BY KERRY ANDERSON
CAREERS can be fast tracked in rural areas. Just ask Gareth Webb of Birchip. As I spoke to him in September he was preparing to accompany a group of cropping farmers on a study tour of North America. “I’m working” he reassured me in the most serious voice he could muster.
Raised on a farm near Natimuk, Gareth attended the local primary school then secondary college in Horsham. Following university in Melbourne he then pursued a career in commerce getting a taste of the city life and gathering funds to source his passion for travel.
Travelling through Turkey aged 23 years he came to the conclusion that he didn’t want to sit in an office for the rest of his life and started planning for the alternative upon his return.
“Coming from a farm I am attracted to the open spaces,” he admits. “I started researching farm machinery companies and in 2004 joined O’Connor’s Birchip branch working in sales.” The added advantage was moving back to a rural area. “You get community in a small town,” says Gareth.
Over a ten year period the award winning O’Connors has fast tracked Gareth’s career promoting him to branch manager and, most recently, to Group After-Sales Executive overseeing six branches across Victoria and South Australia.
Far from moving away from the action of big city enterprises Gareth has witnessed an explosion of new technology related systems supporting Australia’s agriculture industry to innovate and retain its status as a serious competitor in a global market.
O’Connors maintains a series of surveyed base stations strategically located throughout SA, VIC and NSW supplying a RTK signal capable of delivering 2cm accuracy. Precision Ag means that farmers can now monitor their entire fleet on a screen and communicate with machines via live telemetrics.
With skills shortages in many rural areas Gareth is living proof of how a career can be fast tracked. “There is so much more potential in rural areas,” he says. “Do something you love and you will go a lot further in life.”
And what about city versus rural living? Gareth’s advice to young people from rural areas is to move to the city and travel before making long term plans. “You don’t appreciate home until you’ve been somewhere else.”
KERRY ANDERSON: A businesswoman, philanthropist and community advocate from Central Victoria, Kerry Anderson is passionate about rural and regional Australia. She works with small businesses and rural communities to help them embrace opportunities.