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AgriSETA Learner Connect: Meet a scientific company’s big boss

Dr Tertia Erasmus has had an incredible career in agriculture science and business management

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Dr Tertia Erasmus (49) loves the diversity of working in agriculture and being being part of the food chain from the soil to our plates. Solving problems and finding solutions to enhance the processes and quality of the food produced is what drives her work.

Erasmus is the managing director at SciCorp Laboratories, a department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries registered biotechnology lab and seed quality test lab. She manages and leads a professional and experienced team working in various scientific disciplines. Together they support Southern Africa’s food, feed and seed industries.

Her impressive career story started with a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree from the University of Pretoria (UP). Due to a lack of money she could not continue full-time studies and switched to working at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), finishing her BSc degree part-time.

Erasmus continued her learning journey, completing an BSc Honours in microbiology followed by a Masters of Science (MSc) in biochemistry, a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in molecular biology. Her Masters in Business Adminstration (MBA) is from the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom.

Impressive right? Well if you think you have what it takes to follow in Erasmus’s footsteps and if you have a keen interest in mathematics, science and English then follow the advise below to find out how you can get involved.

This is another exciting career being featured on our AgriSETA Learner Connect campaign. Presented in partnership with Food For Mzansi and 19 different radio stations we’re exploring the diverse career options in the agricultural sector every single day.

Okay, now it’s over to Dr Tertia Erasmus, managing director at SciCorp Laboratories.

1Could you sum up your job for us? I manage and lead a team of professional and experienced scientists, operating across various scientific disciplines that support the food, feed and seed industry in Southern Africa.

2So, what does the day-to-day of your job entail? I attend departmental meetings, research and development planning sessions and write up new business proposals and stakeholder reports. The highlight of my day is when I can help troubleshoot something in the laboratory.

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What qualification do you need for this career? I started with a Bachelor of Science (BSc)  degree from the University of Pretoria (UP), but funds were a significant hurdle for me to continue full-time studies. I started working at the CSIR while also studying part-time and upon completion of my BSc degree I did my BSc Honours in microbiology at UP part-time. I had to work in the night hours when I had to attend lectures during the day.

I took a position as researcher and head of the laboratory at Pannar Seeds where I continued my studies part-time and completed my Masters of Science (MSc) in biochemistry and my Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in molecular biology. In 2008 I accepted a position with a Dutch-owned company (Incotec) involved in seeds and became the regional manager for Africa. During this time, I completed my MBA through the University of Liverpool.

4What are the character traits you need to be great at your job? Be driven, take ownership, convert every challenge into an opportunity. Earn it, don’t expect it. Stay positive. Respect everybody and never compromise your integrity.

5What subjects do I need to become managing director of a scientific company manager? At a minimum, you would need mathematics, science and English.

6What do you love about agriculture as a space to work in? I love the diversity and being part of the food chain from soil to plate. I love solving problems and finding solutions to enhance the processes and quality of the food produced.

7Don’t be modest, tell us about your proudest career moments? The successful completion of my PhD and MBA were significant achievements for me. It is challenging to work, study and raise a family. A very proud moment was the successful management buy-out of the Incotec laboratory to become SciCorp Laboratories.

8What do you do when you’re not at work? I spend time with my children and I enjoy reading and hiking.

9Any advice for young people who are inspired by your career story here on AgriSETA Learner Connect? Never give up, stay humble and above all never compromise your integrity and honesty.

10Where can I study to become managing director of ascientific company? All universities that have a life sciences department.

How to listen to AgriSETA Learner Connect:

Option 1: Click here to listen on Spotify (all mobile and other devices).
Option 2: Click here to listen on any Apple device.
Option 3: Click here to listen on Google Podcasts.
Option 4: Click here listen using this player. Just click “play”.

Catch AgriSETA Learner Connect on these radio stations:

  1. Waterberg Stereo: Bela Bela, Brits, Naboomspruit, Pietersburg, Pretoria, Thabazimbi, Tzaneen  – 104.9 FM
  2. Waterberg Stereo: Thabazimbi, Naboomspruit – 104.9 FM
  3. Laeveld Stereo: Nelspruit – 100.5 FM
  4. Lichvaal Stereo: Lichtenburg – 92.6 FM
  5. Overvaal Stereo: Viljoenskroon, Parys – 96.1 FM
  6. Maluti FM: Bethlehem – 97.1 FM
  7. Rosestad FM: Bloemfontein – 100.6 FM
  8. Wild Coast FM: East London – 98.6 FM
  9. Gamka FM: Oudtshoorn – 87.6 FM
  10. Kouga FM: Humansdorp – 97.8 FM
  11. Eden FM: Hessequa, Kannaland, Karoo, Oudtshoorn, Plettenbergbaai, Riversdale, Uniondale – 93.8 FM
  12. Radio Overberg: Bredasdorp – 98.4 FM
  13. Caledon FM: Caledon – 89.3 FM
  14. Whale Coast FM: Hermanus – 96.0 FM
  15. West Coast FM: Vredenburg – 92.3 FM
  16. Lara FM: Springbok – 91.6 FM
  17. NFM: Okiep – 98.1 FM
Staff Reporter
Staff Reporter
Researched and written by our team of writers and editors.
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