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Leading diversity in Australian agriculture

Rachel Carson, National Sales Manager at BASF is one of the National Farming Federation’s (NFF) 2019 Diversity in Agriculture Leaders. Rachel is one of six graduates on the leadership program, which is an industry commitment to developing more women into key-decision making roles with an ambition to shape the future of Australia’s food and fibre industry.

“I love working in agriculture and helping growers feed and clothe a growing population in a sustainable way. Working at BASF enables me to work with a diverse team helping to bring innovative solutions our customers, growers and agronomists that will lead Australian agriculture to produce more food from less resources and achieve $100 billion by 2030,” Rachel explains.

Rachel says she sees her main responsibilities of her leadership role is focusing on developing and supporting her team in crop protection and seed sales.

“Most days you’ll find me out in the field with our customers, supporting my team to provide solutions to customer challenges and deliver best-in-class service. I love engaging with the wider agriculture industry of growers, community groups, agriculture consultants and NGOs to better understand how BASF can bring new technology to Australia that will meet their needs in a changing and challenging environment,” she says.

Participating in the NFF’s Leadership program provides Rachel with an opportunity to share her career journey and inspire others to see the vast range of opportunities a career in Australia agriculture holds.

“My career has been fairly diverse. I have always enjoyed working with growers to develop innovative solutions to challenging problems. Through my many roles I have had the opportunity to expand my experience to technical sales, marketing, strategy, new product development and key account management. I have also actively become more involved in the wider agriculture community through Australian Women in Agriculture,” she explains.

The NFF recently released statistics that show while 41% of the Australian agriculture workforce is women, only 18% are in management roles and 2.3% are in CEO positions. Rachel says the industry needs to continue to do more to increase the number of women in leadership roles.

“I believe that breaking down the stigma of women in agri-business commercial roles by telling our story, having strong role models for younger women to follow and create a network of support through mentoring, will help bring more women in to leadership positions particularly in the corporate agribusiness world,” says Rachel.

“Throughout the journey, I have learnt three important lessons - it is ok to take calculated risks, it is ok to fail, but fail fast and take the learnings and always be curious,”

When it comes to her personal leadership style Rachel’s role models have made the biggest impact on her success to date and plans to continue to inspire the next generation of leaders.

“I am a very big fan of Simon Senek’s style of leadership starting with the why. Primarily because agriculture has one of the best “why” out of any industry I could work in. I enjoy sharing my vision with the team and providing them with the support they need to succeed in the field.

“I am only where I am in my career today because I have had really good mentors and coaches. All of them men, that took the time to teach, guide and counsel. I want to do that for the next generation so they have that support. If they have one less barrier than I had to cross, then my job is done”.