Graduate Blogs

Our current graduates embark on a structured learning program that exposes them to different facets of our business. From business unit rotations to one-on-one mentoring with agribusiness specialists, the graduate program aims to provide real work experience to talented graduates who want to join us in supporting and enabling farmers to build vibrant businesses across Australia. 

Meet our current graduates and read about their experiences as part of the Ag Achievers graduate program:

Anthea Healy

The start of summer
12 January 2017 | By Anthea Healy |  .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Without a doubt, summer is my favourite time of the year. Christmas and New Year provide the perfect opportunity to catch up with friends and family. For many of our clients, harvest was in full swing; long days, late nights and a keen eye on the weather horizon. In my last blog I mentioned how good the Mallee crops were looking. I couldn’t be happier to report that by all accounts, the yields lived up to expectations.

I spent the Christmas period at Rupanyup helping the family with harvest, which is always more enjoyable when you have the rainfall of 2016. Last year was full of new people and new learnings for me, so the routine of harvest was a welcome break, with the exception of a few breakdowns here and there!

I’m moving to Warrnambool at the end of this week to explore the South West region. It is incredible that in 400 kilometres the landscape can change so quickly. From the Murray to the Ocean, I fully intend to enjoy the new scenery and people.

Field

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My first regional rotation
18 October 2016 | By Anthea Healy |  .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Typically, I have travelled through the Mallee a few times a year, and have only seen the good and the bad years as a passer-by; 2016 seems particularly notable as one to remember. Fortunately I get to see this in detail during my first rotation in the Swan Hill regional office. I’ve covered some country with the lenders in the office - through field days, industry group events and farm visits, and have taken the opportunity to interrogate them with questions about the area as often as I can.

I was not prepared for some of the ventures in the Mallee; I never thought gumboots would be a requirement up here; but was happy to make an emergency purchase before the Birchip Cropping Group’s main field day. Besides the cold weather on the day and mud nearly up to my knees, it was interesting hearing the results from the group’s research and trials, especially with the somewhat unusual seasonal conditions. Through these opportunities and discussions with locals, I have appreciated seeing the cautious optimism that can be found in the grain growing regions.

I’ve enjoyed seeing different industries and the phases they go through at this time of the year, from dairying to stone fruit. It has been constant learning about new and interesting topics in agriculture.

  

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6 months in Bendigo
11 July 2016 | By Anthea Healy |  .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

During my time in Rural Finance’s Bendigo office, I have slowly been crossing weeks off my rotation schedule, and now that I am at the end of the first 6 months of the graduate program, it doesn’t seem even remotely slow. The weeks have flown by!

Since my last update, I have moved through five different areas of the rural business, Executive Projects, Customer Services, Loans Administration, Industry Programs and shadowing a Regional Manager.

A significant feature of this graduate rotation has been time spent completing a project under the guidance of an Executive of the business. This included formal training in Melbourne in addition to mentoring from the Executive and key members of the change management team. This allowed fellow graduate, Ben and I to explore how change is implemented and further opportunities to experience how the wider business operates.

The next phase of the graduate program is in a regional office working with the frontline sales team. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in the Bendigo office, but I am very excited to head north and enjoy Swan Hill for the next six months.

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Ag Answers
9 May 2016 | By Anthea Healy |  .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Ag Answers is an integral resource within Rural Finance and Rural Bank, through the provision of key research and analysis into agricultural commodities, weather and farmland values. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the team for the past three weeks. I had been looking forward to working with the Ag Answers team since the beginning of the program because the key updates they produce had always piqued my curiosity, and my time there did not disappoint.

During my weeks with Ag Answers, I tried my hand at completing the monthly dairy update for Victoria, in addition to looking at trends in grain, wool and livestock. It involved gathering information from public resources, where it can be summarised to provide the greatest benefit to our clients and any other readers (if you haven’t already seen them, the flyers are well worth a look!). I found this rotation to be really interesting, an exploration into the agricultural commodity world on which our clients rely. It gave me insight into our publications and enhanced my knowledge of the commodity markets, so much that I even signed up my parents for a subscription.

