Our world is your world. Careers in land-based industries.

Andrew Purnell

"Being a graduate allowed me to enter the industry at a higher level than would otherwise have been possible."
Andrew Purnell Andrew Purnell in a Massey Ferguson

You could be an... Agricultural sales manager

Andrew Purnell works for the farm machinery company AGCO as Area Sales Manager for Massey Ferguson.

The BSc (Hons) Agriculture degree gives graduates a broad agricultural education, touching upon many different aspects of this exciting field of work. Having enjoyed his modules in mechanisation, crops and agri-business Andrew Purnell knew this was the career path he wanted to follow.

Originally from Gwent, in Wales, he decided to remain in Shropshire after finishing his exams in 2007, and quickly found a job that ticked all of the boxes.

“Upon graduating I decided that a career in the commercial agricultural supply industry was what suited me. I started working as a Sales Specialist for KW Alternative Feeds, selling animal feeds direct to farmers across Shropshire and North and Mid-Wales. After four years I was looking for more responsibility and having always had an interest in farm machinery I snapped up the opportunity to work for the farm machinery giant AGCO as Area Sales Manager for Massey Ferguson. AGCO offers a wealth of global opportunity; with over 20,000 employees, the company recognises how important its employees are and invests in your career development.”

Andrew covers a lot of miles visiting dealers throughout Wales and the West Midlands, and our photographer accompanied him on one of his visits to RVW Pugh, in Cheshire. It’s one of the things the 28-year-old enjoys most about his career: “I really enjoy meeting people and, of course, getting orders for Massey Ferguson tractors.”

Being able to communicate well with people is one of the many practical skills students learn at Harper Adams, as well as being confident and prepared to get on with the job from day one: “Massey Ferguson were looking for someone ambitious and keen to take on a responsible position. I was right for the job as I had the academic background and sales and practical farm experience.

“My qualification and experiences have certainly aided my career by allowing me to enter the industry at a higher level than would otherwise have been possible and take on certain responsibilities. With these responsibilities naturally comes a higher salary. I would advise anyone thinking of a career in this area to be ambitious, think hard about your academic and practical experiences and how they can be applied to the job.”

Andrew first experienced Harper Adams when he took part in our annual residential event, which gives young students a taste of university:  “I choose to study at Harper Adams because of its excellent reputation. I went to the overnight event formerly known as HEC in 2001 and found it to be a fantastic experience - it offered a snapshot of university life and helped cement in my mind that I was making the right choice.”

His placement year spent on a large dairy and arable farm in Wales was, he says, incredibly useful: “Here I gained first-hand experience of a range of everyday farm operations, from milking in a 60 point rotary parlour, complete diet feeding, silage making and arable cultivations and harvesting. Not being from a farming background this experience proved invaluable in my later studies and in my future career.”

You could be an Agricultural Sales Manager if you would enjoy:

  • Selling products such as agricultural machinery
  • Working closely with dealerships
  • Talking to people (and listening!)
  • Developing in-depth knowledge of products
  • Meeting sales targets and managing a budget
  • Travelling
  • Planning, organising and administration
  • Marketing
  • Using your initiative

More from Andrew on Harper Adams

What did you do before coming to Harper Adams?

I studied A Levels in Biology, Geography and Environmental Science and AS Level Business Studies.

Did your course enhance your career opportunities?   

I was able to study a range of modules suitable for many jobs, and the placement year also gave me valuable experiences that I could apply to different situations.

Tell us a little about any projects you worked on.

My dissertation was on the effect of cultivation methods on weed populations and species. The project showed that there were differences both in terms of weed populations and also what species grew. The experience was valuable as I learnt how to understand academic research and also that choosing the right cultivation technique can significantly affect the growers’ herbicide choices.

Was your placement on a farm useful?

Yes, as it allowed me to apply academic knowledge into everyday situations and gain practical experience. 

What is the teaching at Harper Adams like?

Easily accessible and first class.

And the facilities?

Excellent and constantly improving with huge investment.

Why would you recommend Harper Adams? 

You work hard and party hard. The university has an excellent reputation with employers.

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