Farming careers: Farm machinery product manager

Dan Halliday is a global product manager for precision farming at New Holland, based in Burr Ridge, Chicago.

He was born and bred in Leicestershire and finds himself in the US after working his way through the company over the past eight years. The world of agricultural engineering has opened up possibilities that he never imagined.

Dan has been working in Illinois for just over two-and-a-half years and has responsibility for managing the full portfolio of New Holland’s precision farming products.

See also: Ways to make yourself more employable in agriculture

Dan Halliday

Dan Halliday, global product manager for precision farming at New Holland

What the job involves

His job involves new product development, working with other product managers to make sure everything integrates correctly with the company’s range of machines and offering support as new products are rolled out, to give customers the best experience.

It can be complex stuff – working with computer systems, sensors, software engineers and electrical experts.

But Dan also has a simpler way of summing up what he does and why he’s so passionate about precision farming technology. “I’m helping to make better and more efficient kit, which will help to feed the world.”

Route into the job

Dan always knew he wanted to work in agriculture, but with no family farm to join he says he had to “think outside the box” about his career.

He studied agriculture at the University of Reading and his first job was as an investigations officer for the Farm Business Survey based in Reading.

This involved management accounting, analysing business data from 55 farms in Herefordshire.

After two years in the role he felt he needed a new challenge, so he moved to Oakes Bros, a New Holland dealership, as an area sales manager and combine harvester specialist operating across Oxfordshire and north Berkshire. At that stage the machinery bug really took hold.

In 2008, he took the decision to move to New Holland UK, first taking a job as a product specialist for precision farming and then adding combine specialist to his portfolio. It confirmed his view that he really wanted to work with technology.

However, it was a month-long trip to Australia in October 2009, travelling with an old university friend, that really changed his life.

He fell in love with the country and when a new role came up for New Holland in Australia, he jumped at the chance.

He threw himself into his new role as product manager for precision farming for Australia and New Zealand and made his mark.

But despite being very settled in his new home in Sydney, two years later when the global role came up in the US he knew that he had to put himself forward.


Dan strongly believes that one of the things that has helped him most in his career is his strong communication skills, which he honed when he was chairman of the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs from 2007-08.

“The job gave me confidence and was a great way of learning how to speak to people and negotiate with them. It gave me a whole set of skills, which I learned for free, yet I use them every single day.

It is something I would 100% recommend from a personal and career-development perspective.”

He maintains that travelling for work has opened doors that remain closed to the casual tourist. “When you meet people you have something in common – agriculture.

I’ve found the local people see your passion and as a result take you to the best places in the world. Because there is a link, you find yourself with your own personal tour guide.”

Dan says while he has worked and lived in three different English-speaking countries on three different continents they have all been very different. However, he feels his biggest achievement is taking the challenges this has posed head-on.

In Australia he helped to build several dealerships into some of the most successful in the world. “Going to a new country was daunting. You have to be careful about how things are done and find a way of earning people’s respect and building a team. You can’t be the person who turns up and says: ‘Well this is how we do it in Britain’.”

Career opportunities

The opportunities for rewarding careers in the machinery manufacturing sector and other allied industries are huge, he says.

And many of them are global companies with the infrastructure in place to support people as they develop their careers and move them around in order to grow.

Dan’s goal is to keep making the kit that farmers across the world use better and better. He says his job suits his love of technology and interacting with people, and he wants to play a positive role in changing and improving farming systems. “It’s a perfect mix.”

Dan shows what can be achieved with ambition and a willingness to take opportunities when they come. He still works for the brand he began with in the UK, but has forged a new life in the US and that is where he now calls home.

Skills you need for Dan’s job

  • Communication and people skills
  • Practical knowledge of global agribusiness and farm machinery
  • Self-motivation and organisation skills
  • Business management skills
  • Negotiation skills
  • Degree in agriculture or related science and technology
  • Willingness to travel

New Holland

How many people does the business employ?

The company employs about 600 people in the UK, including those working in manufacturing.

Key areas in which the business recruits?

Manufacturing, sales, marketing and service roles.

Any minimum requirements?

The company recruits graduates or people can come straight from A-level to do an apprenticeship.

Graduate or apprenticeship scheme?

There is no graduate scheme, but many of the interns are graduates. There is also an apprentice scheme. There are about 10 interns and apprentices each year.

Where can people find out more details about the scheme?

Details can be found on New Holland’s website.

Does it employ people from non-farming backgrounds?

Yes. Many of the roles on offer do not require a farming background.


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