A Career With Open Country

Sarj Singh, Open Country’s newest and youngest Milk Supply Manager, says he was always destined to have a career in the agricultural industry, but a chance meeting with a friendly Open Country manager on Sarj’s family farm helped seal his path.

Sarj is the fourth generation of his family to be involved in dairy farming in the Waikato,  his wider family also owns several dairy farms in the region. His family farm is situated in Tauhei, just outside of Morrinsville, where they milk 250 cows.

“A lot of Open Country suppliers in the Waikato will know my family and I might be a familiar face to many of them,” says Sarj. “Our family farm has supplied Open Country for about five seasons now and that’s how I got involved in the business and discovered the role of a Milk Supply Manager,” says Sarj.

What does that guy do?

After completing a Bachelor of Agri-Commerce at Massey University, majoring in International Agri-Business, Sarj was helping on the family farm when Open Country Milk Supply Manager Tim Sandbrook visited his father.

“Tim looks after all my family, including my cousin’s farms. I had finished studying but I wasn’t entirely sure where I wanted to go next. I was listening to them talk and after Tim left, I asked dad; ‘What does that guy do?’.”

Interested in finding out more, Sarj went to the next Open Country supplier meeting and listened to the company updates and the advice the Milk Supply Managers provided to suppliers. When Open Country advertised the opportunity for graduates to join under their management grad programme, Sarj jumped at the opportunity. After completing 18 months training at Open Country’s head office, Sarj felt like he was ready to make the big step to apply for the role of Milk Supply Manager. For the team at Open Country, Sarj was the perfect candidate, he had already shown his professional skills and passion for the industry and was willing to learn.

Focused on building relationships

“I enjoy being out in a farmer facing role and building relationships. The Milk Supply Manager role provides me with the perfect mix. I can get out of the office during the week meeting farmers, and I can also go home to help on the farm on the weekends,” says Sarj.

He enjoys that the job means he is always learning and there are always new developments.

“I like keeping up with what is happening in both the New Zealand and the international milk markets and have a keen interest in what’s happening with the economy and in the environmental space. This role provides me with the opportunity to share these passions with our farmer suppliers and help them to get the best returns for their milk,” says Sarj.

sarj in the office 2

Stepping up to the challenge

“The role of a Milk Supply Manager means no two days are the same. I like the focus we have on supporting our suppliers and that we offer a more personal approach,” says Sarj.

As COVID-19 restrictions are lifting Sarj can get out more and meet suppliers face-to-face.

“COVID-19 definitely put a hold on things for a while but now I’m out organising meetings with our suppliers again and going through payment predictors and any questions they might have. We’re always trying to give our suppliers the best and most up to date information we have,” says Sarj.

The future looks bright for Sarj, both with Open Country and on his family farm. Open Country are excited and proud to be able to help young rural professionals develop and be part of the future of the dairy farming industry.