As featured in The Country Web Number 60 Winter 2014 issue.
A finalist in the Women in Australian Agribusiness (WIAA) 100 and aged just 29, Georgie Aley has achieved significant success at executive management level within the agricultural sector in Australia and internationally. She is currently the Managing Director of the Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council Ltd and before that worked with Grain Growers Limited as the General Manager of Grower Interest.
Georgie is currently Chair of the Future Farmers Network (the only national agricultural youth network in Australia) and has been a Director since 2008. She is also a Non-Executive Director of Pulse Australia Ltd and Director of Workforce Consulting Pty Ltd.
Georgie was elected to the inaugural Global Youth Ag Summit Board of Directors, an international conference established to get youth under 25 to find solutions to address the global challenge of food security. Georgie has a strong passion for the sustainable future of Australian food and agribusiness industries and was last year recognised for her outstanding leadership in Australia and New Zealand’s food and agribusiness industries as the inaugural recipient of the Rabobank Emerging Agribusiness Leader Award.
What motivated you to become involved? I initially became involved in industry committees and boards as I felt I could offer a broad spectrum of opportunities to these organisations based on my exposure to networks and information gained through my professional role. With my primary focus at the time on young farmers and their engagement and ongoing education, I felt I was in a position to drive results and outcomes on their behalf. My motivation has been sustained over the years having witnessed the impact on people through key activities I have been involved with. Some of this was through feedback from young farmers telling me how my efforts have directly assisted them to not just survive but thrive in what they are doing – that is motivating and rewarding enough!
What do you get out of being in these roles? I get to see industry at a range of cross‑sections. I’m able to bring perspectives gained from cross-industry exposure to my roles and with that, add value to the organisations I’m involved with. For me this provides a sense of satisfaction that I can give back to an industry that has provided me with a rewarding career. It allows me to effect change and improve aspects of the industry that will ensure we have a sustainable and profitable food and agricultural sector in Australia.
Have you experienced any obstacles? The only real obstacles were the ones I placed on myself. I think there is a difference between being arrogant or cocky from confident. As a young woman from a city background, I have at times questioned my ability and knowledge and lacked confidence in my capabilities. I believe that is part of any ongoing self-learning and from this I’ve not only been able to ask questions but also to identify the unique skills and capabilities I bring to a table. I’m now more comfortable as I know the contribution I am able to provide.
Where do you get your support? I am a firm believer in mentors but they need to be the ‘right’ one. I’ve been fortunate to have two great mentors – each providing me with different challenges on a personal and professional level. This has helped to develop my thinking and build my resilience. The right mentor, the one who you can develop friendship and mutual trust with, is invaluable when you are operating at an industry/ board level. I also have immense family support that provides me with an outlet free from judgement – very handy at times!
What is your final message to other women wanting to be more involved in decision-making? Start now! Work out what your area of interest is and where you would like to contribute. Start getting involved in industry updates, events and other significant meetings. Meet the people involved in making the decisions and ask them questions about your area of interest. Volunteer to assist with an upcoming project or committee – you will be surprised how easy it is to get involved. Make sure you know what you bring to the ‘table’ and be realistic about the workload you can carry – I always believe it’s better to under commit and over deliver!