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A week in Victoria's north west
8 April 2016 | By Anthea Healy |  .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

As part of the graduate program, we spend a week ‘shadowing’ one of the Senior Agribusiness Relationship Managers within the business. This gives Graduates a chance to experience the ‘front line’, where the positive relationships our business prides itself on are formed. During this week, I spent time in the fantastic Swan Hill office and had the opportunity to tour avocado and table grape farms around the north-west Victorian region with other Rural Bank and Rural Finance staff.

Coming from a cropping background, there are definitely elements of the horticulture industry that are foreign to me, but I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to this part of the industry than hearing from a local farmer. I certainly learnt a lot.

   

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A new adventure
By Anthea Healy |  .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

I started my exciting new adventure as a Graduate with Rural Finance on 1 February 2016, commencing in their Bendigo office. Rural Finance is a division of the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Group and, alongside fellow subsidiary, Rural Bank, supports Victorian farmers with specialist financial tools and industry insights.

I grew up on a family farm near Rupanyup in western Victoria, a fantastic farming community with a particular focus on broad acre cropping. Working on farm and learning about different methods, traditions and upcoming changes in farming really interested me. With this interest in agriculture and my financial studies at Latrobe University (Bachelors in Accounting and Finance), applying for a position at Rural Finance through the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Graduate Program was a no-brainer. This program enables me to rotate through key areas of the business to gain an understanding of how each team collaborates to deliver great service to customers.

In the two months since I’ve been with the business, I’ve met some fantastic people, including co-workers, clients and other industry professionals. Highlights include an evening at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne with key members of the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Group, client functions featuring meteorologist Jane Bunn delivering weather forecasts for the farming community, and travelling some (very dry) countryside to visit customers. I consider myself exceptionally fortunate to have a start like this straight out of university.

Over the course of this blog, I’m hoping to share some of my experiences, thoughts and why I’m excited to be a part of Rural Finance and Rural Bank.

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Benjamin Gebert

Out with the cattle in Gippsland
1 December 2016 | By Benjamin Gebert | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Until a couple of years ago, Gippsland was a spot on the map that I wasn’t well acquainted with - having rarely travelled further East than Melbourne. With my first regional rotation being based in Traralgon, in Gippsland’s Latrobe Valley, I’ve become much more familiar with this green part of the state.

Agriculture in Gippsland centres predominantly on dairy and beef production. Horticulture is also present, as are sheep graziers, and some broadacre cropping around Rosedale through to Bairnsdale. The majority of my time has been spent on dairy and beef farms whilst over here which is a stark (and muddy) contrast to the cropping and sheep farming properties on which I was raised. I’ve attended a number of industry events on-farm; an area in which the dairy industry is very proactive. These events range from discussion groups, where farmers come together to share ideas about how to maximise efficiency on each other’s farms; to Tactics for Tight Times sessions where industry representatives organise strategy days to provide support and knowledge for broader groups of farmers. It’s brilliant to see people sharing their knowledge and working together and it adds a real sense of comradery and strength to the industry.

Working with the experienced Gippsland/Tasmania team has given me exposure to areas of agriculture that were previously alien to me. The relationships and knowledge developed here will definitely benefit me throughout my career.

Benjamin Gebert

Cattle

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A valuable stint in Valuations
18 August 2016 | By Benjamin Gebert | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Today’s blog instalment is coming from the Traralgon Rural Finance office. My first six months as an Ag Achiever in Bendigo have come to a close, with the next six months seeing me working in Gippsland’s Latrobe Valley – a big difference in climate from my home in the (much drier) Wimmera-Mallee!

My final month in Bendigo was spent predominately with the organisation’s Valuations department. This team assists the sales force by ensuring that client assets are assigned appropriate values for first mortgage lending purposes. Ensuring accurate valuation minimises the risk of financial loss for the Bank, and provides the client with the best opportunity to leverage their asset.

