Source: Eastern Institute of Technology – Tairāwhiti
2 mins ago
After two and half years of studying, Adam Jerram has just submitted the last paper of his NZ Diploma in Agribusiness Management, a farm report on the commercial vineyard owned by his father in-law. “It feels like a real weight off my mind,” says the 37-year-old.
Adam is a qualified builder but growing up on a farm in Onga Onga ignited a passion for agriculture. While still working in the building industry he enrolled in a level 4 Certificate in Horticulture with the Open Polytec.
After he finished the qualification he was employed by his father-in-law to work in his vineyard. “I just love my job there. Being outside the whole day and working with people from all over the world, is very enjoyable.”
At that time, Adam started a two-year viticulture cadetship programme at EIT. Out in his in-laws’ vineyard, however, he realised that he needed to learn more about how to actually run a business. The agribusiness management diploma seemed like the perfect fit. “You think that it is easy to manage a business, but it’s anything but easy. The course gave me great insight into resource consent processes, health and safety and financial skills like writing a budget, but most of all an understanding of human resource management.”
For Adam the key to a successful business lays in the leadership of employees. This is one of the lessons Adam drew from the course. “Treating staff fairly and appreciative is not a liability, it’s an asset for better productivity and outcomes”, he says.
Many horticultural workers feel daunted about taking up a tertiary education but Adam’s advice is to give it go.
“I have the Irlen syndrome, which is why I struggle to process visual information, and reading from screens and white paper gives me a headache. I didn’t do well in school and have trouble with reading and writing but thanks to a special reading app, the support of my EIT tutors and my wife I exceeded all expectations.”
Juggling work, studies and family – Adam has three children, 11, 10 and 7 years old – was a mission, he says. His wife completed a nursing degree at EIT at around the same time and, on top of that Adam is engaged in community sports. He is the president of Hastings Anglers Club, a ranger for Fish & Game and a rugby trainer.
However, realising that his new skills made a major impact not only on his work but also on his personal life kept him going. “I can relate a lot of my new knowledge back to my work as a builder too,” says Adam. “The diploma taught me how to run a successful primary industries business and allows me to take my career to the next level.”