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GROWing as a Graduate: Hello, James Thompson!

Getting started on one's career is definitely a significant life milestone. But how does one pick out which career path makes the best use of the talents, skills and interests already in place whilst ensuring optimal opportunities for development and progress along the way? Well, there is no magic formula, but here at BASF, we believe that providing the right environment to explore different career options within BASF's myriad business units and functions is the best way to help our GROW Graduates....blossom!

If there is a phrase to best describe our third GROW Graduate for the year, it would be 'the great outdoors' as James Thompson is certainly someone who lives for outdoor adventures. This 25-year-old from Silvan, Victoria, had a huge 'playground' growing up as his family home was just next door to a cherry orchard. It was also at this young age that James learnt about agriculture and horticulture, allowing him to develop an appreciation for farming by experiencing various aspects and roles within the industry.

James Thompson

Growing up next to an orchard meant that James' first job whilst he was still a teen was selling beverages at the orchard, which then developed into him selling cherries from that orchard at markets and wholesalers across Victoria and even a stint working at the Yering Station winery in the Yarra Valley, where he honed his skills in growing Chardonnay and Pinot grapes whilst still studying. 

After completing his secondary education, James completed a Master of Earth Science degree, with a focus on Applied Mathematics and Atmospheric Science at the University of Melbourne. It's certainly a very specialised discipline and his thesis postulated the effect of the sensor spatial resolution on the quantification of wheat field photosynthesis, tapping on both of his experience in agriculture and technical knowledge. It was towards the tail end of his studies that he realised that a position with an organisation like BASF would best suit his interests, qualifications and experience.

James shares, "When I first considered where I would apply for my first postgraduate job, I gravitated towards consulting and IT companies. However, a family friend recommended I apply to BASF's GROW Graduate program and the more I found out about it, the more I realised that there are roles within Agriculture Division that best allow me to combine my interest and experience in agriculture with my knowledge and academic background in math and physics."

"I started my first rotation in February with the Customer Service function in the Agriculture business units, which mainly focused on identifying challenges and then improving the efficiencies for the benefit of our clients. It's still a pretty new experience, but I love the fact that I'm able to go 'behind-the-scenes' to see how the team in an organisation like BASF proactively observes, engages and troubleshoots issues for small-time farmers and farming corporations alike to ensure that they are performing at their best all the time," he adds.

In his time at BASF, he's noticed that figuring out colleagues' preferred communication channels and styles are key when it comes to ensuring seamlessness and continuity in business operations, saying, "Whilst the younger generation and my peers tend to be comfortable communicating almost entirely through text messages or internal chatting platform, some people prefer phone calls and face-to-face conversations to effectively communicate." 

James continues, "For my second rotation I will be assigned to Tamworth, BASF's agriculture research facility in the northwestern region of NSW. I will be involved in a research project for an app developed by BASF named xarvio® SCOUTING, which farmers can use to snap pictures for data collection and even diagnose weeds and diseases impacting key broadacre crops. From what I understand, a simple photo of a crop can help detect things like in-field stress, leaf damage, nutrient deficiencies, presence of pests and so on, which represents a great digital transition in our field. I'm personally very excited to be involved in this different yet related aspect of the farming industry."

When we mentioned that James has a serious passion for the outdoors, we definitely weren't only referring to his interest in agriculture, but also what he does with his personal time (no, it's not farming!). James is a bona fide adrenaline addict, as he has an intense passion for a wide range of outdoor activities; surfing, mountain biking, swimming and even competing in a triathlon! Even when not out in the open, he enjoys hitting the road or going off-road with his trusty 4WD, cruising around national parks, traversing the beach or even heading up hills and mountains, all the while counting his blessings to be in Australia, a land with no shortage of outdoor adventures!

With a great start to his tenure with BASF already in place, we would like to take the opportunity to wish James all the best for his next role, where he will continue to be able to apply his knowledge, passion and perspectives to help improve BASF's range of agricultural solutions.