Victoria comprises over 2,000 parishes and each parish typically contains 4-5 different soil/land types, varying from unproductive to most productive. Rural Finance utilises indicative benchmarks that place a value range on each and every land type, in every parish with freehold land. One of the tasks I undertook with the Valuations team was updating parish benchmarks across the West Wimmera region. This entailed using mapping software and sales data compilation services to find property sales across the areas, mapping the properties and determining their market value. The team and I managed to update 50 parishes during my time with them, with our research indicating substantial increases in property values across the West Wimmera region. 

During my time in the field, the experience gained in the Valuations team will be particularly valuable; the sales force uses the benchmarks to assign values to properties when conducting on-farm interviews and inspections. Farm inspections in Gippsland will mean a lot of dairy, beef, and muddy boots – but I can’t wait.

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Treasury - Into the unknown
18 May 2016 | By Benjamin Gebert | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

When it comes to banks, one thing many people don’t understand is much of what is done within the Treasury department. How are interest rates set? Where does the bank derive funding for loans from? What’s involved in balancing what comes in and what goes out? These were my questions before I went into a two-week rotation with the Finance and Treasury team. Rest assured that they were all answered by the time I finished!

My first couple of days in Finance and Treasury were focused on soaking up as much information as possible from one of our Treasury analysts. I spent time learning to understand the many different programs and information sources that are relied on to ensure the bank has adequate funds to meet customer and regulatory requirements. After I had some idea of how the system worked, I was able to try my hand at updating some of the price setting and profiling tools used across the business. These activities gave me a solid insight into how the bank calculates risk, sets interest rates and conducts detailed financial forecasting. I also learnt about how the bank sources money, how much different forms of money cost (the cost of funds) and how differing costs affect interest rates on both loans and deposits. My Treasury rotation taught me about the ‘backbone’ of the bank and really helped me to understand the linkages between different parts of the business. While there’s no physical gold involved, the learning was worth its weight in it.

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An Induction in Adelaide
8 April 2016 | By Benjamin Gebert | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Monday afternoon saw me packing my bags and flying to Adelaide for two days of corporate induction. Why Adelaide? Well, besides being “The City of Churches”, Adelaide is home to a state-of-the-art Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Group office, housing many of the Group’s teams.

The induction program gave an overview of the many different facets of the business, explained how the units work together, and introduced us to the organisation’s leaders. Besides attendance by interstate Rural Bank and Rural Finance staff, we met a number of the Elders team. Elders Rural Services is a distribution partner for Rural Bank, providing tremendous regional reach and agribusiness expertise. Induction was a great opportunity to gain valuable industry and personal insights.

I concluded my rotation with the People and Culture team (who look after everything to do with ‘people’ or the human resources within the business) by collating leadership feedback on how to best promote individual and team performance. The beauty of Rural Bank and Rural Finance is that our senior leaders are highly receptive to meeting face-to-face or by phone, which allowed me to easily access our decision makers and efficiently compile the report. It’s a culture I’m proud to contribute to and be part of.

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A perfect fit
By Benjamin Gebert | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Who are Rural Bank and Rural Finance Graduates, what do they do, and what are they actually like? I’m Benjamin Gebert, and I’m fortunate enough to be part of the current Graduate intake.

My life in agriculture commenced at birth, only leaving the family farm in Victoria’s Wimmera-Mallee to study Business at Melbourne’s La Trobe University. My supportive rural community instilled in me a passion for such communities and the industry that fuels them. That’s where Rural Bank and Rural Finance come in.

I wanted to join an organisation that I could work for with pride, one that supported agriculture and rural communities. Rural Bank and Rural Finance stood out – they are owned by the community-centric Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Group and they offer the ‘Ag Achiever’ Graduate Program. After some research, I noted the Program gave graduates exposure to all organisational functions, including regional office rotations. The role was ideal. I applied, succeeded, and relocated to Rural Finance’s Bendigo office for six months to commence the Program.

