculture industry ignited at a young age, from hopping on the tractor with dad as a little girl, to feeding calves with my grandparents and with my  mum while she was doing the accounts for the family businesses.

I was fascinated with the economic side of the farm, making sure each of the cows on the farm were producing enough milk to cover the business costs as well of thinking of crazy ideas that could increase the farms productivity. It was my upbringing and passion for agriculture that lead me to study a Bachelor of Agricultural Business Management at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga.

The opportunity that changed everything

I was fortunate to be one of the 2017 Horizon Scholarship recipients, sponsored by Dairy Australia and could not speak more highly of the program.  I am still in regular contact with my industry sponsor and am thankful for the opportunities that became available due to the program. The horizon scholarship allows you develop skills and knowledge through amazing workshops held each year which challenges your perspective. It also acts as a forum where you can express your thoughts, ideas and opinions on the current and future scope topics in the agricultural industry. The program connects you with stakeholders, professionals, other scholars and most importantly, provides valuable first-hand experience through the work placement opportunities given as part of this scholarship.

While I was on the program, I attended industry conferences which enabled me to find a graduate position at ANZ, as well as connect with farmers and dairy industry professionals. I was able to gain a great perspective through industry placement post farm gate and had the opportunity to partake in a trip to Papua New Guinea to look at different types of agriculture.

This trip was amazing as I developed a greater understanding of agricultural practices in a developing country, saw sustainable palm oil practices, plus, I also saw how villagers make a living off subsistence level farming. Most remarkably, I saw three different types of agricultural industries integrated across the supply chain such as by products from sugar and oil used to power a whole village and oil palm kernels and molasses (by-products) fed to cattle.

The Horizon Scholarship provided me with a significant boost of confidence enhancing my passion further for the agricultural industry. The scholarship opened up further connections within my expanding network and enabled a smooth transition from university into a full-time work environment which I am extremely thankful for.

Life since graduation

Since graduating university, I was lucky enough to be a part of the 2020 ANZ Agribusiness Graduate program. The program involves three 6-month rotations to regional communities around Australia, to broaden our knowledge and gain exposure to different industries that we have not been around before.

To be honest, if you asked me when I left school or at the start of university where I would be at the end of my degree, I never would have thought I would be working in a bank. While I was attending the annual Australia Dairy Conference through the Horizon Scholarship Program, I was lucky to enough to meet like-minded people who introduced me to a fellow ANZ Agribusiness manager and graduate at the time who encouraged me to apply for the program. I saw huge benefit being able to broaden my agribusiness knowledge, service Agri customers as well as enhance my knowledge into different agriculture industries through the rotations.

Starting a career during a global pandemic

I am currently halfway through the ANZ Agribusiness Graduate program. In my first rotation I was placed in Gippsland VIC, which was predominantly dairy based and due to COVID-19 saw myself working back at home on the farm until I relocated to the Southern Highlands, where I am currently completing my second rotation.

If someone had told me at the beginning of the year that I would be working from home more than in the office, I would have told them they’re joking. Starting a career in a pandemic was an insightful experience but I am amazed at how technology has enabled everyone to adapt and continue to work, learn and be more resilient.

The work I complete changes day to day which is one thing I love about being a Graduate Agribusiness Assistant Manager. One day you could be out visiting clients (which is definitely a highlight of the job) and being able to see first-hand their businesses and how we can make a positive impact, to the next day, sitting in front of the computer preparing documents, assessing transactions with your manager, analysing financials and checking emails.

What’s on the horizon

I will soon find out where I will be relocated to for my third rotation, which brings nerves, however knowing I am supported by ANZ and have the ability to work with different industries and face the challenges ahead excites me.

I am extremely passionate about the Australian agriculture industry and feel so appreciative that I get to be a part of an industry that is so resilient and constantly adapting to the challenges it is faced with. I also cannot wait for the exciting opportunities in the future. Focusing on emerging industries and technologies that will enable agriculture in Australia to be more economically sustainable, efficient and lead to increase productivity. I am lucky to be in a position where I am able to connect with farmers to ensure they will continue to be economically viable.

Applications for the 2021 Horizon Scholarship program are currently open and will close on Friday, 15 January 2021. If you’re passionate about ag then I strongly encourage you to apply. For more information on this opportunity visit: www.agrifutures.com.au/horizons