A passion for ag and the community forge Jack’s path
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A passion for ag and the community forge Jack’s path

Category Our People

Jack McPherson - Rabobank

Stepping out of a successful and secure career to chase a dream takes courage.

For Jack McPherson, a stint returning ‘back to basics’ working as a farm-hand on a Wagyu cattle operation provided an opportunity to reset after a 10-year agribusiness banking career, based largely in Melbourne.

It also provided clarity surrounding his passion for ag.

“I grew up on an Angus beef and sheep farm in Violet Town, Victoria and had a real yearning to get back on the tools – working on-farm was an itch I needed to scratch,” he explains.

“It was a bit of a risk financially and professionally to chase a dream, particularly with two young children, but my wife Sarah was extremely encouraging. It came at a point in my life when I wanted to strip everything back and test where my passion lay, for a genuinely meaningful career.”

Within the first week he knew agriculture had his heart, listing the experience as one of his greatest.

It also set the path that led him to his recent appointment with Rabobank as a Rural Manager in the Bendigo region.

“My six months on the farm really cemented that I wanted to continue working in ag, whether it be hands-on, consulting, or the like.”

“I’d enjoyed a decade in the banking and finance sector, and had kind of put a line through agribusiness banking – until I heard from a friend about Rabobank’s model.”

“An agribusiness banking role where you’re encouraged to spend the majority of your week on-farm with clients aligned perfectly with my passion and skills, and I feel very grateful to now be embarking on a career with Rabobank.”

“After ten years in the corporate world it feels like a role that really fits, and I have no regrets about the journey that led me here.”

Continual learning in and out of the paddock Jack’s key to success

Jack’s professional career includes an initial role on Collins Street out of University, before a move into agribusiness banking with one of the big four banks.

A year long tenure working out of Shepparton during the dairy crisis was a ‘baptism of fire’, but helped Jack develop valuable skills and empathy that has served him well throughout his career.

“There were a lot of tough conversations around kitchen tables with dairy clients who were working so hard, but still making a loss,” he explains. “The milk price simply wasn’t covering costs and it was a massive learning curve for me in regards to building genuine relationships with farming clients.”

Jack then moved to Melbourne to work in corporate agribusiness with the same bank, gaining experience post the farm gate, and was promoted into a management role, catapulting him from “the client’s kitchen table to the boardroom table.”

Keen to develop a new knowledge base and skill set, Jack moved across into a financial markets role, and for three years worked in the bank as a foreign exchange specialist.

“It was a very fun fast-paced environment with a great team culture. I was fortunate to have some great mentors in this space who really pushed my professional development.”

During these years he smiles that his bias towards agriculture remained, and he enjoyed doing deals that might involve wool exports, harvest machinery imports and he also had a role in soft commodities, namely grains and oilseeds, hedging.

“It was a great experience that gave me the tools and confidence to make markets relevant to clients, and explain exactly what is happening in layman’s terms, which may make insights more meaningful on farm.”

Community at heart

Having missed the sense of community so vibrant in rural and regional Australia, Jack and Sarah agreed that it was a ‘non-negotiable’ that they’d move out of Melbourne when the time came to start a family.

The couple moved to a small farm in Lancefield three years ago, which was followed by the birth of their son William, now two, and more recently a daughter Edie, four months old.

“Growing up in Violet Town my parents were very involved in the community, whether it was a new fence for the kindergarten or a fundraising event, Mum in particular usually had her fingerprints all over it!”

“We really craved that community aspect of country living when we were in Melbourne, and we’re excited to now be throwing ourselves into the social fabric of Lancefield – the people here have been so welcoming, so we’re really keen to give back over time.”

Jack is a strong supporter of the Lancefield Tigers Football Netball Club, and while he laughs that his playing days are numbered, off field he enjoys playing a small role in helping to strengthen the club’s connection to its community.

Jack McPherson - Rabobank

Jack and his family are regular fixtures in front of the pavilion at home games.

He’s also following in his late father’s footsteps by getting involved with his local Country Fire Authority, located at Nulla Vale.

“It’s a tin shed brigade, but I get so much enjoyment being around this wonderful group – it’s a source of great knowledge and local history and I love taking my son down to the meetings on a Sunday afternoon for a truck ride and listening to their stories, it’s a privilege for sure.”

Learning through farming

It was in September 2022 when Jack took his brave leap out of the office and into the paddock, no doubt spurred by his newfound rural lifestyle.

He spent six months working as a farm-hand, and is grateful for the enthusiasm and support his employer at the time gave him to take a ‘career break’ to go farming.

“We made the difficult and emotional decision to sell our farm at Violet Town in 2011,” he explains. “I always looked back on my childhood on the farm with a romantic view. What I learned quickly into my tenure as a farm-hand was that in reality, farming can be a really tough gig.”

“A lot of hard decisions need to be made and you never really have a day off, your mind is constantly on the job. The experience gave me a much deeper understanding of the hard work involved in running a commercial farming operation, and I’m very grateful for everything the farm manager and my fellow farm-hands taught me.”

This renewed perspective, Jack believed, would serve him well in his new role at Rabobank, helping build further empathy and understanding with his clients.

As someone who enjoys a challenge and problem solving, he said the opportunity to use a totally different, practical part of his brain was refreshing.

“In the corporate world, there are systems to solve any problem, but on farm you have to be proactive and efficient and figure it out yourself – there’s no IT department to call!”

Jack credits taking time out to work as a farm-hand as one of the best decisions of his life, and one that will continue to pay dividends.

 “I loved getting back on the tools, building knowledge and increasing my skillset. I learned so much and it gave me a much greater appreciation of what our farm managers and business owners go through on a daily basis.”

Excited to work with local farmers in the Bendigo region

Now just over a month into the role, Jack is enjoying meeting clients across the region, and fellow Rabobank staff.

“I noticed the terrific culture within Rabobank in week one – so many people reached out to me to introduce themselves, it was a small gesture from them that made a huge impact on me.”

Rabobank’s “independent and mature” approach when it comes to managing its people was also extremely appealing, its hands-off approach a rarity in the current world.

“At Rabobank there’s a real sense that I’m a business owner, and that I can drive my own success and that of my clients, backed by the bank’s wealth of resources such as RaboResearch and experienced team members.”

One of Jack’s main aims in his new role is to build a strong, and trustworthy rapport with his clients and to continue learning.

“I don’t pretend to know everything, and I am honest about what I know, and what I don’t – and I’m certainly not afraid to ask a silly question! I’m hungry to learn and that has been well received by my clients so far.”

“I want to build genuine relationships. I want to know not just my clients’ business goals and aspirations, but also their interests away from the farm. The relationship side of this role is what I enjoy the most.”

He’s also looking forward to working in an exceptional team, particularly alongside analyst Jack Woodward and Area Manager Leon Fennell.

“Leon has so much expertise, and Jack is a great young operator. I think we are already making a great team, Jack and I are getting out on farm together and I'm learning a lot from him – he is very passionate about the ag space and I'm looking forward to watching his career progress.”

“The Bendigo region has such a rich diversity of commodities, and some really exciting farm businesses. It’s also a wonderful place to live and work, and I want to continue to promote this. I feel really privileged to be supporting such a great community, and grateful that my path has led me to exactly where I’m supposed to be.”

Jack will be out and about at a number of upcoming events such as the Elmore Field Days and KareeWool Conference, and is looking forward to meeting more of the community there.