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12 April 2017
Applying research skills and making professional connections pays off

Food and Agribusiness student Ashleigh James is making an impression whilst getting a taste of what working life will be like after graduation.

Ashleigh James at PwC

The future is looking bright for Ashleigh James as she completes her Food and Agribusiness degree and works with PwC.  

Research skills? Tick. Internship? Tick. Job? Tick. Degree? Well, one more year to go. Ashleigh James is in her final year of a Food and Agribusiness degree and has recently gained real-world professional experience in an internship that has offered more than your average work experience.

Ashleigh interned with PPB Advisory, a leading firm that offers advice and strategic outcomes to clients dealing with complex situations.

“In the agribusiness team where I completed my internship, a big focus was on investing in Australian agribusiness. The services offered by my team included strategy development, transaction services, deal flow, asset management, debt and corporate restructuring, strategic advice and restructuring and turnaround advice,” she said.  

Ashleigh has been developing her research skills throughout her degree and has been able to apply these in a work environment. The real-world projects she worked on were a highlight of the experience.

“I undertook a number of research projects relating to investment opportunities within various sectors of the Australian agricultural industry, such as grains, cattle acquisitions, olive oil, fruit and vegetables, viticulture and dairy manufacturing.

“I loved working on projects and with clients across different areas of agriculture. The diversity kept me really motivated and I was able to learn about industries I hadn’t even considered before,” she said.

My internship confirmed the career direction I’d like to pursue, which is truly invaluable in itself.
Ashleigh James
Ashleigh James and Greg Quinn

Ashleigh James with PwC's Agribusiness and Food Partner, Greg Quinn

Subsequent to Ashleigh’s internship, the agribusiness team of PPB Advisory merged with PwC. Partner with Agribusiness and Food at PwC, Greg Quinn, was impressed with Ashleigh’s high work ethic and enthusiasm, and asked her to join his team.

“Ashleigh added greatly to the overall team culture and service offering for the firm. Junior members of the team also benefited from working alongside and mentoring Ashleigh,” said Greg Quinn.

But PwC can’t steal her away on a full-time basis just yet.

“This year I’ll be focusing on my research project, which is looking at Chinese investment into Australia, but I’ve also secured part-time work with the PwC Agribusiness and Food advisory team, which I’m absolutely thrilled about. I’ll be able to finish my degree and continue learning on the job,” Ashleigh said.

“We hoped that longer term Ashleigh would want to come and work for the firm because she was happy with the style of work, the firm culture and our team culture, and we would want to have her work for us because we were happy with the standard of her work, her attitude and her ability to work with our team and add to our culture.

“Through exposure to ongoing business matters and working alongside our agribusiness experts, Ashleigh obtained valuable agribusiness and professional services experience that she may not otherwise have been able to obtain in the lecture theatre.

“We are excited for Ashleigh's future prospects, what she can achieve personally and what she can achieve for the food and agribusiness team and the firm,” said Greg Quinn.

Ashleigh James at PwC

Ashleigh James at PwC

Ashleigh said: “The most obvious benefit of my internship was the connections I made with the amazing people I was working with, as well as people throughout the industry.

“This full-time internship provides a really accurate taste of what life after graduation will be like. It has the ability to confirm the direction which you are heading, or perhaps lead you in another direction!

“My internship confirmed the career direction I’d like to pursue, which is truly invaluable in itself. I hope to continue into a career in finance within the agriculture industry and hope to develop my advisory and consulting skills,” Ashleigh said.

Food and Agribusiness is winning over many students. The combination of science and business opens up options for students to take advantage of the thriving agricultural sector from both food science and agribusiness perspectives.

“I have always had a passion for the business world and I love the fact that this degree enables me to differentiate myself. The agricultural industry is growing so rapidly both globally and within Australia, so I find the prospect of being part of that change very exciting,” Ashleigh said.

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