New graduate programme driven by farmer demand for specialist agribusiness expertise

Perrin Ag’s new graduate programme responds to demand from farmers and growers for specialist agribusiness expertise as they navigate their way through unprecedented change.

Specialist skills in agriculture and horticulture consulting are in hot demand, but graduates with the tertiary qualifications and interpersonal skills needed to help facilitate change are in short supply.

Perrin Ag has launched its EMPOWER Graduate Advisor Development Programme to help fill the gap. The firm has committed to taking on a graduate advisor every 24 months and is now inviting applications from graduates from Massey, Lincoln and Waikato universities for 2022.

The successful candidate will be mentored through hands-on training and given the opportunity to specialise in primary industry consulting.  

Perrin Ag Managing Director Lee Matheson says that as farmers work to meet regional and national policy requirements, more skilled agribusiness advisors will be needed to help coach farmers through it.

“New Zealand’s farmers and growers are navigating their way through unchartered territory. We want to make sure they have access to the best people to help them continue to run sustainable and resilient farm businesses.

“Our primary industries need fresh thinking and new talent to help them innovate, learn and facilitate the work that needs to be done.”

Matheson says Perrin Ag’s business is built on the trusted relationships its team has with people who have one of the most important jobs there is – growing food. 

“Having the right people on our team who can nurture those relationships is crucial. We are confident our EMPOWER programme can help us find the right skills and talent for the job.”

While the EMPOWER programme is a formal process, Perrin Ag has been taking on graduates since 2013.

Rachel Durie started with Perrin Ag in 2019 after graduating from Lincoln University with an Honours degree in Agricultural Science.  

Originally from the South Waikato, Durie pursued a career in agribusiness because she wanted to help farmers find practical solutions to the wide range of challenges facing the agriculture sector.

Based at Perrin Ag’s Rotorua head office, Rachel works with farm managers to implement strategic farm and business plans, as part of her dairy advisory work. She also conducts land use change analysis, including research on incorporating forestry and trees into pastoral farm businesses, and provides clients with environmental support and Overseer modelling.

“The support from the Perrin Ag team has been outstanding coming in as a new consultant in a company with such a diverse portfolio,” says Durie. “There are so many opportunities to continually learn, explore areas of interest and be recognised for achievement within such an innovative business. Perrin Ag is an exciting company to be a part of.”

Successful graduates will complete post-graduate training with Perrin Ag in sustainable nutrient management and agricultural greenhouse gases. They will also receive industry certification and accreditation in areas including Dairy Farm Systems Certification, Farm Environment Planning Certification, as well as develop competency in industry software and introductory level Te Reo. A professional membership to the New Zealand Institute of Primary Industry Management is also provided.

Graduates with degrees in primary sector sciences, economics or resource management, who are passionate about New Zealand’s land based primary sector are encouraged to apply.

“Our EMPOWER programme is a great way for graduates to get a taste for a number of different industry sectors. There is a wide variety of work and access to training opportunities and supportive mentors, which is important as they begin their agribusiness careers,” says Matheson. “We are excited to see the breadth and diversity of young talent coming through our industry.”

Applications close Friday 10th September 2021. For more information click here.



Lee Matheson

Managing Director
Principal Consultant

B.Appl.Sc (Hons), FNZIPIM (Reg)

Lee came to agribusiness consultancy via the unlikely pathway of a suburban Wellington upbringing, an Honours degree in plant science and a six-year career in the financial markets. In his role as the firm’s MD, Lee doesn’t get out on-farm as much as he used to but makes the most of it when he does. While having swapped the paddock for the boardroom, Lee continues to provide advice in the areas of farm business strategy, farm system innovation, corporate governance, investment analysis and economic research.

Outside of Perrin Ag, Lee loves to spend his time coaching rugby, watching his three kids play sport and gardening with his wife Haidee.

“I love the challenge of empowering people in our primary sectors and the excitement of seeing clients achieving their aspirations. If we can encourage farmers to engage with their consumers, take a more active involvement in their supply chains and view their businesses through a wider lens, then I think our industries have a great future.”

Abbey Dowd

Consultant

B.Ag.Sc (Hons), MNZIPIM

Abbey joined Perrin Ag in February 2023 as part of the firm’s graduate recruitment programme, Empower.

