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Women lead job diversity in agriculture

15 March 2017

news item

While women play a pivotal role in managing and sustaining Australia’s family farms, there are many career paths for women looking to maintain their love of the land.

Glencore Grain offers a diverse range of agriculture jobs for women – from farm management and grower liaison to communications and marketing – and the opportunities are expanding all the time.

A career in agriculture was a natural progression for Sue Rodda, who grew up in a family business that owned farms, grain storage and transport operations. She is now Farming Manager at Glencore Land and manages 12,500 hectares of cropping land around the south west slopes of New South Wales for the company.

“I was born and bred into agriculture, transport and grain storage and continue to remain in the industry as a passionate person wanting to grow food and leave the land in a better condition than I found it in,” Sue said.

“Growing grain to feed the world in a large scale farming operation, plus facing challenges that are varied every day and where no two seasons are the same, is always a challenge so I’m never bored.

“I love purchasing a new property that is run down and unproductive and developing it into an efficient productive business unit and then seeing it evolve under my farming system. I also love the way the soil is changing every year on our properties to become friable, living and growing to become more productive and having a bigger bucket to grow better crops on less rainfall.”

Having run Glencore Land since the farming program’s inception in 2008, Sue is given flexibility to conduct trials and try new ideas to improve the sustainability and efficiency of the operations.

“The company is open minded to new ideas to reduce risk, costs and increase production. I love the fact that if I have issues with nutrition or weeds on certain paddocks or farms, I am able to use holistic methods to rectify the problem if that is what is required to bring it into a productive state.

“I would encourage anyone, whether they’re female or male, to pursue a career in agriculture if they are passionate about the industry and work hard.”

Erin Barton, Field Officer for Glencore Grain based at the Viterra Narrabri receival and packing site, is responsible for grain and cotton accumulation in northern NSW.

“I grew up on a mixed enterprise farm and this was my way of staying connected to agriculture without being a farmer. It’s a close-knit industry and you can be as involved or disconnected as you want to be,” Erin said.

“At Glencore Grain, I like the diversity it provides from sitting at an operational site and the exposure to the global aspect which I haven’t previously had with small, family run operations.

“I am exposed to more aspects of the company such as logistics, shipping, planning of shipments and receivals into the site around rail movements.”

As a female in a traditionally male industry, Erin has found the odd grower to be taken aback when she answers the phone, but most are great to deal with. She said taking time off to have children was another challenge.

“I was worried that time out of the workforce would mean I’d lose all my contacts and the relationships and knowledge I’d worked hard to build up would be lost. But each time I returned to work, I picked up where I’d left off.

“Juggling three small kids and full-time employment in a demanding industry is tough at times, but I like to think that I am building a good work ethic and demonstrating to my two young girls that women can have a career without sacrificing a family life too.”

Jane McBride, Communications Manager for Glencore Grain and Viterra based in Adelaide, loves mixing her passion for agriculture with her strengths in communications and management.

“I love working in agriculture. My family have been in agriculture for many generations and it is a dynamic, diverse and exciting industry to be in,” Jane said.

“I’ve just finished my seventh harvest with the company and no two years are ever the same. I like the challenge of always trying to improve what we do.”

Jane was recently appointed to a global communications role, in addition to my local role, reflecting the large scope for career growth within the business.

“The scale and diversity of Glencore Agriculture means I am constantly learning and being exposed to different opportunities and challenges. My new role is one example of the business utilising experience from across the world.”

Jane has always felt supported in the industry and taken advantage of the many mentoring programs afforded her, including the Glencore Business Leadership and Management Program. She also sits on the industry-led Women Influencing Agribusiness reference group, providing advice on ways to support women pursuing careers in agriculture.

“There is great value in building and maintaining relationships. I’ve worked with some amazing people who have mentored me along the way, shared their experiences, passion and knowledge.

“I would absolutely recommend a career in agriculture. The outlook for agriculture and food production is very positive and it’s an industry that will have opportunities for years to come.”