Andrew finds a meaningful career in ag
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From the city to the bush, Andrew finds a meaningful career in ag

Category Our People

Brisbane born and bred, Andrew Flynn didn’t grow up in agriculture, in fact, a career in the rural industries was not something he ever envisaged – yet after an early career opportunity in the sector he now admits there’s no going back. 

“It’s the genuine nature of the people that really struck a chord, you see the blood, sweat and tears that go into so many farming businesses, which makes it even more rewarding to help these families achieve their goals and enjoy success.”

Andrew has worked in agribusiness banking extensively across regional Queensland and New South Wales, and in 2022 embraced the opportunity to work for Rabobank as a senior rural manager back in his home town.

And he believes the role reflects the perfect culmination of his career thus far.  

Learning the tools of the trade across rural Australia 

Despite not having a rural background, Andrew credits his secondary college at Brisbane’s Anglican Church Grammar School – and the boarders in particular – for piquing his interest in agriculture. 

“It was so valuable to have that exposure to country kids, and during school holidays I’d often venture out to their farms in western and northern Queensland.”

Andrew laughs that “too much time watching ‘Boston Legal’” guided his decision to study law and economics at university, however a graduate agribusiness program with one of the ‘big four’ banks proved an opportunity too good to pass up. 

“I was accepted into a grad program and moved to Toowoomba where I knew very few people and landed in a house with a guy I’d never met – and it was without a doubt the best decision I ever made.”

It was an opportunity that set his path for a career in agriculture, with exposure to people, places and industries he would never have otherwise experienced, and his flat mate – the son of a cotton grower from Wee Waa –  helped open up valuable networks and insights, and remains a best mate to this day. 

His time in Toowoomba was cut short however, with Andrew gaining a position in Inverell just three months into the program. 

“I spent one year in Inverell and really enjoyed working in the north west of New South Wales, gaining experience in cropping across the ‘golden triangle’ through to cattle in the Horton Valley and the surrounding areas.”

“It gave me really valuable exposure to mixed farming and cropping and livestock operations, and it was a good, fun community to live and work in.”

After 12 months Andrew moved across to Lismore, where, after just six months he was given a managers role.

“I was definitely thrown in the deep end, but I loved it and the northern rivers region is such a melting pot of sectors, from beef to macadamias, sugar cane to dairy, I spent three and a half years in Lismore and it was a terrific training ground.”

For the next four years, Andrew worked in the Grafton and Coffs Harbour region, in a complex senior role managing diversified agribusinesses both pre and post farm gate, and exposing him to an even greater diversity of industries, including hardwood and horticulture. 

“I earnt the reputation of being ‘a blueberry specialist banker’, with 50 percent of my portfolio consisting of blueberry farmers around Coffs Harbour, it’s so fascinating to reflect on where a career in agriculture can take you, and my time working across the northern rivers is testament to that.”

Andrew’s next career step was into an advisory and brokerage firm based in Tamworth, where he covered a client base across central and north west New South Wales.

Behind the scenes insights into banking 

The move into brokerage was an opportunity he embraced, and Andrew reflects that he enjoyed gaining a thorough understanding of how all the different banks operate.

“This was certainly my greatest take away working in brokerage. I had the privilege of first-hand insights into what banks can do, and it’s thanks to this role that I really started to notice all the value add opportunities Rabobank provided its clients.”

“I had no idea about the bank’s cooperative roots, and how this underpinned a strong community commitment to this day, including so many upskilling and knowledge-sharing opportunities for its clients and regional Australia.”

The role also gave him a unique opportunity to observe a wide range of banking professionals, and there was one thing that consistently stood out.

“The Rabobank staff I worked with were always happy, their positivity shone through and it was always extremely refreshing,” he reflects.

Working closely with Rabobank Armidale’s Scott Neilson and Kyle McDonald, he noticed how clearly the two enjoyed their roles, with their enthusiasm infectious.

Coincidentally, there was a Rabobank position being advertised in Brisbane, and with Andrew having just turned over ten years of a ten year regional plan, the timing seemed right. 

“I always said I wouldn’t return to Brisbane until I’d done ten years in the regions, but with my parents aging and suffering some health issues, and with such an enticing opportunity at Rabobank, it really felt like it was meant to be.”

The best of city and country in Brisbane-based role

Andrew embarked upon his Rabobank senior rural manager role almost a year ago, and having been a past observer, he can now personally attest to the bank’s culture. 

“From the outside looking in it always seemed like Rabobank staff and clients were really happy, that it was a great place to do business, and it’s this relationship-led approach that aligns with my own values, and what attracted me to banking in the first place.”

He applauds its unique priorities, whereby staff are encouraged to support, rather than compete, with each other. 

“In my own team, and across the wider organisation, everyone is happy to help each other, share knowledge and collaborate to ensure the best outcome, and it feels like the cooperative and community-based values also thrive within the whole organisation.”

Andrew admits he’s still learning about the Rabo Client Council, and the various community initiatives the bank supports across rural and regional Australia, although his first showcase of the ‘Rabo Difference’ at the Rabobank Farm2Fork Summit earlier this year “was mind-blowing”.

“I’ve never seen such an incredible event specifically intended for clients and staff to network, knowledge-share and be inspired by the innovation and ideas shaping our rural industries, it was truly phenomenal.”

Likewise, from dairy industry events, EKKA functions or the Macadamia Conference, he’s found it refreshing that Rabobank staff are given the time and encouraged to prioritise these occasions to further support their clients, and industry.

Andrew is enjoying the perks of city living back in his old stomping ground, and is blown away by Brisbane’s rate of development – yet covering a diverse client base spanning much of south east Queensland and NSW’s Northern Rivers, he’s relived it hasn’t quite lost its country charm. 

“The beauty of Brisbane is I can be in my office overlooking the river, and within the hour I can be out on-farm – there are not many opportunities where I can work from the city in an ag-based role, and still get to open a paddock gate or chat around a farmer’s kitchen table.” 

“Rabobank really does flip conventional banking on its head – rather than being tied to the office, we have to spend a minimum number of days on the road visiting clients, and I feel so empowered and trusted to do what’s best for my clients.”

Andrew is also making the most of the city’s golf greens, with the avid golfer having now played more than a few rounds on courses across regional Australia. 

And while they may not be as polished as the Brisbane courses, he said Australia’s bush courses will always hold a special place in his heart. 

“My absolute favourite is Orana Club Golf Course at Coutts Crossing in the Clarence Valley – it’s a tiny dot on the map that endured drought and was surrounded by fires in 2019, but throughout it all this community-run course remained looking so well maintained, the locals took so much pride in it to keep spirits up.”

“There’s no club house, and it’s an honesty donation system to play, and I just think this truly reflects the spirit of our rural and regional communities, and to be in a role where I can support these regions is a real privilege, and it certainly adds to a sense of purpose.”