Abbey grew up surrounded by dairy farms in a close-knit community in South Waikato. She saw first-hand how local farmers supported her community, which is what inspired her to study at Lincoln University.

Growing up in a rural community Abbey has always been impressed by how much local farmers contribute to the community. She wanted to help give back to the industry and play a part in helping our primary sector continue to produce quality food in a sustainable way.

In 2022, Abbey spent the summer as an intern on one of New Zealand’s first commercial deer milking operations. Her Honours project was researching deer milk alongside other more traditional milking operations and assessing the deer milking industry’s future production possibilities.

“Growing up I didn’t live on a farm, but I always knew I wanted to work in the farming sector. I wanted a role where there was a balance between working on and off farm and where I could support farmers to get the best out of their businesses.”

Sam Gray

Consultant

Sam grew up on a dairy farm in the Far North. After graduating from the University of Otago in 2005 with an Honours degree in molecular biotechnology, he spent several years working in medical research in New Zealand and Scotland. Upon returning to New Zealand in 2012, he spent four seasons dairy farming in Northland before purchasing a 56 ha block in Taupо̄, where he was first exposed to farming under a nitrogen cap. Sam joined Perrin Ag in 2023 and brings his strong analytical skills that are grounded by a pragmatic approach to problem solving. Outside of farming and consultancy, you’ll likely find him fly fishing, hunting or snowboarding.

“A lot of farmers feel overwhelmed in the face of a rapidly changing regulatory landscape. I strive to help farmers understand what these environmental regulations mean for their business, and offer practical solutions that allow them to keep doing what they do best, whilst remaining compliant”.

Danni Armstrong

Finance administrator

Danni grew up on a life style block in Atiamuri and spent five seasons as a relief milker in the area. During this time, her full time roles were in various fields including the rental car, health care and marine industries. Danni has had a focus on administrative and accounting duties, but is also proficient in looking after customers especially well, social media and website operation, running a rental car fleet and the associated tasks like training, rosters, H&S and organising repairs! Danni joined Perrin Ag in May 2021, to be part of a business in an industry she is passionate about.

During her spare time Danni can be found reading a book with her cats or out enjoying the walks in Rotorua’s Redwoods.

“What motivates me each day is knowing that I will be challenged with a range of problem solving tasks. I love to see all the figures adding up and knowing that my role makes a difference to the team.”

Duncan Walker

Director
Principal Consultant

B.Appl.Sc, MNZIPIM (Reg)

Coming from a drystock and dairy farming background, Duncan has always been passionate about growing primary sector businesses. Whether it’s pastoral farming, forestry, horticulture or investments outside the farm gate, sustainably optimising business performance is Duncan’s passion. After graduating from Massey University with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Agribusiness, Duncan’s first opportunity to optimise a farm business was by undertaking a dairy conversion. Duncan project managed the conversion and continued to run the dairy farm for a further three years.

Since joining Perrin Ag in 2011 Duncan works with a wide range of clients including those ‘outside the farm gate’. With his strong background in investment analysis, business strategy and project management, Duncan is increasingly working with clients to analyse and integrate horticulture and forestry investments into their farm businesses.

“I enjoy helping clients navigate through the complexities of today’s operational, financial and environmental challenges. Seeing clients achieve their goals is very rewarding”

Lee Matheson

Managing Director
Principal Consultant

B.Appl.Sc (Hons), FNZIPIM (Reg)

Lee came to agribusiness consultancy via the unlikely pathway of a suburban Wellington upbringing, an Honours degree in plant science and a six-year career in the financial markets. In his role as the firm’s MD, Lee doesn’t get out on-farm as much as he used to but makes the most of it when he does. While having swapped the paddock for the boardroom, Lee continues to provide advice in the areas of farm business strategy, farm system innovation, corporate governance, investment analysis and economic research.

Outside of Perrin Ag, Lee loves to spend his time coaching rugby, watching his three kids play sport and gardening with his wife Haidee.

“I love the challenge of empowering people in our primary sectors and the excitement of seeing clients achieving their aspirations.  If we can encourage farmers to engage with their consumers, take a more active involvement in their supply chains and view their businesses through a wider lens, then I think our industries have a great future.”