THE Cattle Council of Australia's Rising Champions program provides beef's future leaders with the chance to hone their leadership skills and network with industry movers and shakers.
With the program in its 10th year, Stock Journal caught up with three past South Australian representatives to find out more about their time as a Rising Champion.
TRAVELLING to Longreach, Qld, and Emerald, Qld, as the South Australian Rising Champion in 2010 gave Jake Phillips an opportunity to engage with industry representatives from Meat & Livestock Australia and the Cattle Council of Australia.
"It was certainly a worthwhile experience for me - I went on to work with MLA, because I was inspired by what I experienced on that trip," Mr Phillips said.
"We had the opportunity to sit in on MLA and Cattle Council's annual general meetings, and were able to engage with their directors, and also undertook leadership development with the Rising Champions group."
There was a point when I realised that I don't work in the cattle industry - I work in the food industry.
After working for MLA and the Australian Business Research Institute for about five years, he moved back to SA to work for Teys Australia as a livestock buyer and has more recently moved into a supply chain role, as manager of Teys' branded beef, 36° South, launched in 2018, and is the quality assurance manager at the Teys Australia Naracoorte plant.
"The Rising Champions was the first event involving both CCA and MLA, and gave me very good exposure to the industry stakeholders and to see first hand, how the red meat industry organisations are set up," he said.
"It's very important to be open minded. There was a point when I realised that I don't work in the cattle industry - I work in the food industry and all we're doing is trying to provide food for people all over the world."
Growing up on a mixed cattle and cropping property near Dubbo, NSW, gave Kitty Sheridan a sound base in cattle management, graduating with a Bachelor in Animal Science after studying at Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, NSW.
Wanting a more expansive view of the cattle industry, Ms Sheridan opted for a hands-on job. She applied for a position as pen rider in the then-Elders-owned Charlton Feedlot and was promoted to leading hand within three months.
After Teys Australia bought the Charlton Feedlot at the end of 2014, she was offered a job at its Naracoorte plant and has been there ever since.
Ms Sheridan represented SA as the state's Rising Champion in 2015, after deciding that she wanted to know more about the inner workings of policy-making within the cattle industry, travelling to Canberra to participate in an intensive leadership program with the other state finalists.
Related reading: Elisha Parker named 2020 Rising Champion
There they had the opportunity to meet with leaders of the Australian beef industry, participate in policy sub-committees, more particularly the Industry Systems and Food Safety sub-committee that she is still a part of today, and to develop their knowledge of key industry issues.
She was offered a role on the sub-committee of CCA's Rising Champion program and is also serving on the SA Beef Industry Blueprint committee and the Limestone Coast Red Meat Cluster, and has just returned from an industry tour in Japan.
"You see so much more of what goes on behind the scenes and don't actually realise what goes into maintaining markets, marketing, and budgets," she said. "Rising Champions has been a really good opportunity to be part of."
One of the state's most recent Rising Champion representatives, Kate Fairlie is a fifth-generation livestock producer based in Mount Gambier.
She has been involved with cattle all her life, taking a hands-on role in her family's Lanark Angus stud.
Ms Fairlie is transitioning into her new role as territory ruminant manager for a stock feed company, based in the Gippsland region of Vic, after being employed as the southern regional manager for Beachport Liquid Minerals, looking after producers in SA, Vic and Tas.
With a Bachelor of Agricultural Science under her belt and having held key positions on the Angus Youth Committee, Ms Fairlie has a keen interest in consumer education, biosecurity and animal welfare and saw an opportunity to participate in the Rising Champion program as a natural progression.
Often, as producers, we can't see the work that goes on with policy-making but they're continually working for solutions to future issues.
"I saw this as a great opportunity to find out what happens more on a governance level," she said.
"Often, as producers, we can't see the work that goes on with policy-making but they're continually working for solutions to future issues."
Ms Fairlie was encouraged to apply for the Rising Champions program and was selected as SA's representative in 2018.
"I wanted to know more about what happens in the beef industry at government and corporate level and having being part of the program, there's always an opportunity to further my career into the corporate world if I choose to," she said.
During her time in the Rising Champions program, she was able to establish some solid networks, meeting key industry and company leaders and gaining inside business knowledge that will contribute to further opportunities in the future should she decide to take a more corporate role in her career.
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