A better way of working

WITH a degree in Biotech Ram Savana started his career working for a medical device company. But limited opportunities and a desire to secure permanent residency in Australia saw him head back to the land, starting out as a farm hand and winding up a business owner.

Within minutes of meeting Ram it becomes apparent why farmers are willing to open up their homes and businesses to him and lay their farm lives bare. “As you know most farmers feel they can never clock off,” he said, “their workloads are crushing and it’s affecting both the farmers and their families.”

It’s no coincidence he named his business Enable Ag – his whole philosophy is to enable farmers to do more/the same but give themselves more free time. Ram calls himself a “time freedom coach” a consultant who has built a business helping farmers find a work life balance and “let go” of some of the things they try to control.

“I’m finding those farmers who always believe in what they did, they’re known for what they do and I am going to them and challenging them. “Yep, you’re doing fantastic on the farm, now let’s talk about your work life balance.”

He says the key to progress is having systems in place and being open minded. “What you need help with is taking back your time, taking back control of your life. “Sometimes it’s using technology to do things for you, sometimes it’s developing a system for things like when you return phone calls, do you have a messaging system and it is around forming new habits. “Everybody gets different feelings around the process. Some people say it’s like a whole weight has been lifted off their shoulders, for others it’s being able to take a holiday or having their staff communicate with them better than they ever were before.”

As a university student Ram used his position as a casual cleaner to access conferences and events to give him an edge in entering his chosen career path. He handed out 350 business cards to anyone who was willing to take one. Two of those resulted in call backs and one of them ended in a job. It was a start that catapulted the then biotech student into a new life in his adopted country Australia. But it certainly didn’t end where he thought. “I could not get a white-collar job while I was studying at university. I was running out of money and my dad said ‘look you need to start making money. I can’t keep feeding you from here’,” he said.

“While studying at university I had to take up a cleaner job at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. “I used this to get into events. I tried to talk to people and they were shooing me away, that’s when I started using the business cards.” Eventually the chief executive of a start-up medical device company gave Ram a chance.

He went from being a casual employee to a shareholder within three and a half years. It was in this role that Ram says he developed his project management skills and had the first opportunity to apply his university studies to real life situations. When the medical device company was sold Ram and his now wife Mrudula began to look for the next step. As they were both looking for a permanent visa they had an opportunity to move to Tasmania in 2016 under state sponsorship, work for two years and then apply for permanent residency.

“To be honest we came with the intention that we would go back to the mainland,” Ram said. However Ram and Mrudula have spent the past five and half years building a life and a business. “We bought a house last year, we settled, we made a decision, this is our home,” Ram said.

Again on the hunt for work, Ram decided to take a job as a farmhand. While his wife was horrified, mostly by the smell and soil on Ram’s work clothes, the young migrant from Indian farming stock saw it as an opportunity. “Why not go back to the farming sector and see if I can take something from there and give it to my mum and dad, that was the intention.” It became much more as Ram not only worked as a farmhand at Cressy but slowly built trust with his employer, Tom Dowling, who then hired Ram as a consultant for half a day a week. “We both were learning a lot from each other. He shared everything with me about the farm and we started to look at how things were working and where we could make changes.”

“Tom was happy that my questioning quickly identified the challenges he and his business were facing at that stage.” “That’s what it’s about getting you to think and then finding the answers that work for the farmer.”

It was this approach that led Ram to start his own business, Enable Ag in 2017. His client list and sense of purpose have grown since then and he’s added several awards to his resume including the 2022 Excellence in a Start-Up in the Business Excellence Awards and a state finalist in the 2022 Telstra Best of Business Awards. Ram has spent some 4200 hours on Tasmanian farms and so far helped 30 farm families. He now also has two employees working in overseas locations in the business.