Graduate Testimonials

The student experience

James Kmet

James Kmet, MBA Graduate

I currently live in Sydney. Originally from Adelaide, South Australia, I have lived and worked throughout Australia and overseas for many years. I graduated with an MBA (International Business and Marketing majors) from UNE in April 2011. This degree provided me with greater exposure and understanding of domestic and global issues that affect me, my workplace and many of the organisations that I have a direct and indirect association with. The course's focus on government, NGO and private sectors was most valuable as it highlighted the complexities, differences and synergies between them. The vast majority of my study directly correlated with a range of functions within my workplace, both in Australia and overseas. This has included marketing, international business, HRM and L&D fields.

Two of the best things about studying with UNE were that the teaching quality and administrative support provided by staff was always first-rate. This was essential for a course delivered by distance Learning. UNE has a strong commitment to incorporating a technological approach in support of its 'real-life' students.

Another is the flexibility of the course within a structured parameter and the ability to apply a majority of the units to one's workplace and life. UNE's ongoing support and flexibility has been demonstrated on numerous occasions since I enrolled with them in 2003. This included studying during relocations around Australia, an under-graduate 'L&D' course while working in Iraq, and highly relevant post-grad marketing units while working in Afghanistan. I cannot thank UNE enough for providing me with the opportunity, the resources and the motivation to continue studying (and applying my studies) under these circumstances.

UNE's high standards and unwavering support over the years significantly influenced my decision to enrol into my third UNE course. I have now commenced a Master of Strategic Organisational Development this year. I have certainly become an advocate-of-sorts for any form of post-secondary education for the people in my workplace(s), thanks mostly to what UNE has taught me about education and life.

Martin Wren

Martin Wren, Graduate

In praise of the Postgraduate program: "My organisation supports people with moderate disability to find and keep work. My concern was that my clients, amongst the most disadvantaged of the unemployed, would be hardest hit by economic woes due to the Global Financial Crisis. My clients for example are people with Down's syndrome, moderate intellectual disability, profoundly deaf etc. I accelereated this year's study program, covering 3 units as quickly as I could, in response to this. I implemented an integrated marketing program based on my studies in marketing and e-commerce.

Last month saw the single greatest number of people placed into work since the program began. We saw an increase in direct income of over $150,000 for the month, a great return on the fees for this unit. Yesterday I spent some time with the family of one of the young people who is now employed - their joy and appreciation was priceless."

Usha Pappu

Usha Pappu, Graduate

In giving her vote of thanks at her graduation, Usha made the following comments:

"When I start reflecting on my experience as a UNE student, I certainly can say there were stressful times when I thought I should give up the study and get on with my life and family. Having said that there were many joyful moments. I am glad I persevered. I was over the moon every time I received a distinction or a high distinction grade for my courses. Those particular moments created some of the most emotional responses I had ever experienced, other than holding my children in my arms for the first time.

I thank each and every member of the academic staff at the Faculty of the Professions. You made our learning experience so memorable, distinguishing and long lasting. We have been able to apply many of the principles we had learnt in our degrees at work.

I would like to personally thank each member of the UNE Business School staff who helped me along the way in completing my degree. You are efficient, prompt and your service is outstanding. Being an off-campus student I do not recall a single situation where I felt frustrated or thought I was not being served enough."

Brigadier Gerard Fogarty

Brigadier Gerard Fogarty AM, MBA Graduate

Gerard Fogarty served in Timor Leste in 2002 as commander of the Australian Contingent and for this was appointed a Member in the Military division of the Order of Australia. In 2008 he served in Iraq as Commander of the Australian Forces in the Middle East.

"With four children under four and trying to learn the complexities of staff work within Army headquarters I had little spare time to devote to study. However, I wanted to complete an MBA and selected UNE because it offered the flexibility to balance my competing work/life processes with a mature and relevant distance education program.

The course developed my critical thinking skills and extended my understanding of organizational behavior and human resource management. The knowledge I gained assisted me greatly as a Commanding Officer and has continued to do so in a range of subsequent staff and command appointments. It has enable me, as a direct result, to add value to strategic policy development within Defence."

Brad Roberts

Brad Roberts, MBA Graduate

After graduating with an MBA in 2008, and weathering the global financial crisis, I came to work as National HR Manager for Cargotec Corporation. This is a Finnish company of approximately 10,000 employees worldwide, specializing in cargo handling equipment.

