You are here

Agriculture is booming across the country, whether on the prairies of western Canada or on the fields of southern Ontario. However, it's important to know that agriculture is more than just farming. The industry couldn't survive without the businesspeople who run food and fertilizer production, equipment manufacturing, and even marketing. With agribusiness students landing two or three job offers post-graduation, agriculture undoubtedly is thriving not only in Canada, but worldwide.

Agribusiness at the University of Guelph

It's an industry with a bright future because obviously everybody eats everyday and people will continue to eat. What's changing is what people are eating, says Sylvain Charlebois, associate dean of grad studies and research, College of Management and Economics at the University of Guelph on the current state of the agriculture industry.

The university offers a two-year part-time MBA with a specialization in food and agribusiness management with an optional major research paper on a topical issue related to their field. We train them on how to deal with uncertainty, deal with the new normal in these areas, says Charlebois. What I mean by that is how unpredictable some of the elements are these days  and executives have to make decisions very quickly based on little or imperfect information.

Charlebois says with the MBA, there are agribusiness opportunities in processing, distribution, and wholesaling, as well as the demand in the production side of nutrients, grain handling, and genetics. Additionally, he adds many students go into the service sector fields in marketing, advertising, and consulting.

The world of agribusiness and agriculture is becoming this big global mosaic, which needs better understanding, says Charlebois. In order to understand, you need data and you need knowledge, and to acquire knowledge you go through our program.

Hands-on experience

Alltech Canada is a leading company in the animal health and nutrition industry stationed in Guelph, Ontario and employing over 200 people nationwide. Their foundation is based on science and, in turn, translates to improved nutritional value to food and animal feed.

In 2012, the company introduced the Alltech Career Development Program, a global competitive program, accepting only 20 graduates worldwide'two being Canadians'in its first cycle. The successful graduates take part in the 12-month paid mentorship program with extensive training on sustainable energy, marketing, and international business. Our president, Dr. Lyons, is very education-driven so he's always looking for ways to stay involved with the schools, says Jeremy Thiel, Canadian marketing manager at Alltech Canada. Of the 20 [graduates], 19 have signed on for additional contracts.

Alltech's Career Development program is designed to give graduates the opportunity to work with industry professionals in marketing, aquaculture, business and biotechnology, as well as other specialists in the field of science. We're always looking for sharp people who are interested in innovation and technology, so that's where this program had come from, says Thiel, [to] give postgrads real-life experience and give them the opportunity to work for [Alltech], one of the leaders in this industry.

With the second annual Career Development Program set to commence in February, Thiel says it's an exciting time for agriculture and agribusiness. We focus on efficiency, profitability, and we focus on sustainability, he says, mentioning Alltech Canada is looking to increase its dairy-focused sales force and hire young consultants. The opportunities are endless.

Photo: prudkov/Thinkstock