Bert Oliver

Job: Stock Manager     Area: Mid Canterbury

The Farmer

Bert always knew he wanted to be a farmer. He grew up on a pig farm in Oamaru, and spent seven years getting other farming experience before landing his present job as manager of Inverary Station in South Canterbury.

What is your typical day like?
My morning is taken up by stock movement, transferring cattle or sheep from paddocks or hill blocks. In the afternoon we do maintenance: fencing or development work - weather permitting.

What do you love most about your job?
Working outdoors with the dogs and stock, and of course the other staff. I deal a lot with contractors and livestock drafters as well as regular farm staff.

What skills do you need to do the job well?
Communication is most important; you deal with lots of different people.

Are there any qualifications that will help in a job like yours?
Yes! I did a Diploma in Agribusiness Management by correspondence over three years. I could've gone to Uni, but chose to continue earning a wage. It was a good move, but if I had my time over again, I might consider Uni, since it opens more doors than just farming and it definitely speeds promotion to management.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
The climate and the topography. You can only work within the weather boundaries. The steepness of the contour determines what grass you can grow and how you can develop the farm.

Is a farming background is essential to do a job like yours?
If you have an interest in agriculture, you don't need a farming background (although it helps). I'm involved in a different type of farming from what my parents did.

What advice would you give young people wanting to do this?
Study hard at secondary school and keep university in mind. Take a year off and do a farming job to check your interest. Then, after a tertiary education, shop for an employer that's going to suit you: one you can learn from - one who will give their wisdom out.

Back to The Real World
"I enjoy working with the dogs and the stock, and of course being with the other staff."

How did I get here:

School - NCEA: Agriculture, Science, Maths

University: Diploma in Agribusiness Management