PR - TRAINING FARM MANAGEMENT CONSULTANTS: A CASE STUDY FROM NEW ZEALAND
New farm consultants can be expensive to train, both financially and in terms of the time required. The aim for new consultants is to develop a ‘full book’ of clients to become economically viable as quickly as possible. While research into farm consultancy processes can assist with training, trainees also need to develop expertise in farm consultancy. A case study of a consultant with four years’ experience was conducted to gather information on the training of farm consultants. This paper reports on the consultants development of professional expertise and a‘full book’of clients.
The study found that there was an emphasis on ‘learning-by- doing’. Developing expertise involved progressing from simpler to more complex problems and farming systems. This occurred while moving from supervised work to working with farmer groups and project work, before working independently with clients. The reputation of both the consultancy firm and the trainee and the trainee’s social capital, within and outside the firm, were critical to building a client base. This study has made explicit the process of developing professional expertise, including key factors in building a client base, which maybe valuable for other trainee farm consultants and their firms.
Keywords: farm consultants, training, social capital, farmers, expertise, farm management