This year we’ve been celebrating the International Women’s Day theme of #choosetochallenge and shining a spotlight on just a few of the inspiring women working in the Agricultural industry.
Meet Lauren Savage, one of our AGCO Apprentices working with Chandlers Farm Equipment at their Bristol branch. Here Lauren tells us her story about why she chose to take up an AGCO technical apprenticeship and shares advice for others interested in pursuing a similar career within this industry.
Tell us more about what your work role involves day to day within the Dealership?
In this industry, every day can be completely different. But my usual routine in the morning is to carry out relevant vehicle checks, e.g. a check on our yard handler which is used for loading / unloading deliveries and which we use to help lift heavy parts for tractors. Then I have a quick tidy up so that we’re ready to start the day. Everyone participates in cleaning up, which stomps out the old tale of it being just a woman’s job! Once all of this is done, I crack on with any job I’m given or I shadow a mentor and help them on a job if needed.
Why did you choose your current career and did you have any mentors who gave you encouragement and advice along the way?
I chose this career path for a number of reasons. I started out in the car industry as a mechanic for Hyundai, following the passion I’ve always had for cars, but I soon saw that doing the same thing every day wasn’t my cup of tea - I wanted to be challenged. Shortly afterwards I met my partner Greg, who was working as a tree surgeon at the time, but was getting into the forestry industry. I accompanied him on a couple of day’s work and realised how much I absolutely love heavy machinery and I wanted to learn more.
I already knew of what was then the agricultural arm of Lister Wilder and thought why not take the jump and see how it goes, my heart was set on it! I watched a lot of YouTube videos about various different tractors and styles of farming (I had no background whatsoever!) and after an interview and a trial day I got the job. I started at the Cirencester branch where I first met Tris and Shaun who gave me the hope that I’d go far in this industry because of my determination and motivation. I then moved to the Bristol depot as it was a lot closer for me and it was a blessing as I got to meet the amazing people I am currently working with.
All of the guys I work with are so helpful and patient, I couldn’t ask for a better team. I knew as time went on that this was the career for me. My boss Andrew, an engineer, has taught me so much, even if it is using imperial measures! I can also massively thank my dad for his support, making him proud drives me even further.
How did you initially find out about training on an AGCO Apprenticeship scheme?
I researched on the internet for a long time on what steps to take to become an apprentice for a tractor engineering company, I read a lot about AGCO and their global operations and I was then certain I wanted a placement at an AGCO dealership, there is so much opportunity I’d be a fool to miss out. I was lucky enough that the Dealership was looking for new apprentices at the time and I couldn’t be more grateful to Steve and Tony for interviewing me at the last minute - it was fate.
How do you think more women can be encouraged to take up an agricultural apprenticeship scheme and pursue a similar career path?
I think there are a lot of negative stories around women in a man’s world but honestly, I haven’t been treated differently or looked down upon as everyone knows that this is a job I love, and when you love something, you work hard for it! I do think it’s really empowering to be able to drive a tractor and fix it yourself if it goes wrong, whether you’re a man or woman! If you are really determined and are serious about what you want to do, you will fly through and your career will fall perfectly into place. Just do it!
What is the most important piece of advice you would give to someone starting a similar career?
The most important thing I would say to anyone, young or old, man or woman, is if you’re willing, you can do it. It does get hard sometimes and not just because you’re new to it, even the most experienced people have tough days, but that just makes you better at your job!
Why do you think diversity is so important in the workplace?
Diversity is very important in the workplace as it demonstrates to anyone wanting to join a team that they too can do it! You don’t have to be the world’s strongest person, believe me, I am not, but there is equipment and even other people to help you lift heavy stuff, so anyone can give it a go!
Do you think there are equal opportunities for women in your field of work?
I think now there are more equal opportunities for women than there were. If you’re determined it doesn’t matter who you are, it’s the perfect time to get involved!
Do you feel you have faced any barriers in this industry and if so, how have you overcome them?
The only real barrier for me was not having a farming background. I was worried that I wouldn’t know anything and that I would be left behind, unlike most of my fellow apprentices who had come from farming. But as I got to know everyone, they told me about the different farming sectors and about the farms they come from. With the help of a few YouTube videos I became more confident and I’m still learning a great deal, about crops alone!
What do you see is the biggest issue today facing women and the drive towards a gender equal society?
The biggest issue for women today is feeling too afraid to pursue the career they want, because for the longest time we were made to feel like we were not welcome in workshops or in the field, but nowadays that’s a real myth. What does sadden me is that the public are still pleasantly surprised to see a woman engineer show up, when by now, it should be the norm, so let’s make it that way!
If you are interested in a technical agricultural apprenticeship, I highly recommend joining through the AGCO programme, it is an amazing opportunity. AGCO has a network of professional and dedicated dealerships just like Chandlers Farm Equipment and that’s where all the great people are who will support you in your career.