Meet Lexi Cesnik

31 March 2017

On the eve of completing her two-year Future Livestock Consulting Internship, MLA caught up with Lexi Cesnik, 25, to talk about her experience in the program, working in a shared internship with Sally Martin Consulting and Moses & Son in the Riverina region of NSW.

What prompted you to apply for the internship program?

I grew up on a farm at Tarcutta and studied a Bachelor of Agricultural Science at Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga. As a university graduate, the options to work in livestock consultancy seemed very limited. Government departments weren’t taking on new interns, and I wanted to do more than work in a stock and station agency, which seemed to be the only option when I finished my degree.

When I found out about the FLC program, it seemed too good to be true. I knew I wanted to work in research and project management, rather than in a role with a sales focus, and I wanted to work with producers on production goals. The FLC program has really allowed me to find my niche in life - I feel very privileged and lucky.

What has your internship involved?

My role with Sally Martin Consulting has been as project officer for a supplement trial that Sally was running. That involved liaising with potential producers and supplement suppliers and ongoing data collection. A lot of my work has been on-farm data collection and then data analysis back to the producer.

With Moses & Son, my role has involved writing their business plan, which has been ongoing, and helping with marketing.

It has also involved extension work, so if there’s a field day coming up, I help organise it and also present information to producers.

In both roles, I spend most days dealing with producers, whether it be at a workshop, out on-farm or talking to them about data we’ve collected.

What have been your key learning experiences during the internship?

Before I started the internship, I hadn’t had a lot to do with electronic identification systems (eID). I’ve now had the opportunity to learn all about eID - from electronic fleece weighing through to body weighing and muscle scanning. Sally is involved in sire evaluation programs and productivity trials so I’ve helped with electronic data capture, data analysis, and manipulating that data to present a producer with the information they need.

I’d never written a business plan before either, so it was new territory for me as well. I’m grateful that Moses & Son’s managing director, Marty Moses, gave me the opportunity to develop their business plan.

I’ve also had to present information at workshops. Standing up in front of a crowd of people and supplying them with information and answering their questions is probably one of the other great experiences I’ve had within the internship.  

What skills do you think you have brought to the businesses you’ve worked with?

It might sound a little bit kitsch, but I think passion and drive are two things young people can bring to a business. When I first started the internship, I was like a kid in a candy shop, I was so excited and this job seemed too good to be true. I was eager to learn, work really hard, and try to earn the respect of the people I’m working with.

Also, I’d like to think that Sally and Marty have been able to delegate work to me which has allowed them to have more time for their clients. Once the relationships were established and I had a certain knowledge base, they knew they could delegate tasks to me.

You mentioned technology - how important is technology when it comes to your work?

Everything from our office work, through to data collection, is done electronically. Passing on that knowledge to producers has been part of my role, and moving forward, precision management consultation with producers is what I’ll be specialising in.

A lot of producers haven’t taken on precision management in their operations, and part of that is due to the uptake of technology. Producers need to know how it works and how to make the most of it.

Recording data electronically might take a few more minutes in the paddock than manually recording it, but those extra few minutes ultimately save you an hour in the office later on.

Is it challenging for young people to get a start in a career in agriculture today?

I’m part of a project looking at pathways for young people into all agricultural industries, not just livestock. A survey found 60% of the cotton industry hire private consultants to help them, other than their agronomist. However, only about 10-15% of livestock producers hire a consultant. I think that’s because until very recently, the industry relied on government departments to supply this information for free and they did. Like the majority of ag industries, livestock extension is moving into the private sector.  I think there’s going to be a little bit of lag where producers need information or advice and recognise that it’s worth paying for. And that comes back on consultants like me - we have to justify producers’ spending money for the right information and expertise. Our job is to make sure the information we give them becomes a viable business decision for them.

What’s the next step in your career?

I will be full-time with Moses & Son as their livestock consultant once the internship finishes and I’ll continue to collaborate with Sally and she’ll still be my mentor. 

Potential interns interested in joining the program can contact Program Manager, Ben Reeve, from Meridian Agriculture on 0416 127 465 or 03 5341 6100, or email: BReeve@meridian-ag.com.au.

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