Job profile: What it’s like to work for an energy crop firm

Agricultural careers come in all different shapes and sizes, and can involve practical outdoors work as well as office-based tasks – perfect if you like a good variety in your working day.  

As an operations manager for an energy crop company, for example, you might be managing the logistics of getting bales from farm to furnace, hosting a farm walk or getting in the car to go and visit a supplier.

Farmers Weekly asked Alex Robinson of renewable energy firm Terravesta to explain what his job is like.

Alex Robinson

Alex Robinson manages the operations for energy crop supply chain Terravesta © Electric Egg

See also: Careers: What skills do agricultural employers really want?

Name Alex Robinson

Job title Operations manager

Company Terravesta – miscanthus supply chain specialists

Age 28

Sum up your job in a sentence or two

I manage the operations for Terravesta, an energy crop supply chain business.

This starts with designing the systems for sales and marketing, trying to attract new growers to plant miscanthus, through to the operations, which includes managing the logistics for more than 250 farms across the country, supplying bales into UK power and heat generation, as well as other markets including bedding.

What sort of things does this involve day to day?

Anything from visiting potential growers, overseeing the logistics of moving more than 15 loads a day into Brigg renewable energy power station in Lincolnshire, trying to keep our 250-plus farmers happy, managing and hosting farm walks and managing our PR and marketing activities.

What do you most enjoy about your job?

Being faced with new challenges almost every day, and mostly overcoming them.

What’s the downside?

Working long hours and racking up far too many miles in the car.

What percentage of your job is office based?

Roughly 30-40% of the job is office based, although this fluctuates seasonally depending on activity.

What skills and qualifications are essential to do the job?

Having the ability to learn quickly and good problem-solving is fundamental if you’re part of a start-up.

You need to be highly motivated and not put off by failure or changes if you wish to succeed in the long run. I had no relevant qualifications when I started.

What experience did you have before starting?

I had studied design at university but left in my first year.

I went on to work at a building company getting experience from the bottom up, project managing the conversion of Grade II listed barns into multiple dwellings.

We installed renewable technologies and this sparked my interest in the sector.

I had zero practical experience working in agriculture before I started at Terravesta.

What other careers did you consider?

I also started up a business I wanted to run since I was 20, converting a vintage double-decker London bus into a bar.

This is something I started with a friend, he now runs it full time going to weddings, music festivals, graduations and commercial events.

Other careers considered?

Musician, property development, photography and film-making.

What tips/advice would you give to someone wanting a similar role?

Get involved in any way you can, as early as you can.

Information and experience is invaluable.

Where would you see yourself in five years?

Hopefully working at a much bigger Terravesta, with thousands more hectares of miscanthus planted.

Give us an idea of the salary a new starter might expect

Anywhere between £20,000 and £25,000, depending on experience.

Finish this sentence: A career in agriculture…

… is one of the best ways to expose yourself to some of the most innovative, practical and intelligent people working in the UK while giving you the chance to contribute to a truly essential industry.