Like many others, Master of Management student Abraham Hito is interested in expanding his understanding of the different industries he can potentially work in post-graduation. He recently attended the Hort Connections conference where he was able to recognise the value of getting out of your comfort zone.
We last caught up with student Abraham a few weeks ago, about the roots he’s sewn at the Melbourne Business School (MBS). Now, he shares his experiences attending a horticulture conference in Brisbane, along with sound advice for his fellow students.
Tell us about the Hort Connections conference.
The conference is hosted by the Produce Marketing Association Australia-New Zealand Limited (PMA A-NZ) and AUSVEG, bringing together all the big players in the industry in one room: from farmers, retailers, packagers to supply chain managers. The three-day event is an opportunity to network, build working relationships, showcase new technologies and brainstorm ways to tackle common issues.
On the first day, we were shown around retail stores, how they differed from each other, and the strategic store layouts used to encourage people to buy fresh produce. We were also assigned a mentor, and I was lucky enough to be assigned an industry leader, who helped me fill in any gaps in my knowledge and walked me through the dynamics of the conference.
On the second and third day there were heaps of seminars on different topics centred around the horticulture business where we could choose the one we were most interested in – I attended the seminar around how technology can be used and implemented to improve existing processes within the industry.
Did you meet anyone that particularly stood out to you?
I met someone that works at Steritech, where they have developed the technology to treat produce with radiation. Off the bat, there’s often a negative perception when it comes to the word ‘radiation’, but in this scenario, they offer it to growers with the intent to combat disease, and treat fresh produce from contaminants with no associated harm to humans.
What are your main takeaways from the event?
What I noticed was the industry didn’t have as much technology exposure, but the good thing is they’re wholly open to it. In the first session I attended, the discussion was centred around technology disruption – an issue that isn’t new to a lot of students who have grown up with the term, but was news to a lot of people in the industry.
I feel like that’s a ripe opportunity for a lot of graduates to take their fresh perspective and aid the agricultural industry as it starts to technologically improve its processes. Conversely, a lot of graduates from MBS only have a narrow focus on commercial business – accounting firms, banks, consulting, etc. I myself felt locked into pursuing consulting as a career, but by attending this conference and taking part in other non-conventional opportunities, I now have a broader view of all the industries I can potentially jump into post-graduation. It’s eye-opening that there’s a whole other world out there.
This conference sounds very unique - how would you encourage other students to seek out these types of opportunities?
I found out about the conference from faculty emails – everyone has access to these opportunities, you just have to seek them out and say yes. What I’ve noticed is, especially since joining the Melbourne Business School Student Association (MBSSA), that my peers have pursued all types of opportunities during their time at MBS - you’d have the best chance of finding about these conferences from just being involved. Be open-minded about what’s out there and what you can learn.