Cargotec has recently offered me a two year Global Assignment in Helsinki, Finland as HRD Director, working on global Organisational Development projects. This is a fantastic opportunity, and I am aware that the MBA has played a large part in my success. Firstly, from a qualification perspective – the Finns really do value post-graduate education and the MBA was well regarded in the assessment process. Secondly, and more importantly, it was due to the depth that the MBA has added to my professional capabilities and thinking.

It is only now that I am beginning to appreciate the difference that undertaking the MBA process has made, and it has certainly paid off for me.

Sarah Rutledge

Sarah Rutledge Sales & Production Executive OBE                                                                                                Sales & Production Executive | OBE Organic

UNE Bachelor of Agribusiness (Marketing & Management) Graduate
Where are you from?

I grew up on a sheep and cattle station south west of Quilpie in Queensland which has been in the Rutledge family for 100 years. I attended the School of Charleville Distance Education when I was in Primary school, and attended boarding school in Brisbane at St Margaret’s Anglican Girls School where I completed high school in 2007. When I completed high school, I worked in Financial Planning for 12 months while recovering from a bike accident, and after that I moved to the Northern Territory to take a job on Australian Agricultural Company cattle station Brunette downs (as Stock Staff)– and I fell in love with the Territory. Over the next three years I worked on:

  • Brunette Downs (AAco, Barkley Tableland)
  • Rockhampton Downs (run in conjunction with Brunette in 2009)
  • Gunbalanya Station (Arhnem Land, owned by Indigenous Lands Corporation)
  • Kirkimbie Station (Victoria River District, CPC)
  • Tipperary Station (Douglas Daley, Alan Myers)

After 3 years in the NT I decided I wanted to experience the beef industry from the other side of the table so I left the NT and moved back to QLD.

Why did you choose to study agribusiness at UNE, Armidale?

I chose to study Agribusiness because I am passionate about the industry I was born into! I really enjoy doing something that has long-term positive implications for graziers such as my family. After living in the isolation of NT cattle stations getting lost in a crowd didn’t appeal to me. UNE is a fantastic and reputable agricultural university with small classes and the opportunity to ‘fast’ track a degree through the trimester system.

What benefits did you get from your UNE degree?

One of the greatest assets I gained from UNE was a vast network of people, both students and lecturers who are all passionate about their respective industry. The academic professionals were fantastic! Most of the lecturers had extensive experience in the field they were teaching in and were more than happy to help out. I am still in contact with some of my university lecturers now and seek advice from them if needed in a professional capacity.

Would you recommend UNE to others considering undertaking study in Agribusiness?

I would definitely recommend UNE to anyone considering a future in the agricultural industry. Feeling like you are a part of something more, and not just a student number really helped me complete my studies.

Where are you now?

I am first year out and employed by OBE Organic as a Sales & Production Executive. I currently look after all Australian sales and also into the USA and Middle East, providing the opportunity to travel throughout America and the Middle East. I think it is an exciting time to be part of the Agricultural industry, there is a lot of potential for Australia to export a premium product, and we are becoming recognised as the best beef producers in the world.

UNE was very flexible as I had started full time work before graduating. I was as job ready as anyone can be when leaving university. Since I have started at OBE I have realised how many skills I learnt at UNE which have helped me with my career. The best experience I have learnt in the workforce is how far good time management can get you, studying at UNE, and being part of student life there, reinforced that lesson and helped me develop it for my career. I think learning to start things as early as possible and see them through to the end is a crucial life skill and something many graduates lack when they enter the workforce.

Abby Ettershank

Abby Ettershank Logistics Co-Ordinator at Fletcher International Exports                                                                                           Logistics Co-ordinator | Fletcher International Exports

UNE Bachelor of Agricultural & Resource Economics Graduate
Where are you from?

I grew up on the Murray River near Swan Hill on a purely irrigated sheep property. My family relocated to Gilgandra NSW in 2006 for mixed farming purposes with higher rainfall. I attended Kinross Wolaroi School, Orange NSW.

Why did you choose to study Agricultural and Resource Economics at UNE, Armidale?

The Agricultural & Resource Economics degree was an easy choice for me, as it combined the two passions of mine; Agriculture and Economics. At school I was always fascinated with how the global economy worked; how fiscal and monetary policy affected the Australian economy and further the global economy. My love for agriculture was stimulated by learning about stock prices and markets, and how changes in the economy affect agricultural prices. In year 12 I had a clear vision that I wanted to study Agricultural and Resource Economics. This degree was offered only at UNE and Sydney University. My love for the laid back country lifestyle and the choice of many colleges with great sporting opportunities made UNE an easy decision.

