Life-changing courses reignite passion
Five years ago, Taranaki accountant, farm manager’s partner and mother of three young children, Amanda Burling, felt like she had completely lost her way.
“I was a stay-at-home mum. My life revolved around the kids, school and playcentre, I was stressed out, felt completely dependent on others and not feeling in control.
It was full on with three little kids and we needed a new vehicle which we couldn’t afford. I had thought about going back to work but just couldn’t see how it could work and couldn’t see a way forward. I had completely forgotten who I was and felt totally dependent on my partner.”
The turning point in Amanda’s life was two Agri-Women’s Development Trust courses that boosted her confidence and helped her rediscover her deep-seated passion for farm accounting. It also led to her contributing financially to her family.
“The two courses literally saved me – Understanding Your Farming Business (UYFB) reignited my passion for helping other farmers with their finances. First Steps (now called “It’s all about YOU) reminded me who I was.”
UYFB had an immediate impact for Amanda. “The first day of the course reminded me that I really missed working closely with the financial side of farming. I literally went home that night and emailed a friend to see if she knew of any accounting jobs going. I started within the month. On day two of the course, we were having a discussion around what had changed and I was able to say I had gotten a job!
During UYFB, the opportunity to do the AWDT First Steps (It’s all about YOU) programme came up. Even though I didn’t have the funds to invest in myself at the time, Lindy Nelson allowed me to do it.
Lindy saw something in me at that point that I couldn’t see and no one close to me had seen for a while either. To have someone else believe in me at that time was huge because my own self-belief was pretty low. It played on my mind for years that I had a debt to pay, so I contacted Lindy and offered up this story.
First Steps highlighted what was important to me in life – I’m a shocker at taking on way too much and not prioritising. It made me realise how small my life and social circle had become. It helped me concentrate and certainly broadened my horizons. It also gave me a really good self-awareness. All of a sudden, I knew my preferred learning style, my strengths and what made me tick. Information is power – and boy did that make me feel powerful.
After a few years in the first job, I decided I wanted to focus on my passion which is working with farmers. I sent my CV to a couple of contacts and was successful in landing a role in a large Taranaki firm, Staples Rodway. At first, they weren’t sure where my skill set would fit in, but it has developed into a role where I now specialise in agri-software systems. Part of my continually-evolving role is working with farmers to create the best systems for them. Staples Rodway provides an excellent pathway for self-development and progression.
I love analysing information and have a deep-seated passion to give farmers the information they need to make them work smarter, not harder. I have seen how hard farmers work but they don’t always get the same results. Having the right information at the right time can make a huge impact on decisions made on the farm.
When the recession hit in 2009, my partner and I were made redundant from our job managing a large lease block for owners who had just taken it on. I don’t know the full extent of what happened, but I am certain that good and timely information was not utilised within their system. The result had a huge effect on my family.
When times get tough, as farmers we often stick our head down and work harder. We get fatigued, and decisions that were already being put off become even harder. That’s where I know I can help.
Farming and hard work are just what I know. I grew up on a sheep and beef farm, then mum and dad converted to dairy when I was nine. When I finished school, I worked as a wool handler for 18 months in Taranaki and Central Otago.
I’ve always been on the farm and now support my partner in the farm management side of things. I love being a part of discussion groups and now feel like I actually have something to contribute. At first, I would just sit there and take it all in and then pick my partner’s brain all the way home. The kids were in the car with us one night after a discussion group and during a pause in conversation they said, “Wow Mum, we had no idea you knew so much about farming!”
Now I’m in charge of myself and my life. I am no longer completely reliant on others for my or my family’s wellbeing. I know who I am now and where I want to be. I am working my way up. We were able to buy a house and we now know that if anything happens we’ll be ok.”