Working as a Recruiter in AgriTech, naturally people often ask me what type of roles I find myself recruiting for. We also collaborate and provide advice to various academic bodies and institutions in this space and, in a similar vein, are also asked; what kind of career opportunities exist in this world? Is it a career route people should be actively looking to pursue? Do you need a farming background to build a career in this domain?
The truth is that, just like in other tech driven sectors, the nature of roles that arise can be highly varied, weird & wonderful. Some of course may require an agri / farming specific skillset, but there’s a plethora of others that don’t. Below is a (by no means exhaustive!) snapshot:
- Roles of a STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) discipline. The demand for staff with a STEM background has increased hugely in the AgTech sector in recent years. In most cases, an Agri background is not needed for roles of this nature, a successful candidate is just as likely to have built up their skillset from experience in other sectors. This category covers a wide range of roles, and it is here that we’re referring to the likes of Software Developers, Data Scientists, AI Specialists, Engineers (Electronic, Mechanical, etc…), Scientists of various specialisms and more.
- Senior Leadership posts. Covering up to C Level. These roles exist across organisations of all types but are arising regularly at the moment in the AgTech space as so many start-ups and SMEs are emerging in the sector. Upon reaching growth point the first steps of a start-up will often be to recruit for the senior staff that can head up various parts of their business – this could include Chief Technology Officers, Commercial Directors, Heads of Product, even CEOs. Whether or not you’ll require an Agri sector background depends completely on the role type here – naturally, something tech oriented like a CTO often won’t, whereas a more commercially oriented post may require somebody with a background and extensive contacts in the space.
- Commercial posts. Here we’re talking about Sales, Business Development, Account Management, anything client focused… I would also include roles in areas such as Customer Success in this. At the moment it’s common for a hiring company to want an Agri sector background (as mentioned previously, somebody who has contacts in this space). This does seem to be changing though, especially in roles that relate to a tech product or service – in these cases employers may be more interested in somebody with a tech sector background, or might consider somebody from one or the other (Agri or Tech)
- The ‘In Between’ roles. There are some roles that arise regularly that aren’t purely tech / STEM focused, but neither are they purely commercial – roles that will sometimes bridge the gap between the two. This is where I would place the likes of Product specialists and Project Managers. Candidates may need to have some nous in both areas – so will be comfortable liaising with clients, but are also able to understand & translate tech concepts without necessarily being a hands on expert. It really depends on the client and exact role nature when it comes to whether or not an Agri background is required – some clients will value more a background that relates to the nature of the product (whether that’s Software, Data, AI, Engineering, etc), whereas others will stipulate an existing understanding of the Agri domain.
- Agri Specific posts. Certain roles within AgriTech companies will require an Agri / Farming background, in the same way that some FinTech companies might sometimes need to hire a finance expert, or a HealthTech company may require the expertise of people with a medical background. Recent examples for us include Agronomists, and a Trials Manager position for a company looking to trial their tech solutions out in a real farming environment.
In summary, for anybody interested in this space and the opportunity to work in a sector that can have a genuinely positive impact on the world, there are career opportunities aplenty… whether you’re of an Agri background or not. Don’t let a lack of an Agri background deter you!
It was a pleasure and privilege to sponsor Barn4's recent Breakfast Social event; the first one to be held in person.
The event provided a great chance to meet and network with various parties across the AgriTech sector, from start-up leaders through to those interested in investing into the sector.
Fingers crossed for more events of this nature in future.
Vertical Farming is a sub-sector of AgriTech in which we've seen a huge rise in activity levels in the last 1-2 years. However, it was only recently that we had the chance to physically see a Vertical Farm in action, as we travelled to visit a client in this domain.
Feeling like we'd just stepped into the future, we came away highly impressed and excited about what this space has to offer. We expect to see much more activity and a range of different role types opening up in this sector over the coming months and years... watch this space!