An Outsider’s Insider view of OBE Organic

By Elizabeth Argue, first year Bachelor of Agriculture and Business student, University of New England.

I thank OBE Organic for generously hosting me for work experience. I could not have asked for a better introduction to this professional sphere which has given me my first insight into the corporate world.

The open office dynamic was very welcoming, and conducive to a collaborative and inclusive work ethos, which carried through to how the team was in continual conversation with each other to grow relationships with each individual along the supply chain. From family farmers to international customers, each relationship was valued and managed in some way by each of the team, which was something I really admired.

I cannot speak highly enough of OBE Organic’s sustainability and communication consultant Mr Chris Cosgrove who mentored me during the placement. His interpersonal skills and business knowledge was inspiring. From his guidance I was introduced firstly to OBE Organic as a company and then extended that knowledge to study customer relationships, marketing and how to use social media to engage with target audiences. The tasks I was given were meaningful, allowing me to learn and contribute in a small way to the business, which was much better than the usual work experience expectation of photocopying and delivering coffee.

Chris’s area of communication and sustainability was a new concept of interest to me.  As I learnt more throughout the weeks it became apparent to me that expertise in these areas is vital and a key driver of any business that aspires to be viable long term. To be able to work in such a company as OBE Organic, with the expertise of Chris, accompanied by the passion of Managing Director Ms Wray, to create positive change within the industry and remain at the forefront of innovation, was unique and one I believe not many work placement students would have the honour of experiencing.

One of my greatest insights was the powerful concept of making “outside – in” business decisions. In regards to sustaining and building customer relationships, this concept was about putting yourself in others’ shoes to gain a thorough understanding of customers’ or influencers’ expectations of the company, then interpreting these into effective actionable responses to better relationships and develop the value of the business. Learning about this concept was a highlight of my experience as it really emphasised to me not only how OBE Organic is such an innovative company striving to achieve new heights for those invested in their supply chain, but also that for any future decision professional or personal I make, this process of reflecting on my actions and collaborating with all those involved is essential.

Making the most of an agricultural/business degree – tips and reflections to share.

–        The first image that comes to mind when agriculture is mentioned is the traditional man on a tractor or mustering livestock. However, today the concept of agriculture is incredibly diverse and a key point I have learnt from studying and working at OBE Organic is that the industry is constantly evolving, and you are only limited by your imagination regarding future careers.

–        A tertiary education at University is also a valuable tool to change this misconception and create high powered, educated leaders to advance the agricultural industry.

–        University is the stepping stone to finding your ideal career. Work experience is the perfect opportunity to “try before you buy.”

–        A welcome surprise from work experience was that I was able to draw from information I had learnt in the classroom, and practically apply it to several tasks which was very helpful.

–        Ask questions and say yes to everything! An open mind was the best way for me to be able to learn so much and come away from OBE Organic with professional and personal insights that I will continue to draw from throughout my working life

I am truly grateful for the confidence and understanding that this placement has given me. Sharing an office with such an inspiring team, was professionally and personally rewarding. The knowledge I gained from this placement is something I will carry with me long into the future.