Alex’s dairy dream comes true
Oleksandr (Alex) Lysov feared a job offer on an Australian dairy farm may have been a scam, but it ended up changing his life.
The Ukrainian native had been looking for opportunities in Canada and hadn’t considered Australia until he saw an online advertisement.
“It isn’t easy going through recruitment agencies when trying to work overseas,” he said.
“One day I was looking on a Ukrainian job search website and saw the ad for an Australian farm.
“I thought it was a joke, some kind of a scam, but I applied and after two weeks did an interview, got a visa and came to Australia.”
That was in late 2018 and today Mr Lysov and his wife Oksana have been granted Australian residency and will apply for citizenship early next year.
After learning the practical side of the dairy industry, he is now being supported by a DemoDAIRY Foundation scholarship to study a Certificate IV in accounting and bookkeeping at South West TAFE to boost his knowledge of the business side of farming.
Alex grew up in Ukraine and has a Master Degree in Mechanical Engineering in Agriculture, although that is not recognised in Australia.
While a student, he worked in Great Britain picking peas and beans and after university moved to Denmark where he had his first experience working on a dairy farm.
“I grew up in a city similar to Geelong with no connection to dairy farming, but I really like to work with animals,” Alex said.
I didn’t know anything about cows when I started but I learnt everything by practice and from reading to get some of the theory behind it because I found it so interesting.
“It’s very rewarding to work in the food industry.”
He later worked as a field services adviser with a big dairy processor Danone in Ukraine before moving to the United States to work on a cropping farm, mainly to get practice working on tractors and in the fields.
After that he returned to Ukraine and tried to find a suitable job. He had an option as an advisor, but at the same time found an opportunity on a farm owned by Midfield Meat in south-west Victoria.
After overcoming his initial scepticism, he worked at the Woolsthorpe farm for four years and was promoted to second-in-charge.
“It was a very good experience for me,” he said.
“I got my residency and could choose something else, but decided to stay in the dairy industry.
“When I got my residency, I decided to study as I felt it would help me to find a better job.
“I wanted to build my knowledge about budgets and the economic side of the farm. I can do all the practical work, but I wanted to know how to do the budgets.”
Alex now works with Saputo in a similar field services officer role as he performed in his home country.
He plans to study an accounting diploma next year and hopes to continue on to a bachelor degree, possibly in commerce.
His long-term goal is to be a financial adviser for dairy farms.
Alex, 36, has fallen in love with the Warrnambool region — which is a far cry from his preconceived idea of Australia as a hot, desert country.
The DemoDAIRY Foundation scholarship has made studying much easier.
“When I started, I had to study with my old laptop in my bedroom. I didn’t have a desk or anything,” he said.
“Now we’ve rented a house with a spare room and the scholarship enabled me to buy a desk, chair and a new laptop.
“I can now shut the door and concentrate, so it’s much easier to study.”
He has also retained some of the scholarship money to spend next year during his diploma.
DemoDAIRY Foundation is now seeking applications for 2024 scholarships. The closing date for DDF and Powell Legacy Fund school leaver scholarships and also DDF grants is November 25.
For more information, visit: https://www.demodairy.com.au/application/ or contact DDF secretary Ian Teese on 0427 358987 or email email@example.com