Erin Sinclair

Job: Consulting Officer     Area: Timaru

Erin Sinclair

Job Title?
Consulting Officer (known as CO's)

Did any scholarships help you along the way?
DairyNZ undergrad scholarship, FMG undergrad scholarship, CRV Ambreed final year scholarship (included trip to HQ in Holland.

Brief introduction about yourself?
I grew up on a small farm in South Canterbury, but had no background in the dairy industry. When I left school I had no idea what I wanted to do and a job on the dairy farm down the road came up. I’d never even set foot on a dairy farm, but took the job and got hooked! I spent a year there and then went overseas for 6 months before starting at Lincoln, where I did an agricultural science degree with honours in farm management. After university I worked on farm again for a calving, headed overseas and then started with DairyNZ as a CO.

What does your job involve?
The core part of the job is running discussion groups for dairy farmers in my area, which is South Canterbury. I am part of the DairyNZ extension team, who are there to facilitate farmer to farmer learning as well as help communicate between farmers and the development and research teams.

What your typical day is like?
There is no typical day, but it can range from running a discussion group, attending other industry meetings and field days, meeting with farmers and time in the office preparing for groups.

What you love most about your job?
The people that I get to work with, who are really passionate about the dairy industry, and getting to know the farmers in my area. Seeing people progressing in the industry is exciting.

What skills do you need to do your job well?
To do the consulting officer job well, you need to have good people skills, be well organised, and be passionate about the industry. An understanding of farm systems is really important but DairyNZ provides great training for graduate COs on this.

Are there any qualifications you need in a job like yours?
Having an Agricultural degree (Bachelor of Agricultural Science, Bachelor of Agriculture or Bachelor of Commerce in Agriculture) is a huge advantage to the Consulting Officer job.

What is the most challenging aspect to your job?
Trying to fit everything that you want to do and all the opportunities that you are given into the time you have!

Is a farming background essential to do a job like yours?
A farming background helps, but I hadn’t been on a dairy farm until after I left school. The year spent working on farm really helped my understanding at university and for this job. If you don’t have a farming background, get out and get some experience working. The degrees at Lincoln are great because you have to do a certain amount of work on farm to get your degree.

What advice would you give to young people?
Get out with people who are working in the industry to really find out what it is about. Go with them for a day and ask them about what they do, and get out on farm in your holidays to build your knowledge.

What are your goals for the future?
To keep involved with the dairy industry and take opportunities as they come.

Back to The Real World

How did I get here:

School - NCEA: NCEA level three English, Statistics, Geography, Economics and Biology

University: Bachelor of Agricultural Science with first class honours in farm management