What benefits did you get from your UNE degree?

I certainly had the opportunity to work on my public speaking skills, as well as social and professional etiquette. Being part of a college environment gave me the ability to make lifelong friends with like-minded, driven young professionals. Sport was always highly encouraged and I loved participating in Fresher sports and representing Robb College in A-Reserve netball for 4 years. Social networking and word of mouth always provided opportunities of work experience and summer holiday work in agricultural enterprises.

Would you recommend UNE to others considering undertaking further study?

UNE offers a diverse range of courses with the ability to study online. Support and guidance was always offered to me throughout my studies as an internal student. Flexible study options allowed me to combine both internal and external study, the perfect combination.

Where are you now?

Given I spent the summer holidays of 2012 at Fletcher International Exports as a work experience student, in Aug/Sep of my fourth and final year (2014) I went back for an interview with Fletcher International Exports. From here I was guaranteed a job for early 2015. The job hunting process for me was very easy. I believe that if you have a true passion for the job, employers will see this and it will shine through in the application and job selection process.

I am now the Logistics Co-ordinator after only being employed at Fletcher International Exports for 9 months. My role is to organise the transport of agricultural commodities utilising privately owned locomotives from Dubbo, NSW to countries all over the world. The recent purchase of our own locomotives is a very substantial step forward in the ability to transport regional commodities for export. The opportunities this supply chain gives to regional NSW can only grow further, as international markets are becoming more exposed to the quality commodities we have to offer on an international market. I have learnt some very important personal attributes in a short timeframe also, the ability to be very organised, with exceptional time management skills and to deal with stressful situations!

Ultimately, my career aspiration is to become an international meat trader. The experience I have gained and will continue to build on in the logistics of moving such commodity will aid me to become a well-rounded international meat trader by having very good understanding of how such a commodity can start in a paddock and finish in an exotic dish on the other side of the world – the perfect example of paddock to plate!

Australian agribusiness is exposed to many international influences which gives us an exciting opportunity to utilise and adapt new technologies and efficiency techniques. After all, it is innovation that will allow Australian agriculture to continue to produce second to none, high quality produce that is admired around the world. The agricultural industry is transforming!

Max Vowell

Max Vowell  Junior Consultant | Brennan Mayne Agribusiness  UNE Bachelor of Agribusiness (Rural Science) Graduate                                                                                                   Junior Consultant | Brennan Mayne Agribusiness

UNE Bachelor of Agribusiness (Rural Science) Graduate
Where are you from?

I grew up in Roseville Chase, Sydney, where I went to school through to year 12 playing sport and living the life of a Sydney boy. I regularly went to the beach, or to the movies with friends. I always felt a strong affinity and love for the bush through a connection with my cousins who lived on a farm in Bundarra, NSW. I spent holidays working with cousins on the property and these are some of my best ever memories. After school I chased my passion for the bush and went jackerooing in NT and was then lucky enough to have the opportunity to run a stock camp in QLD for a further 2 years. The 4 years I spent working and living in the industry, fuelled my love for agriculture further with a strong passion for beef cattle. Realising I needed to further my education to be able to continue to develop a career in agriculture I went to UNE and studied a Bachelor of Agribusiness majoring in Rural Science.

Why did you choose to study Agribusiness at UNE, Armidale?

I chose UNE as it has a great reputation as an Agricultural university as well as a great community within the university. I knew people at the university who strongly recommended it, as well as I had strong friendships within the district. I chose a Bachelor of Agribusiness as I wanted to know more than the hands on concepts of agriculture and understand the importance of business within any enterprise.

What benefits did you get from your UNE degree?

From UNE I was able to make many great friends who are friends for life. UNE is also a great place to make connections as the agribusiness sector is the heart of rural NSW, I will have contacts with Alumni that I will be able to liaise with for the whole of my career. There is a strong alumni connection and I have already relied on it at work several times.

Would you recommend UNE to others considering undertaking further study?

I would most definitely recommend UNE to all who wish to study, the relationships I formed at UNE as well as the knowledge obtained I believe cannot be found elsewhere.

Where are you now?