I’ve worked with supportive teams across various functions, including Finance and Treasury, People and Culture, and our industry knowledge powerhouse Ag Answers. I also hit the road with a Regional Manager who works directly with customers and also manages a team of regionally-based Relationship Managers. These team rotations are not about undertaking menial tasks; they’re designed to evoke thought, equip you with a breadth of knowledge and allow you to add value to the business. I have worked on national reports, personally engaged with clients, contributed to meetings of the Bank’s Executive team and learnt banking essentials as well as how an agribusiness bank differs from a retail bank. There’s no coffee making here unless it’s for yourself! 

One stand-out for me has been the culture; I frequently chat with executive officers, senior leaders and the CEO around the office and over lunch. These people knew my name before I started and make an effort to regularly touch base. This is an organisation that invests in its people. I hope this this blog gives you an insight into the Program and encourages you to join us.

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David Swain

What can we learn from Graduate alumni?
15 June 2016 | By David Swain | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

I interviewed Mark Hodge and Kate Hemphill who are working as Agribusiness Relationship Managers (ARMs) in Rural Finance’s Shepparton office.

1. When did you start as a graduate

Mark Hodge: I started the graduate program with Rural Finance in April 1999 before the business became part of the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Group. I was the first to go through a formal graduate program at Rural Finance and have been here since, working in different locations around Victoria. I’m currently located in the North East of Victoria at the Shepparton office.

Kate Hemphill: I joined the organisation as the first group of Ag Achiever Graduates in February 2013. My program was for 18 months and I spent time in Bendigo head office, as well as Shepparton and Swan Hill.

2. What did you enjoy most about your time as a graduate?

MH: I enjoyed the variety of work I was exposed to – at the time, with Rural Finance being government owned, I was involved in the “Land Aggregation Program” after land around Omeo in Victoria’s high country was flooded following successive years of drought. I also spent some time in the old head office in Melbourne doing rotations with the finance, treasury and legal teams where I also got to work with a lender. During this time I also did relief work for lenders in the Horsham, Bendigo, Leongatha and Traralgon offices.

KH: The best part of the Ag Achievers Grad Program was the variety, with the opportunity to spend six months in three different locations. In head office, I did rotations with the different parts of the organisation, including working on a project I presented to the Board. I worked with lenders in Shepparton and Swan Hill and was on farm more days than not. The highlight of Shepparton was working on the Farm Finance Scheme where I learnt a lot about maintaining client relationships and communicating effectively with the customer. I was in the Wimmera Mallee for sowing time and had never been exposed to the scale of farms, having come from the Goulburn Valley – some client visits we had were spent sowing the crop with the client in the tractor.

3. What roles have you held since and describe your current role?

MH: I took on a lending role as an ARM in Shepparton after completing the graduate program (Please refer to David Swain’s blog “Around the town” to learn about what an ARM does with Rural Finance). I then spent some time doing a similar role in Warrnambool and Colac before returning to Shepparton where I am currently based.

KH: I graduated from the Ag Achiever Graduate Program working as a lending assistant to Mark Hodge and another lender in the Shepparton office for 6 months. I moved into an ARM position in Shepparton in early 2015 and now manage my own portfolio of clients. I’m really enjoying working with my customers and becoming an integral part of their business.

4. How did your time as a graduate help you progress to where you are now?

MH: As part of the graduate program, I was introduced to diverse agricultural practices in different regions of Victoria. I was also exposed to the different facets of the organisation through my rotations in head office and roles in the regional offices. This has proven to be really beneficial for me in working with the customer, understanding the resources of the organisation that are available to me, that will assist their business and help to develop the client relationship going forward.

