Image of crops

Sukh Benipal

Exploring agriculture beyond the fields with Sukh Benipal
From agriculture science to corporate insurance, Sukh's journey at the University of Sydney proves an agriculture degree can open doors beyond the farm. Discover how Sukh leveraged skills for success.
Sukh Benipal

Sukh Benipal

Why did you choose the University of Sydney?

I first completed a Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts at the University of Sydney. I majored in Agriculture Chemistry and Film Studies. After this, I wanted to pursue a Masters. This is when I chose to study a Master of Agriculture and Environment also at the University of Sydney.

Tell us about your role and what does it involve?

I currently work as a Reinsurance Admin Officer, which was both a horizontal and vertical transition from previously being a Crop Claims officer. My current role gives me a very high-level view of the insurance industry and what is most vulnerable to emerging risks like climate change.

This role allows me to be a part of the solutions that are being developed to mitigate the impact of these risks, as well as provide adequate cover for the most vulnerable people facing them. This role was the next step from working directly within the crop insurance industry where I worked directly with customers from regional and rural Australia to help them with their insurance needs.

When most people think of insurance they don’t think of agriculture...Having excellent subject knowledge is a great advantage and more people should consider roles in the insurance industry.
Sukh Benipal

What drew you to this industry?

This was very relevant for me while I was studying Master of Agriculture and Environment, a lecturer introduced the use case for insurers to leverage on modelling skills being taught in that class. This became the origin seed and led me to do my research about opportunities in this sector

What key skills did you acquire from your degree that you continue to use in your role?

There are so many skills that I find myself using that I gained from both my undergraduate and postgraduate studies. Firstly, the insight and industry knowledge that the University of Sydney was able to provide was incredibly valuable. I made industry connections and gained intimate knowledge from the various field trips organised by our lecturers.

Some of the clients I had in my working life were people I had the privilege of meeting as a student. Having such great access to the industry from such a great starting point yields great opportunities for your future.

Sukh Benipal

Sukh Benipal's cotton trip

What is your most significant career achievement or highlight?

I was able to successfully run a project during my previous role which involved leveraging the use of geographic information systems to provide better insights for our company.

These skills were highly valuable, but being able to put them to use and demonstrate to your employers that you have the technical background to be able to carry them was an extremely proud moment.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your role or industry?

There are plenty of misconceptions that I think can pose a hindrance. Firstly, when most people think of insurance they don’t think of agriculture. So it has been a challenge to get people with the right subject knowledge in this space as most people assume a more financial background is what is desired.

Having excellent subject knowledge is a great advantage and more people should consider roles in the insurance industry.

What advice would you offer to students considering a career in your field?

My advice would be to keep your subjects at university as diverse as possible and to try and incorporate some statistics-based subjects to be well equipped to understand data and analytics.

This way even if you do not have the exact skill set or financial knowledge relating to the industry, you still have a diverse skill set that will be transferable.