Ben Weber – Senior Analyst, PPB Advisory
Posted October 21, 2013, by Julia Watters
Ben Weber is a senior analyst in agribusiness at PPB Advisory. He demonstrates how working in the agricultural industry has allowed him to combine his childhood dream of farming with an aptitude for economics. For Ben, it’s an ideal combination that allows him to see the country and get his hands dirty, while enjoying the perks of city life and professional credibility.
Did you always want a career in agriculture and why?
From a young age I always wanted to be a farmer. My parents aren’t farmers so there was no family farm for me to inherit, which made that career aspiration difficult to achieve. So my focus changed to finding a career that I could enjoy and be passionate about – agriculture (and in particular agribusiness) was a natural fit.
Why did you choose agribusiness specifically?
I enjoyed economics at school and spent every holiday and my first year after school working on my uncle’s property in the Riverina – so it was just a marriage of the two really.
How did your university experience shape your career aspirations?
Minimally. I was more concerned about college life and travelling than I was about my future career while at UNE. My career aspirations have been more heavily shaped by the people I have met and experiences I have had working in agribusiness.
What do you find the most rewarding part of your job?
The diversity of my role, which can range from advising on asset acquisitions for corporate investors, to overseeing the day-to-day running of farming operations, to mustering cattle. I also enjoy living in the city and still being able to get my farm fix on a regular basis.
What do you find the most challenging part of your job?
Dealing with distressed assets. People have deep emotional ties to agriculture, especially family farms. A part of my job is dealing with clients in financial distress, which can often throw up difficult and emotionally charged scenarios.
Do you have a good work–life balance?
Depends on how busy I am. My job is definitely not Monday to Friday, nine-to-five. I am often required to work weekends and late nights, be it in the office or on the farm. However, my company acknowledges this and they are flexible when we aren’t so busy. So overall, I would say my work–life balance is pretty good.
Does your work involve much travel?
Yes. My responsibilities are centred on providing management and advisory services to large-scale cropping and grazing operations. Currently they include operations in WA, NT, QLD and NSW – and you need to get on the ground to be able to do the job properly. In short, a lot of flying and driving. This gives me the opportunity to see some pretty diverse country, so I treat it as a perk.
What is your best advice for people looking to get into agribusiness?
Find an area that you are passionate about, be it cropping, beef, horticulture or wine, and make yourself an expert. There are a lot of jobs available for bright passionate people in agribusiness – and these are not necessarily in institutions that you would expect. Banks, accountants, law firms, advisory firms, fund managers – they are all developing specialist agribusiness teams and they are looking for people with genuine experience and a genuine affinity with agriculture.
If possible, get some hands-on experience. It is easier to provide advice or demonstrate your knowledge if you have physically worked in agriculture at the farm gate level. Working in agriculture and being based in the city, I have found that a farming background gives you a lot more credibility.