KH: The Ag Achiever Graduate Program significantly assisted me with enhancing my organisation skills leading into the ARM role I am currently working in. I worked with colleagues in valuations, loans administration and credit which assisted with prioritising work flow management to ensure I maintain a good relationship with my clients. The best thing about the Bendigo rotation in head office is getting to know everybody so there is someone to call if I need assistance.

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Around the town
4 May 2016 | By David Swain | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

After spending some time in our Bendigo office, each Ag Achiever relocates to a regional office for the opportunity to work closely with the local agribusiness lenders. I’ve been based in Shepparton, part of the eastern region, for this rotation and would like to give you a flavour of what work in the regional office is like.

During my time in Shepparton, I’ve been working closely with one of our specialist agribusiness lenders, known as an Agribusiness Relationship Manager (ARM) due to the importance of maintaining strong relationships with our clients. We get out on farm a number of times per week to meet with the client in person and build on the business relationship. While on farm, we often discuss what the client has been doing, what their business goals are and what they require to achieve these goals. This is usually a kitchen table chat and has an informal feel. There are always lots of questions from both parties, which gives us a great insight into the client’s business as well as local issues and market trends. People are usually very happy to showcase their farm, to let us see how they’re developing it, utilising technology and advancing their business. We use the information gathered from the interview to prepare any finance deal back in the office, including our valuation of the farm. Something I really enjoy about the role is that every farm visit is an exciting experience, with no two visits the same.

The photos below show a land auction I attended last month, and a farm visit with a client who grows irrigated Lucerne and other crops in conjunction with their dairy enterprise. Auctions are a particularly good opportunity to meet locals and auctioneers who work in the area, while also getting a feel for the value of the region’s land. I have been working on deals with the ARM up until now and I hope to undertake a client visit on my own as I am approaching the last few months of the program.

David Swain Auction sign

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Farm visit
8 April 2016 | By David Swain | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

David Swain in front of dairy farmThis photo was taken when I visited a dairy farm in the south west of Victoria during my rotation in Rural Finance’s Warrnambool office. We were given a tour of the dairy as the last of the cows left the yards from the morning milking. The property owners were preparing the dairy for a changeover of milk contracts. As part of the farm visit, we also discussed their need to replace and upgrade an old tractor. This involved changing model and increasing the horsepower of the machine to increase its useability as the main tractor for the farm. This new piece of machinery would be used to sow and spread fertiliser around the farm.

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Every day brings something new
By David Swain | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Hello, I’m David Swain and welcome to the Rural Finance and Rural Bank Graduate blog. I will be writing here to update you on what I have been doing within the Graduate program here and how it might be appropriate for you, if you apply in this year’s intake.

A bit about me – I studied a Bachelor of Agriculture at the University of Melbourne and completed my final year at Dookie College. I joined the Graduate Program to gain experience in agribusiness lending, with my ambition being to become an Agribusiness Relationship Manager, supporting farmers to help their businesses succeed. I am currently in the last six months of the 18-month program and have been lucky to live and work in three different locations. I spent six months in Bendigo learning the mechanics of the business before undertaking six months in Warrnambool learning the role of the regional Relationship Management team. I am now in Shepparton learning more “tricks of the trade”. It’s been great to gain a real-life understanding of how finance works for customers and also the role of the service provider in that relationship. Whilst in the Bendigo office, I was given a number of opportunities to work with the Bank’s Executive team to develop future ideas and tools to support the business. These projects were undertaken with other graduates from my intake and we were given the opportunity to present our completed work to the Rural Bank Board, senior leaders and other staff to showcase its relevance to the everyday operation of the business.

I have really enjoyed traveling to meet new and existing clients, developing the relationship, and assisting these farmers achieve their ambitions. Every day brings something new and it’s a great working environment with a good balance of time spent in the office and out on the road. My favourite part of the job is getting on farm and talking with clients to help them grow their business and achieve their goals. 

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Joshua Thunig

One Year with Rural Bank
December 2016 | By Joshua Thunig | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

As I write this blog it has been exactly one year since I started my graduate program with Rural Bank. Where has the year gone? Do years usually go by this quickly?

