Westpac's Catherine Smith started as an Agri Graduate in 2018 and within six months was promoted to an Agribusiness Analyst role.
The 23-year-old spoke to REDnews about her journey.
Where are you from?
“I’m from the Manawatu, my family has a sheep and beef farm there, so I’ve always been surrounded by agriculture and farming.
"But now I’m based in the Hawkes Bay and work in Westpac’s Hastings branch.”
What did you study at university?
“I have a Bachelor of Commerce (Agriculture) from Lincoln University in Canterbury.
"I finished studying in October 2017 and started as an Agri Grad with Westpac in February 2018.”
Why did you want to join the Agri Grad programme?
“The program appealed to me as I had always wanted to be an Agri Banker and it was a great opportunity to give it a shot.
“The program was on-the-go learning and I had a mentor that I directly reported to.
"Everyone in the team was willing to help and committed to my development.”
What does an Agri Grad actually do at Westpac?
“You are exposed to what a relationship manager role is like by working alongside the managers, attending customer visits and work-shopping deals.
“Following on from a customer visit as a grad you would often write the review or lending application – this includes analysing financial accounts, budgets, farm performance and their servicing ability.
“When I started, I was in the Waikato which was mostly dairy exposure, but now in the Hawkes Bay there are sheep and beef farmers, dairy farmers and orchardists, which keeps the job interesting.”
What was your favourite thing about the Agri Grad programme?
“You get to go on a lot of customer visits in the field and build relationships with the customers, which was definitely my favourite part of the grad program.
“It was great to go on a visit and then complete a lending proposal/review for that customer as you had met them and been on their farm.
“Every day you learn something new about banking or the agriculture industry.
“Everyone is there to support you on the programme and there was so much help and many opportunities available.”
What would be your dream job?
“When I was younger, I always wanted to own my own café because I love cooking and baking.”
What's your favourite thing to do outside of work?
“I'm renovating my house, so I love working on that, as well as tramping and enjoying the sunny Hawkes Bay.”