On Location - Sydney Accounts Division
It’s the team that underpins the strong, reliable financial reputation Delta Agribusiness prides itself on, quietly working away behind the scenes to ensure the cogs of business keep turning. Delta Ag’s back house administration team, based in Sydney, deals with over 3,000 suppliers and 9,000 customers, whilst servicing a staff of 300 people within the company’s 44 sites. As such, it’s fair to say the office, consisting of just five, run a high intensity, extremely efficient regime. Delta Ag Group Accounting Manager Manjit Bhaur leads the group, which is responsible for all Delta Ag’s back office function, including management accounting, accounts payable and bank reconciliations. “We service and support the financial obligations of the business for internal and external stakeholders,” Manjit explains. “Dealing with so many suppliers and clients makes for a high volume transactional environment, but ensuring timely and accurate reconciliations is a priority. “Ultimately the effectiveness of the administration teams is one of the key drivers underpinning Delta Agribusiness’s stellar reputation.” “We support procurement and ensure suppliers and stakeholders are always paid efficiently, which is something we pride ourselves on – we are acutely aware of how important our work is in supporting the front end of business.” Born and raised in Leicester, and later having lived and worked in Manchester, Manjit relocated with his partner to Australia in 2001. Growing up immersed in his parent’s family business afforded him the opportunity to gain an early understanding of what it takes to earn a dollar – or pound in his case.
“Business was a big part of my childhood and upbringing, it taught me how to respect customers, treat employees and become part of a growing business. It was a challenging environment - hard work, but rewarding.” And while Manjit admits that he knew very little about agriculture when he first moved to Australia with his partner in 2001, a fateful role with Wesfarmers in 2002 initiated him into the industry. “Thanks to my time in the ag sector I am fortunate to have formed well established working relationships within the industry, and in 2010 when the opportunity arose I was thrilled to move across to Delta Agribusiness.” While Manjit may be based in Sydney, he has a firm grasp on rural Australia and its issues, and laughs that his role has afforded him an opportunity to see parts of the country most Sydney-siders never get to experience. “When I first took the role I was working remotely from Sydney, so had to travel to head office in Young frequently. The business has grown significantly since then, and while we now have a Sydney-based office, I still like to get out and about whenever I can.” One challenge the team has is the ability to form meaningful relationships with suppliers and staff, with their office based workload and proximity rendering it almost impossible to head west for site visits. However, Manjit said this has been mitigated thanks to the strong team culture within the whole organisation, with staff from across rural areas always making time to drop into the office when in Sydney. “We meet with the managers quite regularly, and when employers come to Sydney for personal reasons they always pop in for morning tea, which is also a huge reflection on their dedication to the team. “We don’t ever want to be just an anonymous employee name on the end of an email, that goes against everything Delta Ag stands for, our strength is our people, not just our systems.” And despite its inner-city Sydney location, Delta Ag’s administration team feels every seasonal variance as strongly as if was right there in the paddock itself.
“We can see the effect of drought through our customer and supplier data, we know harvest is in full swing when things quieten down, and we know when there’s been good summer rain – bang, the weed spraying season is on!” Accounts Payable Officer, Robbi Calfoforo, is also a tireless team member, having joined Delta Ag in 2010. Originally from the Philippines, she credits her ‘no worries’ attitude for keeping her going in such a high intensity role. “The attention required for this role is very important, my role is to ensure all invoices are processed and paid in a timely manner, and now in the digital age most invoices come through email – so every time I blink there seems to be a new one! My work also involves monthly supplier statement reconciliation and archiving to keep everything organised,” she says.
“I seem to be the ‘go-to’ person – the branch staff contact me and after that first instance, they consider the job as done. “They have huge confidence in our ability to get things done, and rightly so, and for us it’s satisfying being able to provide such reliable, unquestioned support.” While Robbi believes some may consider a day in accounts as fairly uniform, she gets a real thrill out of the challenges of completing high volume transactions. “It’s same same, but different – there’s always something new to tackle or fix.” Delta Ag has enjoyed huge growth over recent years, and as such roles have evolved accordingly. With just 13 locations when Manjit first joined Delta Ag, the company has since expanded to now include 44 branches. “My role is always evolving as required by the business, which is exciting when I have such a strong relationship and working history with the management team.
“With this growth comes a lot of change and improvements in our business practices, and such developments have allowed even further successful administration processes for our business, as well as seamless customer and supplier relationships that flourish. “Sometimes it surprises me, Delta Ag’s ability to grow so quickly, but management’s outstanding ability to attract quality people into the business is a real formula for success.” Robbi also began her career in agriculture when she first moved to Australia, and made strong, fateful relationships that lead her to Delta. “I started as a ‘temp’ in Dalgety’s in 1996, I continued when the company became Wesfarmers Dalgety and then Wesfarmers Landmark and eventually Landmark AWB.” It was only a few months into a move to Melbourne with Landmark when Robbi got the phone call from Manjit about the new opportunity with Delta Ag in Sydney – and no sooner was she back in the Harbour City to help set up the new Sydney office. “It does appear that I’m very loyal to the agriculture industry, but I consider it a blessing to have landed a job with an Australian company that has such good core values, and good people.” Much like Manjit and Robbi when they first arrived on Australian shores, most employees in the team have little exposure to agriculture initially. However, Manjit believes working for Delta Ag provided a unique insight into rural Australia and the fabric of its culture. “I’m a city boy through and through, and whilst I’d always worked in financial administration in the UK, working in rural administration has been enlightening. “It’s an industry full of down to earth, hard-working and genuinely nice people, and it’s a pleasure dealing with these people every day.”