Anniversaries are a good time to reflect on what you have achieved and gauge what it means for the future. When I think about what I have learnt and achieved over the past 12 months, I remind myself that when I started I had never been employed in a full-time capacity and had limited knowledge of farming and banking. I was a mostly shy and reserved person who was excited and a little scared of what was to come.

While I am still excited about working for the bank and developing my skills, I am definitely not afraid to get involved and challenge myself. I am now a more confident person.

And it’s hard to comprehend how much I’ve learnt too. From understanding workplace values, reporting, policies and procedures, farming practices, workplace values, financial analysis, applications, and then remembering all the acronyms that exist in the business! The graduate program has allowed me to understand all of this and more.

But perhaps the most satisfying part of my graduate program has been the opportunity to contribute back to the business as I learn.

During these past 12 months I have looked at loan applications, improved the bank’s Hindsight Review process, provided market analysis for Relationship Managers, managed valuation requests, and so much more.

Taking on these projects and getting involved in the thick of it has resulted in the most growth for me.

Every day I am thankful of the opportunity I have been given, and I continue to want to show my worth to the business.

I finish my rotation in Credit at the end of the year before I take on my next rotation in Risk late January.

Happy holidays everyone!

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Credit Crunch
19 September 2016 | By Joshua Thunig | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

I am currently working with the Adelaide Credit team as part of a 12 month rotation. The Credit team are in the thick of the banks operations. They mainly review loan applications for property purchases, livestock purchases, equipment finance and refinances. This is done by checking financials, livestock schedules, crop projections, security, insurance, and so on.

It’s very much core banking knowledge, which I’m sure will prove valuable throughout my career.

As part of my rotation I have been required to undertake training to use the AgriBank System; a computer program that allows users to create, submit and review credit applications. It was very reassuring to know that I wasn’t going to be thrown in the deep end without having some training provided! The system was daunting at first but I have the hang of it now.

I have had the opportunity to assess loan applications and bounce off a few of the Credit team members who’ve guided me through to credit process. While I can’t approve any deals, it’s been quite interesting looking at loan applications and trying to work out whether they are sound or not.

Early on it was difficult to gauge what to look for, but with practice I have been able to ‘connect the dots’ and identify what good applications look like.

In between looking at loan applications, I am kept busy compiling monthly reports used for committee meetings, and collecting various data and analysing the results to help adjust policy.

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Bats, Grads and a statue of Monroe
28 June 2016 | By Joshua Thunig | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Before I started my rotation within the Credit team, I travelled to Bendigo to meet the Rural Finance and Bendigo Bank teams and learn about the requirements for my new role in Credit.

Even though it’s a regional city, Bendigo has a lot to offer. The food scene was impressive, with many diverse restaurants lining the streets, and finding out about the amount of festivals that the city hosted every year showed that Bendigo had plenty to do. I was lucky enough to see an 8-metre statue of Marilyn Monroe, promoting an exhibition in her honour, in the city centre. The statue weighed 15 tonnes and always seemed to have a crowd snapping up pictures.

Walking through the beautiful Rosalind Park and seeing the bats fly around was a surreal experience that helped to make the trip even more memorable.

In the Rural Finance office I met the team, including my fellow graduates. I really enjoyed talking to them about their experiences so far and what was ahead for them. Since we had all roughly been through the same hiring process and induction to the business, we related well to each other, which helped build rapport. The chats quashed the idea that I was the only one experiencing certain challenges at times. It really reinforced the belief in my own capabilities.

In between meeting the graduates, I was getting a rundown of the work I’d be doing in Credit. It meant I had a lot of time to ask questions and understand exactly what I’d be doing. This was a unique way of easing me into the next rotation.

While we do have access to good communication tools, like video conferencing, with the business split over many different locations throughout Australia, it’s very important to make the most of face-to-face meet ups when they arise.

