This week in the clinic we are looking at the evolution of a career in agriculture, from our wonderful consultant Jane Righton. We wanted to share Jane’s reflections on her inspiring career to date, to share with our candidates just some of the potential opportunities available when considering different routes across the industry!
Jane, how did your career in Agriculture get started?
Having grown up on a farm, I knew I wanted to stay close to agriculture. Just before I had started college, I had spent my childhood savings on pedigree Texel sheep which were an addition to my commercial flock of ewes that I had brought a year earlier. The following summer, I got the top price for my lambs at market and had the same success the following year with lambs from my new ewes which were Llyn x Texel. However whilst enjoying the practical side of farming, I knew I wanted to pursue a career that would involve adding value and useful solutions to farming and agricultural businesses.
How did you come into Agricultural Sales?
After completing a short-term contract selling veterinary and animal safety products, I informed one of my customers (an agricultural merchant) that I would be leaving the business the following month. They then told me that they were looking for a sales representative to join them ahead of lambing season and I was lucky enough to get the job.
What about this move into Agricultural Sales did you enjoy? What were the tough parts?
No two farms are the same. This is what I enjoyed about agricultural sales, listening to farmers and understanding their needs, using my AMTRA qualification and animal health training to provide the best solutions for their livestock was a truly satisfying part of the role. Creating strong long lasting customer relationships was also rewarding in terms of growing sales and having excellent success for my territory.
Although not every day was as rewarding, there would be days where you’re making lots of cold calls that don’t instantly result in selling a product, it can be easy to feel defeated.
When I was working as an Animal Health advisor, my territory was extended to a region that was unfamiliar with the company and was predominantly engaged with a competitor. It was a tough nut to crack and it took patience and resilience to get me through the tough weeks.
What skills do you think you need to succeed in the Sales & Commercial side of the Agriculture industry?
Organisation is huge, I used to plot out farm post codes using the AA route finder to make sure I wasn’t wasting time driving all over the countryside with little direction. At the time, the company I worked for didn’t have a CRM system, so good record keeping meant that I would know when my customers were due to order again and what other requirements they might have in the future. This was the best way to maximise sales from current customers.
Teamwork and communication was another essential. When I was working on a farm, my colleagues in the stores were always busy keeping the right amount of stock in and working out logistics for delivery. By understanding each other’s role and schedules, I was able to coordinate orders with deliveries and they were also able to support farming customers when I was out of signal or away on leave.
What advice would you give your earlier self at the start of your career?
I was guilty of comparing myself to others when I was at the start of my career. I remember feeling frustrated that I wasn’t exceeding targets, like some of my colleagues that had been with the business for over a decade. When I look back, I realise that didn’t do me any favours and it meant I was putting myself through worry and stress that didn’t help productivity or my motivation.
So how did your career evolve from Agricultural sales to where you are now, a specialist recruiter for the industry?
While working in Agricultural Sales, I also had a second career in the Army Reserves as a Combat Medical Technician. In 2017 I took a break from Agriculture to experience working abroad with the Army. After an exercise in Spain and a deployment in Uganda, I was offered a recruitment role with the Army as they established a new platoon in my hometown of Worcester.
I loved recruitment, but I felt the agricultural industry pulling me back to where I truly belonged. So, I decided to remain in recruitment, but within the agricultural industry. That was five years ago now, and the best decision I ever made!
What do you love about recruiting for the Agricultural industries?
When people ring me up and tell me how much they love their new job, it fills me with so much happiness. The same can be said for when our clients call us to tell us how well one of their recent hires is doing. Being a part of that candidate and client journey is hugely rewarding. In addition to the role, the Noble Future’s team is a really fun and energetic bunch to work with. Everyone is really passionate about the business and the way we operate.
What would be your advice for someone considering moving into industry from a technical or practical agricultural role?
Don’t put yourself under too much pressure, be patient and listen to your teammates. This is a friendly industry and many people have already made that leap from practical to commercial, speak to them and ask them about their experiences. They will probably tell you it’s not always plain sailing and it takes resilience and determination to succeed in a sales role.
What do you see for the future of the industry and the career paths available?
I believe Agri-tech and alternative protein solutions will be huge within the Agricultural industry. This will be driven by a global need to achieve better food security. This will open up the doors to candidates who are data driven, solution focused and passionate about sustainability.