My journey to helping farmers farm on the front foot

By Munya Chitongo

I never really knew the meaning of the quote “if you have a job you love, you will never work a day in life” until I started working for Figured. You don’t have to look far to see some of the great examples of people who love their jobs, such as Richie McCaw, Elon Musk, Dan Carter, to mention only a few – so, I’m in pretty good company!

How did I end up with a role at a farm financial management software company? First of all, you will have to understand my background. I am originally from Zimbabwe, and emigrated to New Zealand over 11 years ago. As a 19 year old at the time of my arrival, I had to quickly get a job if I wanted to move out of my parents home as well as stay in New Zealand legally. At the time, the only industry that guaranteed me of a work permit was dairy farming.

I didn’t know what I was signing up myself for, but because my father had worked on a dairy farm for over two years in Ranfurly, the game was simple. I just needed to work on the farm for more than two years so I could beat my dad’s record – and, as I would say to myself, “if my dad can do it, then I can do it too”.

Getting my hands dirty

So, without wasting time, I found a job on a dairy farm close to Methven through a recruitment agency. At first it was tough, considering I had never milked a cow in my life, not to mention having to adjust to the extreme cold temperatures of the South Island with early starts (cups on at 4am) and late finish.

I still remember planning my Christmas holiday thinking the farm would be closed only to be told that I was getting the cows that morning. I have to admit, I had a return ticket home and often thought of returning, but I would remind myself about the political and economical environment back home, and that going back wasn’t an option.

This only meant one thing: toughen up and adapt to my new environment.

Learning the business of farming

Fast forward two years, I was managing a dairy farm in charge of looking after 1050 cows. That was an accomplishment in my view, having the boss’s trust in looking after his most prized possessions. During my time working on the farm, I learnt so many valuable lessons and skills, most of which are also practical outside of farming.

I learnt that dairy farming wasn’t just milking cows, but was also a numbers game due to the volatility of the industry. As a farmer, you had to have a book and a pen, especially during calving season, to make sure you recorded all the births and deaths. The funny thing is that I didn’t know how important that little book was until my boss lost it in the paddock during calf drafting one day. You could tell that he had lost something precious because he immediately offered anyone who found the book $100. Those who know farmers well will know they don’t offer money just for nothing. Furthermore, my boss was constantly travelling to meet with the accountant and the bank. He didn’t like travelling as it took him away from actually working on the farm.

From farming to…fashion!

Fast forward again a couple of years later, I left the farm, studied fashion design – yes, that’s right, fashion – and then a Bachelor of Commerce degree. I envisioned using my commerce degree to get a job in the agricultural industry, so when I saw this opportunity at Figured, I didn’t hesitate to grab it.

In my first week at Figured, I called my ex-boss on the farm and I told him about why he should be managing his farm with Figured. I reminded him about the time he lost his livestock book, and yes, I also mentioned the many times he complained about travelling to town to meet up with the accountant and bank. Figured eliminates all that and gives farmers and their farming team readily available, accurate information in real time without having to wait for days or months.

Helping farmers farm on the front foot

Figured users don’t have to worry about losing data as it’s all stored in the cloud, which also means you can log on anywhere in the world to see how the farm is performing.

Figured allows farmers to get back to doing what they do best. The collaboration functionality in Figured enables the rest of the farming team (farm consultants, accountants and banks) to be kept in the loop to access the information in Figured only by invite from the account owner.

Having seen first-hand the challenges that farmers face, I understand how valuable Figured can be when it comes to managing your farm finances. This is “farming on the front foot”, ladies and gentlemen, and I’m proud to be a part of it!


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