Born and bred in Bloemfontein, Ryno Schoeman and his team from the University of the Free State (UFS) will be representing the university at this year’s International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA) from 16 to 21 June in New Zealand.
Schoeman is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Agricultural Economics while working as a Research Assistant and Tutor at the University of the Free State. “I began my academic career in 2018, initially studying BSc Mathematics and Finance before switching to BSc Agricultural Economics in 2019. I graduated in 2021 and joined the UFS as a research assistant in 2022 while completing my Honours Degree in BSc Agricultural Economics. I achieved my Honours Degree with distinction and received recognition as the best Honours student in BSc Agricultural Economics at the UFS,” he said.
According to Schoeman, the competition brings together students from around the world to demonstrate their skills and knowledge before a panel of industry specialists and academics. “IFAMA is renowned as the largest agri conference globally. During the competition, our team will receive a real-world problem upon arrival in New Zealand, and we will have four hours to solve it and present our solution to the judges. This competition tests our critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity, knowledge, and public speaking abilities. It also provides valuable networking opportunities with industry professionals,” he explained.
Schoeman added that they have been preparing by engaging with previous winners to learn from their experiences and approach to problem-solving. “We are also utilising the help videos provided by IFAMA. Additionally, we are reading extensively on related problems to build a strong foundation and be prepared for various scenarios.” When asked what motivates him daily, he said: “Firstly, I prioritise personal growth and continuously strive to become the best version of myself. Secondly, I am driven by the desire to achieve long-term success, knowing that every effort I put in today will shape my future. Setting academic goals and standards for myself serves as further motivation to work hard. Lastly, discipline has been a key factor in my accomplishments, and without it, none of my achievements would have been possible.”
While Schoeman has a passion for mathematically oriented problems, and enjoys acquiring new knowledge, he does not consider himself solely an academic. “Pursuing a master’s degree was a personal goal I set for myself to enhance my abilities and improve my future prospects. In addition to my academic pursuits, I have a keen interest in various sports,” he said.