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Video Interviews
14 April 2016 | By Joshua Thunig | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

You’ve made it through the online tests and you’re feeling pretty good, right? If you are, don’t get too complacent yet because the next step of the graduate recruitment process can be a tricky one.

I’m talking about pre-recorded video interviews; seemingly the easiest, but possibly one of the toughest assessment tools. The process requires the applicant to read five different questions on the computer screen and then talk to the webcam with their answer to each question. The applicant’s answers are recorded and assessed by Rural Bank/Rural Finance recruitment staff at a later date.

What makes it so tough? For some people, it’s the idea of talking to a computer and not receiving any immediate feedback as you would when talking to a person. So it’s difficult to gauge if you are actually making sense and it’s easy to ‘waffle’ because you don’t get a nod to say you’ve hit the mark. For other people, it’s the trap of not doing enough research into what they’ll likely ask you. Remember, you don’t have the opportunity to clarify the question. For me, it was making sure my brothers didn’t barge into my room during the recording and put me off my game!

  1. Do your research
    • Look into the values of Rural Finance, Rural Bank and Bendigo Bank. Do they resonate with you? Consider some examples where you have demonstrated similar values.
    • Think of what type of questions they’d most likely ask you.
    • What are your strengths? Think about why they should hire you and have a go at explaining that in a mock interview.
  2. Practise, practise, practise
    • No one is instantly a pro at talking to a camera. Make sure your actual interview isn’t your first attempt at doing the online interview.
    • Write a few mock responses and practise talking to the camera. If you record it, you can review and ask others for their opinion.
  3. Relax and be yourself
    • The process isn’t about trying to trick you. It’s just an assessment method to see what you’re really like.
    • They want to see the genuine you so don’t pretend to be something you’re not.
  4. Be in control
    • ake control of your own destiny!
    • Minimise Murphy’s Law. Dress appropriately, find a quiet location, and make sure the Internet doesn’t get switched off during the interview (it happens!)
  5. Learn from it
    • If you do progress or not, make sure you get something out of it.
    • This isn’t just about getting a job, it’s also about further improving yourself. Skills gained from a video interview can be transferable to other things in life.

Take these steps and you’ll be well prepared to show your true skills, personality and ambition. Good luck!

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Partner Management Placement
8 April 2016 | By Joshua Thunig | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

For me, the first three months of the graduate program involved a placement within the Partner Management team, which is a really unique team who are involved in nearly every aspect of the bank’s operations. With Rural Bank’s unique distribution model, the Partner Management team focus on fostering relationships with our channel partners, Elders, and the Bendigo Bank and Community Bank® network to support business growth.

My role was quite analytical at times, ranging from forecasting new settlements monthly for Elders to conducting market analysis in Gippsland to determine opportunities available to Community® Bank branches.

During the three month stint, I was also part of a team assigned to update an intranet page. This gave me a chance to get a little creative and design what the page would look like!

I wasn’t just in the office all the time as I was also able to go on the road a couple of times and shadow a relationship manager for a day. Having direct customer interaction help me to understand why the bank exists and how we can further improve our customer service.

I thoroughly enjoyed this rotation as no day was the same with new and exciting projects always popping up. The variation in the work was the most surprising aspect of it all and it meant that the three months went by very quickly with plenty to learn!

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Michael Curtis

Interview with past graduate Greg Kuchel.
24 May 2016 | By Michael Curtis | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

1. When did you start as a graduate?
I started in 1998 – coming up to 19 years now. Back then, we didn’t have email, my work mobile phone was a handset attached to the car and there was no Microsoft Office. My graduate program was not as sophisticated as what is offered now, but invaluable nonetheless.

2. What did you enjoy most about your time as a graduate?
I had the opportunity to be mentored by some very experienced “legends” of the organisation. The best skills they taught me were how to relate to clients, to get the information you need without sounding like an interrogator and learning that having good relationships with people is paramount. As a graduate, it is the only time in your working career where you are paid to learn, everyone wants to teach you and the only expectation on you is to absorb as much knowledge as you can and ask lots of questions.