I am currently a Junior Consultant in an agribusiness firm in Central Queensland. I was job-ready and had a job organised before I sat my final university exam. Also I was fortunate enough to have been employed before attending UNE, and was confident with the job application process. I had the luck of being in a position to choose between two jobs and was fortunate in that sense. This was due to the good reputation of UNE as well as confidence I gained in myself and in agriculture from UNE. Personally my best learning experience has been on the job. My advice to people is to own your mistakes and then work on not repeating them. My career goal is to become an Independent Consultant within the agribusiness industry. Overall I see an extremely busy and exciting agribusiness environment fuelled by globalisation, foreign investment, and most importantly passionate farmers.

Nathan Gilbody

Nathan GilbodyPartner | Roberts & Morrow Chartered Accountants

B Commerce – Finance and Banking & Financial Accounting
Where are you from?

I was born in Gunnedah, however grew up in Armidale. Having lived in various places over the past 15 years, I now live here and recently became a partner at Roberts & Morrow.

Why did you choose to study Commerce at UNE, Armidale?

I chose commerce as I had worked in business in the UK and found it interesting. You could say I ‘fell into’ accounting after talking to a fellow mature aged student at UNE, his advice was to take the prerequisite units required to undertake the Chartered Accounting Program after university. His perspective was that accounting played a huge part in all businesses and understanding it was crucial to making business decisions. UNE was an easy choice, I knew people who attended UNE as well as worked there and each person I spoke to was very positive about the university. The cost of living in Armidale was a lot cheaper so it made a lot of sense to stay here rather than burden myself living somewhere like Sydney or Brisbane.

What benefits did you get from your UNE degree?

I found my degree and course work quite practical, working and studying at the same time gave me the ability to apply what I was learning at UNE. Options to choose courses outside of the norm such as economic history also helped to keep me engaged. As a recognised university with the Institute of Chartered Accountants, it also gave me the pathway I needed to head into Chartered Accounting as a career.

Would you recommend UNE to others considering undertaking further study?


Where are you now?

I am currently living and working in Armidale, as a partner at Roberts & Morrow.

Angus Hancock

Angus Hancock Procurement Analyst Nestle Ltd Procurement Analyst | Nestlé Ltd

UNE Bachelor of Agricultural & Resource Economics Graduate
Where are you from?

I grew up on a beef property near Dungog, NSW in the Hunter Valley. When my older siblings started to reach High School age, my parents sold the property and moved to Newcastle. I think they thought we would be too naughty at boarding school! I moved to Sydney after high school where I started a Bachelor of Agricultural Economics, and have been in Sydney ever since. Growing up on a property gave me a keen understanding of the challenges and rewards of making a living off the land, and I always intended to go on and further my study in it. Significantly, a continued connection with the land also showed me the importance of environmental management and the dictatorial impact that environmental factors such as climate, pest control, land and soil management and biodiversity can play in agricultural production.

Why did you choose to study Agricultural Resource Economics at UNE, Armidale?

I had commenced my degree at Sydney University however for the non-ag subjects I always felt that the interaction with the lecturers was limited due to the overwhelming class sizes. I also wanted to switch to study by correspondence as I had a career opportunity come up that would require me to work full time. I had friends and family who had studied at UNE and had nothing but glowing praise. Upon transferring, I felt I finally got the student-teacher interaction I had always wanted, and that the focus of the studies was more skewed towards people who wanted to work in the commercial areas related to agriculture and the environment as opposed to just being a back-stop for those wanting to work in corporate finance.

What benefits did you get from your UNE degree?

By far the biggest benefit I got from UNE was the dedication of the teaching and academic staff. The lecturers were responsive to my keen interest in the subject matter, and always took the necessary time to help me understand some of the more difficult aspects. The mix of student backgrounds also meant that discussions were shaped by a diverse range of backgrounds and viewpoints, and we were able to help each other in our relative areas of strengths and weaknesses. Besides this, UNE is recognised as a leading academic institution in Agricultural & Resource Economics. Its reputation has played strongly in my favour as I have progressed through the various phases of my professional career.

Would you recommend UNE to others considering undertaking further study?

Without a doubt, UNE would be my FIRST recommendation to those wishing to undertake further study. Throughout the course of my dissertation, my supervisor went beyond his role to help me with all manner of issues. The academic expertise ensures that areas of study chosen for further study afford a meaningful contribution to the existing literature. From the point of view of someone working full-time in a demanding job, the flexibility of distance education means that you can achieve a work-life-study balance not achievable at on-campus only universities.

