The BIGGA Delegation sponsored by Bernhard and Company is an opportunity not to be missed. It allows those in the turf care industry to both learn and develop skills. Pitchcare spoke to Craig Haldane in this quick-fire Q and A about Craigs experience with the delegation.
What are the biggest draws to applying to be part of the BIGGA Delegation sponsored by Bernhard and Company?
The main draw for me was what I had heard about the 'buzz' of the trip, and then secondly, the genuine interest I had in the opportunity to meet more industry professionals as I was still relatively new to the UK. I felt that I could learn a lot from others by being a part of this educational journey and also share my experiences. Visiting the GCSAA show is wonderful, and it is such a great opportunity to gain some additional education and to meet a range of industry leaders. It is something you don't get to do very often. In that setting, you are surrounded by successful individuals, companies, and teams, and you are exposed to opportunities that you wouldn't find on a day-to-day basis.
What is the interview process like?
One of the most important aspects of the interview process is your initial application. You really have to take time to think carefully about why you are applying and what you are looking to gain from the experience. The next step is a face-to-face interview with a panel who really want to get to know you personally - things like your career to date and your aspirations for the future. It is a formal interview process but not a technical test of your greenkeeping abilities. So, the interview process is there to help you demonstrate why you want to be part of the delegation.
Once selected as a delegate, and introduced at BTME, what is the feeling like?
It's a very exciting moment and something you will feel immensely proud to be a part of. You will experience a lot of camaraderie and exciting personalities. That period is a great chance to sit down and get to know your fellow delegates, who of course you'll be making the trip to the USA with.
What educational opportunities are available during the trip to the USA?
You are able to sign up for a selection of educational seminars as part of the delegation, experience live chat sessions during the show week, and also attend the opening ceremony. Additionally, you have time to really connect with some leading experts in all aspects of agronomy whilst you explore the great number of stands at the show.
The evening receptions also give you a fantastic chance to network and learn from some great companies and people in our industry in a more relaxed environment. Most importantly, you have the opportunity to make an impression. The delegation is well known, and you will feel a great sense of pride and responsibility as you are representing something bigger than yourself.
How valuable are the site visits where you learn from some of the industry's most impressive maintenance teams?
The site visits are fantastic. You quickly realise that the teams in the USA are just as passionate about greenkeeping as we are - I was made to feel very welcome indeed. They open their facilities up to you and show you everything. They offer an all-access experience for the delegates and are not afraid to engage in some thoughtful, honest conversations. It's fantastic to be in that cohesive environment.
Can you explain the benefits of the networking opportunities?
The delegation offers you the perfect platform for networking. However, it is very much your responsibility, and in a room full of industry experts, you have to take the initiative and spark those conversations. There are presentations from the likes of existing course managers and deputies from world-class facilities, leading architects, CEOs of large manufacturing companies, and industry educators.
Additionally, you will have the chance to meet the GCSAA team lead by Rhett Evans and the leadership teams at both Bernhard and Company and BIGGA. Those teams do a great job of being available throughout the week to answer any questions you may have.
Can you explain the benefit of being around likeminded people during the visit and having the opportunity to pick their brains?
You get to travel with nine other delegates who applied for the same reasons that you did, so being around that energy all week is priceless. It's a full schedule from the moment you land, so the time you get to spend with those people is brilliant. You all get to recap your days, discuss who you met, and share what you learned, so you get to know each other really quickly. The group forms a great bond as you open up to each other about all aspects of your career and the challenges you've faced. That's one of the biggest takeaways from the trip for sure.
When you look back on your time as a delegate, what are your top three takeaways from the experience?
I got to know people behind the scenes. I discovered how passionate and professional they all are, and how much they also care for the industry. I was reminded why I love my job, and how we are all facing the same challenges no matter where we work or what kind of budget we have to operate with. I found that there are people and resources out there for us all to take advantage of. But my biggest takeaway, is that I made nine friends for life.
How has your career changed off the back of being a delegate?
I had the opportunity to engage with so many great people throughout the week and learn from them. I also felt proud to share some of my knowledge with the rest of the team, and off the back of the trip I was asked to share my experiences at various events across the UK. Overall, I was introduced to an opportunity that I grabbed with both hands, and I was able to demonstrate the best version of myself throughout the week. As long as you have that mindset, work hard at your craft, and remain passionate about what you do, really good things will come from the experience.
What would you say to anybody who is still thinking about applying for this opportunity?
What are you waiting for……..
Visit www.bernhard.co.uk/delegation to apply now. Right now!