3. What roles have you held since and describe your current role?
I spent nine years in Agribusiness Relationship Manager roles in Warrnambool, Swan Hill and Mildura. I then returned to Warrnambool and spent six years as a Regional Manager. My current role is Regional Manager Agribusiness, looking after North West Victoria, which I have been doing for four years. The job I have now is the best one I have had. I am still very close to the front line to get a great feel for what is happening in agricultural industries and what our clients are experiencing. I also have the opportunity to really impact on the development of our people (which I enjoy the most) and get great exposure to the internal workings of the business – this provides opportunities to influence the organisation for the benefit of our clients, our sales staff and the organisation.

4. How did your time as a graduate help you progress to where you are now?
It gave me a great grounding and understanding of the business and helped me build relationships with others within the organisation that I wouldn’t normally come across.

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Assessment centre and interview
22 April 2016 | By Michael Curtis | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

With the recruitment process for the 2017 graduate program underway, I want to share some of my advice and experiences from the assessment centre and individual interview.

The assessment centre involved an individual writing task and a group activity. In the group task the candidates received a brief and had to discuss the issue as a group before doing a short presentation to a panel of assessors who had been in the room watching the whole discussion. The aim is to demonstrate how you work in a team. There are a few ways to approach it but I felt it was important to be a contributor but not try and dominate the group.

Having got through the assessment centre, I found the individual interview to be a bit more relaxed and comfortable. It’s easy to get nervous for interviews but my approach is to try and be relaxed and think about the things that I can control. I walk in prepared to be myself, share who I am, what I’m passionate about and why that all aligns with the role I am applying for. While you can never guarantee what you will be asked, there are some common questions that you can prepare for. I also prepare answers for questions I don’t want to be asked and have some of my own questions to ask the panel.

All the way through the recruitment process it’s important to be yourself, be prepared and demonstrate your passions. That way you’ll give yourself the best chance at succeeding.

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Much to learn in Adelaide
By Michael Curtis | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Last Wednesday I flew over to Adelaide for a meeting with one of the Agribusiness Relationship Managers for local verification of the content within a national Ag Answers insights report I am working on. I had spent a couple of months working through the data analysis, and compiling a draft of the South Australian chapter of the report.

This meeting was a chance to share that content with a local expert, to validate the findings and seek some commentary to help explain certain trends. It was great to sit down face-to-face and receive feedback on my work. It was also valuable to learn more about different farming regions and enterprises in South Australia and get an insight into how another relationship manager is working with his customers.

It was an enjoyable and worthwhile trip.

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Learning and development
By Michael Curtis | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

I grew up in Melbourne and despite being a city boy, developed a passion for agriculture. I studied a Bachelor of Agriculture at the University of Melbourne and spent my third year at the Dookie Campus.

The Ag Achievers Graduate Program appealed to me as the structure of rotations would allow me to sample different areas of the business and spend time in multiple regions. The community focus of the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Group made it an appealing organisation to work for.

The first six months of the graduate program was spent within Rural Finance’s Bendigo office. During this time, I rotated through different teams including Valuations, Loans Administration and Credit gaining a great understanding of the lending application process. A key highlight of this rotation was undertaking an project for the Bank’s Executive team, which gave us the chance to contribute something meaningful to the organisation and present to senior leaders and executives. In the second half of 2015, I was based in Shepparton working alongside the team of Agribusiness Relationship Managers. I enjoyed the chance to go out on client visits, learn more about different farming systems in the region and work through loan applications. For my final rotation I have taken a slightly different path and joined the Ag Answers team, which provides industry insights and analysis to customers, industry and staff.

The Ag Achievers Graduate Program has been designed to facilitate learning and development with great access to people in all areas of the organisation. The rotations in head office and out in the field have given me great exposure to the many roles that exist in the organisation.

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