How Agriculture has helped shape me

Dave O’Brien has a unique outlook on his career to date. At times, he’s found himself in limbo, unsure of what the next move may be. Once he entered agriculture he’s been able to really define who he is, what he is passionate about and where he wants to have an impact.

With a Bachelor’s degree of Agricultural Science under his belt and a job in Agriwebb, from the outset it seems as if a career in agriculture was a kind of natural progression for Dave O’Brien. 

Nothing could be further from the truth, however. As a city-kid through and through, Dave’s closest connection with anything regional was the fact that his Dad grew up in Lithgow. That, and his love of The Man from Snowy River. 

He finished school and felt lost on where to go next. That’s when his sister, who was working in the television industry, asked him if he’d like to come and work on their upcoming show. 

“You learn a lot of weird and wonderful things, a lot of life lessons in that industry,” Dave said, “and you work really really hard.”

“It was lots of fun. And I got to meet some different celebrities and work on The Voice and some of those shiny floor shows, which was cool.”

“But I guess I got to a point of just understanding that it wasn’t my passion.”

Dave laughs as he recounts the time that he realised this. He was out in the scrub somewhere as it was pouring rain shooting “one of those cheesy murder documentaries.”

“And I remember standing there in this leech infested part of the bush holding an umbrella over the cameraman’s lights while I was getting drenched in the storm and just going, what am I doing here?”

So, after five years in television, Dave found himself flipping through the University of Sydney course outlines. 

“A few of my friends laugh when I say this but I found the Bachelor of Science in Ag and looking through it and smiling and thinking this is what I want to do.”

It was a big period of uncertainty for Dave as he was working out where he wanted to go in his career and also more personally, as he was finding his place in his life and his sexuality. 

“I definitely had a support network,” he said, “my family is incredibly close and my friendships are really strong. But I think it was something that I couldn’t put my finger on. So it wasn’t necessarily something that I knew to reach out to people for or to ask them for advice on.”

“I think it was genuinely just a moment of, well, several moments of, this limbo feeling.”

It was while Dave was finishing his degree and looking for placements that his mate suggested Agriwebb, a farm management software company.

“I walked in and just felt that ‘oh yeah, this is where I fit.’”

Three years later and his time at Agriwebb has long extended a uni placement. 

“I pride myself on the fact that I didn’t grow up in the country, but I’ve got a really good handle on what our producers and our farmers want and need and how they’re living their lives.”

“And a lot of that comes from listening. Just hearing the struggles that they’re going through, or you know, the highs and the lows, and just wanting to learn as much as I can.”

This ability to listen and reflect is one of Dave’s most valuable learnings, both in the ag world and personally.

“I’ve been seeing a psychologist for many, many years and over that time I can definitely see a big change.”

“I’ve gone from a person who was quite anxious, lacking confidence and now a person who can be comfortable in their own space.”

“I think if I had any advice it would just be to push through, feel your way through, experiment, fail, succeed, and just know that it was all supposed to happen.”

Listen to Dave’s podcast on your favourite podcast or the link below:

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