Graduate Profiles - Bachelor of Agricultural Economics
Christopher Karagiannis and Stratton Powell-Hughes
Bachelor of Agricultural Economics, 4th Year
Christopher grew up in Sydney, finishing school at Christian Brothers Lewisham in 2007. “I had always wanted to do an economics related degree that incorporated the wider applications of business and economics to the big wide world, but never knew of anything beyond the normal Bachelor of Economics. I first found out about the course from my high school economics teacher, who recommended it over a more generalist degree due to its practical nature.”
Stratton was interested in the environment but was also a keen economics student. That posed a question – how to combine his passion for the environment with his natural ability in economics and business? “I wanted to develop the skills needed to solve what I consider the biggest issue of my generation; climate change; although I am not a scientist, so did not want to go into environmental science degree.”
One key factor for many students in the course is the importance of agriculture in the global financial system and its interactions with law, politics, business and trade. “Agriculture is a major part of the global economy and I wanted to be a part of that. I want to see if I can contribute to the growth and development of under-developed countries instead of just having a purely theoretical knowledge of the world’s problems,” Christopher explained. Stratton adds, “This course will provide me with a great understanding of how to solve real world economic issues.”
One of the best parts of studying Agricultural Economics is travelling nationally and overseas to where the real action takes place. Chris went on an excursion to Canberra with the Faculty to visit various government and private firms where economists, lawyers and business people discussed their jobs and the role of people with the BAgrEc. Stratton took a subject which involved a 3 week excursion to Laos, learning about development economics. This included living with Lao University students and their families for a few days, meeting business people and economists, and having a whole lot of fun with his classmates. Both Stratton and Chris love to travel and have enjoyed not only excursions with the Faculty but doing their own professional work experience. For many students, being part of the practical application of their degree is the highlight of the course! Stratton said: “I’ve been on several state and interstate field trips looking at both the primary sector and the Government sector. I did a 3 week stint on a station out in Far North Queensland, it was tough, but a great experience. I was also lucky enough to do a trip to Laos with the Faculty which was one of the highlights of my degree.”
Choosing a major was easier for Stratton – he already knew he wanted to focus on areas relating to climate change, it’s economic effects and market failure. But for Chris, it wasn’t until after completing the first few units of study that he decided to major in both economics and agricultural economics. “Over the 3 years of my degree, by doing both an Economics and Agricultural Economics major, I can now see the practical application of Agricultural economics. The aim of the Agricultural Economics major was to take the theory that I learned in Economics and apply it in a variety of situations in agriculture and business, as well as providing me with the opportunity to engage in field work and get a real understanding of the business world. I think this has really had an impact on my skills.”
Both Chris and Stratton participate in plenty of sports – Chris regularly snowboards and Stratton is a really keen sailor, rock climber and mountain biker. Both are keen members of University Societies such as SubSki and the Sydney University Rock Climbing and Mountaineering Club. Along with most of the students in the faculty they are also both members of AgSoc - “a pretty laid back society about meeting other students in the faculty and having a bit of fun.” As students of the Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, Stratton and Chris enjoy the benefits of a smaller, more personal Faculty for their coursework plus the big picture student life at Sydney University.
So what will they do after they graduate? Chris says is thinking about a graduate Law degree. “I had always been interested in economics, but the idea that I could do more than work in an office all day as well as do something I enjoyed really appealed to me.” Stratton is interested in a possible masters program, or getting into the workforce. “I really believe this course has provided me with a great base of knowledge regarding the economics of climate change. It is exciting and there are many career opportunities ahead. I feel that my degree is relevant to the future, not looking back at the past.”
Bachelor of Agricultural Economics (2007)
Current job: Associate, Securities Division Goldman Sachs
It was during High School at Pymble Ladies College in Sydney that Tiffany developed a passion for both finance and agriculture. She asked lots of academics, professionals and current university students to help her decide what degree to study. A four-year applied economics degree (which includes Honours) in Agricultural Economics was highly recommended. “I chose agricultural economics as my first UAC preference because I had a desire to study economics and finance coupled with a strong interest in agriculture.”
Tiffany commenced working with Goldman Sachs JBWere on their 2007 Graduate Program within the Securities Division. Goldman Sachs JBWere is a leading investment banking, financial advisory, securities and investment management firm that provides a wide range of services worldwide. She was quickly promoted and is now an associate of the Securities Division. “My broad role includes sales and trading for our primary clients located in the Asia-Pacific region. This also provides me with the opportunity to travel domestically and internationally. My role crosses over into various asset classes such as foreign exchange trading, futures and structured products, but my key focus is Australian and international equity markets. I enjoy working with Goldman Sachs JBWere, part of the Goldman Sachs Group, as it is a unique, diverse and challenging role which involves a high level of responsibility.”
Tiffany loved how her subjects were applied to one of Australia’s biggest industries. “The degree program is diverse with the opportunity to major in a broad range of areas such as finance, business law and economics. This means graduates are differentiated in the marketplace and are highly employable across a diverse range of areas.”
During her studies, Tiffany had a great time making new friends and participating in extracurricular activities. She got involved running AgCamp and as part of the degree she went on week-long excursions. She is now Vice-President of the Agriculture Alumni Association and stays in touch regularly. “The relatively small size of the Faculty provides opportunities to develop strong friendships with students from around Australia and abroad, which is a highlight of the degree and makes the university experience much more enjoyable.”
Advice from Tiffany...
“The biggest advantage of the BAgrEc is that it applies economics and finance to a highly diverse and important sector which contributes significantly to the Australian economy.”
Bachelor of Agricultural Economics (2001)
Current job: Senior Commodities Trader, Noble Group
“Having grown up on a farm in Trangie NSW, I wanted to choose a degree which gave me the option to retain my ties to agriculture and the land, and which was economics and business based,” said global commodities trader Oliver Kinsey. “Ag Ecos was the perfect solution.”
From rural NSW to Sydney to New York to Genève, Switzerland, Oliver’s career is an amazing example of how far an Agricultural Economics degree can take you. Almost as soon as he graduated, Oliver was hired and sent to the US for a year’s training, “Then I went to ECOM cotton headquarters in Dallas, Texas where I became the cotton derivatives trader, learning to trade physical and futures cotton.” Oliver was moving between Dallas, Memphis, New York and California and became a skilled trader and an expert in the market effects of globalisation, merchandising and government trading polices.
In 2007 he joined Noble Group, a global leader in the trade and value-adding of agricultural, industrial and energy products. He is now Senior Trader, Grains and Oilseeds Division at Noble Group at their Switzerland offices. Commodity trading is clearly his passion and he looks back fondly on his University experiences. “The strengths of the degree are many. You complete an Economics major, an Agricultural Economics super major, and optional third and fourth majors. The Ag Eco major is quite demanding, but very valuable. Applied Commodity Modelling (ACM) is extremely useful.”
With every challenge, Oliver has felt the value of his Agricultural Economics degree. “It was challenging but it’s provided the fundamentals for much of my day to day work. And the network of friends and colleagues it’s given me makes for a big advantage in my field.”
Advice from Oliver...
“My advice to any prospective student is the sooner you can find out what this course is about and where it will take you the better! Don’t be afraid to ask questions and seek advice from as many people as possible. Ag Economics at Sydney University is an excellent course and an excellent opportunity for an exciting career path, but you have to be able to see the bigger picture. You need to be able to see why you are doing ACM or Production Economics. You need to be able to see how this will be of use in the future.”