Business and study combine forces to promote agriculture as rewarding career path


Opportunities for employment in Australian agriculture have been given a boost with a program on offer that takes students out of the classroom and into the business world.

Offered by the Deakin Graduate School of Business, the Business Practicum Program provides students with the opportunity to observe and participate in a range of real world business experiences related to their studies through undertaking a company-developed project during a 12 week placement.

Monsanto Australia partnered with PMA Australia-New Zealand Limited, (an affiliate of Produce Marketing Association -the leading global trade association serving the produce supply chain) to offer a placement to Deakin University MBA student Sonya Breen.

Ms Breen joined the Marketing Department of Monsanto Australia to work on a project within their vegetable seeds business.

The Business Practicum Program has proved to be a win-win for all parties involved and this project in particular has highlighted Australian agriculture and the fresh produce sector as a rewarding career path to consider.

Steve Ogden-Barnes from Deakin University says the practicum program works to ‘extend the boundaries of education’.

“The Program is unique in that it facilitates the development of close relationships with professional associations, other education providers and universities, business, employers and government - across Australia and internationally.”

“We are providing our top performing MBA students with innovative, experiential learning that ultimately enhances their employability as well as prospects for promotion,” Mr. Ogden-Barnes said.

Monsanto’s Country Lead in Australia, Peter O’Keeffe, said it was extremely worthwhile taking part in the placement.

“The practicum is different to traditional internships which are sometimes actually draining on company resources. This is something I would definitely recommend other organisations consider,”

“We were able to work with Sonya in a mutually beneficial arrangement whereby the project work fed directly into our five-year strategic plan whilst she gained valuable business experience” O’Keeffe said.

Michael Worthington, CEO of PMA A-NZ said the collaboration with Monsanto and Deakin highlights the importance of working together to develop and promote pathways to agriculture and the food industry as a rewarding career choice for graduates from a wide-range of degree courses.

“When we established our collaborative agreement with Deakin, this was just the sort of outcome we were hoping for. Through our role in facilitating the process of matching Deakin practicum students with our member-companies, we believe we have achieved our primary objective of attracting talent to our industry”, Mr. Worthington said.

Ms Breen said the Business Practicum Program provided a unique opportunity to further develop her skills in a real business environment and highlighted employment opportunities in an industry she wouldn’t normally have considered.

“Monsanto Australia gave me a fantastic opportunity to make real business decisions and bear the consequences for those decisions. There was no hand-holding from management and I was required to draw on the knowledge I have gained from my MBA.

“The practicum also really opened doors for me when it came to potential employment opportunities, not only internally but on a broader industry level. When I began the Business Practicum Program I was hoping for a challenging project but what I got was really so much more. It exceeded my expectations,” Ms Breen said.


Keryn Mclean, Corporate Affairs Ph: 03 9522 7165 Mob: 0409 536 446
Michael Worthington, CEO, PMA A-NZ Mob 0409 181 034
Steve Ogden-Barnes, Unit Chair for Practicum and Internships Deakin Graduate School of Business, Deakin University Ph: 03 9244 5021

About Monsanto Company: Monsanto Company is a leading global provider of technology-based solutions and agricultural products that improve farm productivity and food quality. Monsanto remains focused on enabling both small-holder and large-scale farmers to produce more from their land while conserving more of our world’s natural resources such as water and energy. To learn more about our business and our commitments, please visit: