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Michael Campbell's success story

Growing up in north west Sydney, Michael Campbell does not come from an Agriculture background. However, now he lives on both sides of the fence: he operates a beef farm and is a researcher at Charles Sturt University (CSU).

“I was involved in Agriculture at high school and studied an Agricultural science degree,” Michael said. “I moved out of Sydney and got a job with the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries as a beef cattle extension officer, which started me on my path to where I am now.”

Michael then moved to Rabobank as a rural manager for farmers. At that same time, he completed a Masters of Business Administration.

An opportunity arose for Michael to work as a cattle manager in Papua New Guinea. He stayed for a couple of years and had a plan to go into the area of international agri-business, however with a young family, he decided to move back to Australia.

Michael completed a PhD in dairy farm systems and got a job as a lecturer in farming systems at CSU, which has allowed him to explore many different areas of the industry. He has worked on projects with small dairy farms in Pakistan through to the beef industry in Australia.

“I get to engage with students and encourage them to get excited about Agriculture,” Michael said.

“My take on Agriculture is that it’s one of the most exciting industries to be involved with. It transcends boundaries across the world because every country has Agriculture and there’s a vast amount of career opportunities.”

“Essentially my focus – science, business and Agriculture – has lots of avenues to explore. I have worked in Papua New Guinea, and on projects in Pakistan and Japan as well as locally. It’s an exciting industry to be involved in, there’s a whole range of innovations and excitement around it.”

Michael and his wife, Jessica, also run an 1100-acre beef farm. The property has been in Jessica’s family for five generations.

“With a succession plan, we’re lucky enough to step into part of the family farm. Jessica’s brother farms across the road from us. So, it’s a great lifestyle for our family.”

Michael’s job is never mundane; “it varies from hands-on farm work right through the value chain to where I’m in a meeting in Sydney, discussing high level things,” he said.

“My big challenge at the moment is time and focussing because I think there are so many opportunities, to just actually focus on the key ones that are going to make the big differences.”

Michael’s passionate about spreading the word of the wide range of opportunities in the agriculture industry. His long-term aim is to integrate university learning into the industry itself.

“One of my key goals is to get students in the industry and have a really close working relationship with the Agricultural industry and the university. I also want to be seen as someone who’s had a positive impact on the industry – even if it’s only little bits along the way. That’s what drives me each day.”

Michael’s tips for people who want to enter the Agriculture industry:

– Communication is key: understanding and having a level of empathy with people allows you to communicate with them better.
– Problem solving and lateral thinking skills: there’s times when I’ll have an issue and it comes down to my research training – identify the problem, address it, and come up with a solution.
– Find things that are exciting to you and pursue them: there’s huge opportunities for good money, a great lifestyle and a job that’s meaningful to society. Get excited and don’t be put off by negative people.

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