Georgie and Dan

Job: Farm Managers     Area: Rakaia George

The Sheep and Beef Farmers

Georgie and Dan Harper are sheep and beef farmers in the Rakaia Gorge. After studying in Dunedin and then at Lincoln University, Georgie landed a job at ANZCO (meats) as a Lamb Marketing Manager, where she had the opportunity to travel internationally. Dan was raised on a sheep and beef farm in the Hawke’s Bay before studying at Lincoln. He’s also done his share of international travel when he drove tractors and harvesters overseas. He then worked on an intensive finishing farm before returning to Georgie’s family’s farm - Quartz Hill Station - which they now manage.

What is your typical day like?
Georgie and Dan: Busy. Every day is different here which makes the job so exciting and variable. We spend a lot of time at night and early morning trying to plan everyone and all the activities for the day, but things always pop up and plans change. We need to be flexible.

What do you love most about your job?
Georgie: I love working outside, being on the land and the variability of the job. The year works in seasons so you are never doing the same type of work for too long in the yearly cycle. I am consistently learning and challenging myself which I find really motivating.
Dan: I have a passion for growing grass and feeding stock, I spend a lot of my time looking at the strategy side of the business and the big picture. I feel I’m pretty good with people; I enjoy working with the shepherds, teaching them and watching them progress.

What skills do you need to do this job well?
The ability to learn and take advice from others, patience is another skill which is pretty handy to have! An open mind is really important, as there is never one way of doing things.
Dan: I learnt a lot from Lincoln however working on an intensive fattening and finishing farm really tested the theory of my diploma and gave me the opportunity to put into practice the skills I had learnt. These few years were valuable because I had a large amount of responsibility. I could grow crops and grass, fatten stock efficiently and effectively and ensure the business was making the returns it needed too.

Are there any qualifications that will help in a job like yours?
I completed a diploma in Farm Management at Lincoln University which helped me a lot regarding the technical aspect of the farm management. Qualifications help, but they are not vital in the agricultural industry. What’s important is the right attitude.
Dan: Any qualifications are good qualifications.  I had a lot of fun, made some great friends and learnt some valuable life lessons.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
Georgie: Being a female, the physical aspect is challenging, however there is always a way of getting the job done: machinery! I’m also busy learning the business aspect of the company, this is challenging and I’m pleased I have basic maths and accounting behind me.
Dan: There’s a lot to learn coming onto a big station like this. Knowledge of nearly every aspect of farming is needed, which can be overwhelming, however we are still new to the role so we’re learning bit by bit how the company works.

Is a farming background essential to do a job like yours?
Dan: Not at all, I have got heaps of friends who are doing really well within the industry who come from the big smoke. They are perfect examples of the fact that you don’t need to be from a rural background, especially in this day and age, times have changed.

What advice would you give young people wanting to do this?
Georgie: Talk to people in the industry, you'll soon find out that there are so many opportunities within the industry you've never heard about.
Dan: There are plenty of people out there who will help young people into the industry – I’ve had young people out with me through In2 the Field. This is a great way for young people to test drive a wide range of career paths.

Do you face any challenges together as a young couple farming?
Georgie & Dan: We get along really well and have different roles within the company, so this way we are not crossing paths of responsibility. However the biggest challenge is making sure we‘re working efficiently to ensure the business is a viable place to raise a family and ensure we can live comfortably with as little financial stress as possible.

Back to The Real World
"Talk to people in the industry, you'll soon find out that there are so many opportunities within the industry you've never heard about. There are plenty of people out there who will help young people into the industry."

How did I get here:

School - NCEA: Georgie: English, Stats, Bio, Geo, Physics. Dan: English, Ag, Geo, Maths, Accounting

University: Georgie: Bachelor of Arts in Education and Social Work & Post Graduate Diploma in Farm Management and Marketing. Dan: Diploma in Farm Management