Where are you now?

I was lucky enough to gain experience on the way through my studies, however I found an excellent two-way feedback between my work and my studies. From a practical point of view, some of the subjects based on excel modelling meant that I was able to transcend the corporate ladder from novice to expert. From a theoretical point of view, gaining an understanding of the factors that shape market forces and agricultural production enabled me to advance my understanding of pricing structures in the industry; my work experience meant that I was able to take real-world examples back to the classroom to share with other students.

I was headhunted via LinkedIn for my most recent position. When I asked what had attracted the recruiter to my profile, she stated that students of Agricultural & Resource Economics were perceived to be intelligent with an excellent theoretical basis that could most often be expertly transferred to practical commercial applications.

My first taste of professional life was work experience with a demographic research agency, P4PS. This gave me a practical understanding of data collection and management, and drawing insightful meaning and trends from large panel data sets.

In 2011 I commenced an internship with Woolworths Ltd, where I remained for 4 years working my way up to Commercial Analyst focusing on fresh produce. Working for one of the largest players in the Australian food industry allowed me to see the theories of economics in practice and how demand and supply directly impact the prices and quantities of good bought and consumed by individuals.

I now work for Nestlé, the world’s largest food company, whose focus is to be a world leader in nutrition, health and wellness. Working for such a large multinational has allowed me to gain first-hand experience in many economic aspects such as foreign exchange movements, international law, agricultural and food regulations, and most importantly, the importance of economic, social and financial sustainability. Nestlé’s focus is on ensuring the continued sustainability of their supply chain, and their engagement on corporate and social responsibility in areas such as water, sanitation, health and education, has shown me the positive impact that can be achieved when industry experts devote their resources to the significant world issues.

Long term, my major career goal is to drive policy and commerce in agricultural sustainability. Through my career and studies I have gained a deep and concerned understanding of the necessity for environmental and social sustainability, especially in the field of agriculture. Significantly, I have seen the vital role that environmental sustainability plays in the financial sustainability of agriculture, both at a farm level and up to the broader macroeconomic ramifications of agriculture across developed and developing economies. As Australia and the rest of the world inevitably moves away from a carbon-emission driven economy, I would love to be part of the movement that ushers in sustainable agriculture as a long-term solution to ensure social equality, environmental protection and economic growth. I am fortunate enough to be employed by a company who understands the importance of these goals and stands ready to continue their contribution to these goals.

As the Procurement Analyst, I am responsible for the financial and commercial aspects of raw material procurement for a wide range of products manufactured in Australia for Nestlé Ltd. These range across categories such as spices, vegetables, grains, cereals, dairy and honey (to name but a few!) Beyond this, I am drive compliance in responsible sourcing for Nestlé through a stringent, independent internationally defined audit framework program (SEDEX 4 Pillar SMETA - to ensure that the source of our ingredients is a sustainable operation across a range of environmental and social metrics. I also represent Nestlé for the Australian chapter of the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Platform (SAI -, whose members come from some of Australia’s leading players in the food industry (including Coles Supermarkets, The Coca-Cola Company, Cargill, Dairy Australia, Agrifirm, Fonterra, and GRDC). The aim is to unify the scope and focus of agricultural sustainability across various sectors and firms to achieve greater efficiency in the activities undertaken.

Agriculture is a vastly untapped resource of potential economic growth for most economies, especially in the fact a projected population increases to around 10 billion. I think the focus will continue to be on efficiency and sustainability, especially given the climate change projections. Countries stand to benefit by research and development expenditure focused on their comparative advantages in production, and establishing mutually beneficial multilateral trade agreements. In the financial sector, the risks of increasingly volatile equities markets will be offset by financial derivatives based on underlying agricultural commodities; the increased focus and financial liquidity here will provide greater levels of risk mitigation for primary producers. Small scale and family farms will benefit from strategic succession planning, underwritten by broader tertiary education such as UNE’s Bachelor of Agribusiness and Bachelor of Agricultural & Resource Economics and Bachelor of Business/Bachelor of Agriculture. Precision farming will unlock efficiency gains. Ideally, research and development such as genetic modification will be increasingly funded by governments and undertaken by leading organisations such as CSIRO, allowing small scale farmers to benefit from reduced input usage (notably water, fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides) while providing developing economies a chance of dealing with increased population sizes and harsher climates. For graduates, qualifications in these areas will ensure a competitive edge in employment opportunities.