Journey of an 'ag' grad: Jake Gaudion
From grappling with challenging stock sudokus, to tasting watermelons for a living, working in agriculture has a myriad of career options. In this series, we catch up with three agricultural graduates who have taken their degree in three very different directions. In part one, we chat to BASF Seed Supply Coordinator Jake Gaudion.
As a teenager, Jake Gaudion knew he wanted to study science after school, but with so many interesting disciplines to choose from, he struggled to settle on just one. “I really enjoyed biological, ecological and chemistry areas of study,” Jake reminisces. “I toyed with the idea of becoming a vet for a while so studied a few subjects which ended up overlapping with agriculture. It was during these subjects that I found that I really enjoyed learning more about agriculture, food security and some of the environmental challenges in agriculture, so ended up majoring in agroecology and sustainable agriculture.”
After completing a Bachelor of Science, Jake took some time off to travel the world and influenced by what he saw along the way, decided to learn more about issues of food security and associated environmental challenges by completing a Masters of Agriculture Science majoring in Food Sustainability upon his return.
After completing his studies, Jake joined BASF’s Agricultural Solutions customer service team, where he managed crop protection orders for Western and South Australia, and national canola seed orders. “Working in customer service was a massive help in terms of understanding the importance of accurate and transparent processes and also assisted me to further develop people and communication skills to deal with a variety of stakeholders and customers,” Jake explains. “Working in customer service, I really enjoyed the teamwork and relationships developed with people both internally and externally. I learnt so much about the massive complexities of working within customer service – it really isn’t just pushing out orders and answering the phones, there are complex and difficult tasks which have to be done on top of that, and this made it a very demanding but rewarding role.”
After 18 months, Jake had the opportunity to draw on his natural strategic instincts when he transitioned to his current role as a Seed Supply Coordinator, a dynamic role Jake says never lacks in diversity. “There is probably no such thing as a normal day, every day is different. At times I will be doing demand planning for 12-24 months down the track. Coming up to sowing I will be busy working with colleagues and processors to ensure our seed is cleaned and treated. Some days I will be out and about drawing seed samples from our storage warehouses and analysing quality testing results. It is quite a dynamic role.”
Jake says he loves working in agriculture due to the diversity of scientific disciplines it involves, and the ability to positively influence people and the planet. “I think it is a really interesting and crucial time to work in agriculture. With the world’s population still growing rapidly and forecast to reach 10 billion people, it is a necessity that agriculture yields and production increases to keep up with this,” he explains. “There are also the challenges imposed by climate change which will make it harder to reliably produce high quality food. These challenges require some pretty significant solutions to increase efficiency in food production, and for those reasons it is a really challenging but exciting time to be working in agriculture.”
For those considering a career in agriculture, Jake advises to try and gain experience in as many different areas of agriculture as you can. “No one area is the same and the more information and knowledge you can build, the better. If you are like me and enjoy learning about different fields of study but don’t necessarily want to focus on one specific scientific discipline, then agriculture is a great area to be in.”