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Raising the Baa - Supporting Future Leaders in the Wool Industry

As a passionate wool producer, I have long wanted to get more involved in the industry and was excited when the opportunity arose to apply for a place on the WoolProducers Raising the Baa Program.

With a lifelong involvement in the wool and sheep sector, having grown up on a merino sheep property on Monaro and now running a fine wool grazing operation with my young family at Bungendore in southern New South Wales, I have long been an advocate for wool and the agricultural sector more broadly. This has seen me forge a career across a range of areas within agriculture including finance, economics, marketing, event management, community engagement, PR and media and as a farmer. And more recently, step out on my own with my own freelance PR, media and communications business, which specialises in telling the stories of rural and regional Australia and disseminating economic material through the media.

But it is my passion for wool that has seen me, together with my family, become active advocates for the sector by being involved in a number of marketing campaigns to showcase the superior qualities of Australian wool. From hosting international fashion designers, media outlets and influencers on our property, we have also been involved in advertising campaigns for the domestic, US and Chinese markets. While these campaigns have demonstrated the power of telling our story to the consumer – and we see this as becoming an increasingly key part of what we do here on the farm – I would like to increasingly have a voice in the direction of the wool industry by putting my hand up for board and industry positions.

And so, it was perfect timing that this opportunity through WoolProducers came up as it included a fully-funded place on the Australian Institute of Company Director (AICD) – Company Directors Course – a course I had wanted to attend for some time.

So, it was with a little bit of trepidation – as I hadn’t applied myself formally to study since obtaining my Ag Economics degree – that I started the AICD course in August. Run over five weeks and in an online format with around 20 fellow participants from across Australia, the course focussed on Governance and the Practice of Directorship, the Legal Environment, Risk and Strategy and Financial Literacy and Performance. The interactive sessions, which included a lot of discussion around case studies, provided a much-needed boost to think more with a directors mindset and to look at the bigger picture. With the course also requiring an extensive assessment component, to put the learnings into practice, it was a relief to recently graduate and I am now looking forward to putting my director hat on at some stage in the future.

I would like to thank WoolProducers for investing in the leadership skills of its growers – as we are its best advocates – and I would encourage any one thinking of enrolling in the AICD to have a go. It has not only given me the confidence and skills to put my hand up for leadership positions but has also helped with the way I approach our own farm business with greater strategic thinking and a broader understanding of risk and governance.

Skye Ward


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