General Manager (Milk Supply) - Spring Sheep Milk Company - Taupo, New Zealand
- Master of Management Studies
Having grown up on a dairy farm in Gordonton, Thomas Macdonald has always been passionate about farming. He says there’s a growing need for people with agribusiness training and experience.
“The agriculture industry in New Zealand is huge and Waikato is at the heart of it. Many of the leading agribusinesses have their headquarters here, so the opportunities are endless and there are so many ways to be involved, both on and off the farm."
Thomas was thinking about studying at Lincoln or Massey, until he heard about the agribusiness major offered at Waikato University's Management School.
“I wanted to study the business side of agriculture rather than just the sciences, as it opens up a much wider range of careers choices. Farms have become large and complex businesses that require good financial advice. To be able to give advice on farm management, you need to understand farming, but you also need a solid financial background.”
Having completed a Bachelor of Business Analysis degree in 2013, he then decided to continue with a Master of Management Studies that would align research with his future career path.
Thomas thinks studying agribusiness in the Waikato has been a huge advantage for him. During his studies, he was awarded a $17,000 New Zealand National Agricultural Fieldays Sir Don Llewellyn Scholarship to assist with his research into the cost of environmental compliance in the dairy industry, and what the different options are for farmers with new regulations in place.
“The teaching staff at Waikato were focused on getting us into the industry, and they provided me with a lot of good networking opportunities through their extensive connections.”
“People might be surprised to learn how much dairy farmers are investing to protect the environment,” says Thomas. “The costs are usually between $100,000 and $200,000, but several farmers I interviewed during my masters have paid well over $500,000.”
After completing his master’s degree, Thomas was promoted to dairy business manager at Landcorp Farming, with responsibility for financial, operational and project management.
Since then, he has been appointed as General Manager - Milk Supply of Landcorp's subsidiary company, Spring Sheep Milk Company, which is based in Taupo.