Driving force to connect rural women
“Community and connection can be the difference in a person making a region a home and having true quality of life."
L-R: Courteney with colleague Teigan Lieschke, Assistant Manager ANZ Albury.
The driving force behind the upcoming ANZ virtual event to celebrate the International Day of Rural Women, ANZ Assistant Agribusiness Manager Courteney Kemp shares her journey, her passion for agriculture and community and her advice to those thinking of entering the industry.
When I applied for University, I told my family I was going to go into banking after finishing my degree. I wanted to better understand the industry and help educate the next generation of farmers on how banking ties in with agriculture, so we can see more young people back on the land.
Growing up in a farming family, we always had a really great relationship with our banker. I have always seen the bank as an integral part of the decision making process and have experienced some great examples of what it means to be in relationship banking.
A few years into working full time in our family business, I went back to study my degree in Agriculture so I could combine a job that allowed me to continue to learn within an industry I am so passionate about.
I think ANZ does a really great job in supporting the Agriculture sector through the people they employ, the work that goes into our policies, our community engagement in rural and regional settings as well as empowering our bankers to really own their businesses in these communities.
Courteney with her pup Freddie on a farm in King Valley, Victoria.
While University took me to the city, I knew I was destined to return to regional Australia. I grew up on a remote cattle station in Central Queensland, two hours from the nearest major town. I cherish the lifestyle I was privileged to have throughout my childhood.
The sheer natural beauty of regional Australia, its people, their passion and pride for their communities constantly energises me and I couldn’t see myself living a life where I don’t have access and connection to the regions or the people.
I have lived in metro cities (Melbourne and Brisbane), regional centres, small country towns and a remote cattle station; there is just something special about regional Australia. It can be a real slice of paradise.
Regional communities are filled with hard working, down to earth people who often work to extremes to keep their communities alive.
Many women in regional areas don’t have sufficient opportunities to network with others in their industry, where they can speak with others who may be facing the same business or personal challenges.
In Central and North East Victoria, I’ve been fortunate to be a co-founder of a ‘Women in Ag’ networking group that provides a forum for women to share experiences, form meaningful relationships and foster friendships along the way.
“Community and connection can be the difference in a person making a region a home
and having true quality of life.”
I have experienced first-hand how challenging it can be moving to a new region and how important those community connections are in making you feel welcome and putting your mind at ease.
Being able to connect to others can provide a boost when things are hard and for most of rural Australia, the past few years have been really tough with drought, fires and now the pandemic.
Community events and field days can be the one chance some people have to get away from the farm - even just for a few hours - to catch up with people and enjoy social interaction.
For those in really remote locations, these events may be the only in-person interaction they have for weeks. It is so important to have these opportunities, particularly for women, as women can do from up to 2-3 “full time” roles, especially if they are raising a family on a farm.
It’s a good chance to fill your cup up again with laughter, connections, shared experiences and just knowing you have others around you that get what you are going through is a comfort.
In 2016/2017 I completed ANZ’s Internship program in Queensland, where I was studying a Bachelor of Agribusiness. When I finished I joined the 2018 Agribusiness ANZ Graduate program. Along with gaining a diverse experience, I saw an opportunity to have a meaningful impact within the Agricultural sector.
I spent 18 months total across three geographies on the Graduate Program in Far North Queensland, Melbourne and Albury before commencing my current permanent position as an Assistant Agribusiness Manager in Shepparton, Central Victoria.
Both the Internship and the Graduate program presented so many invaluable opportunities, including a period working in head office. I grew up in a family farming operation in the Beef industry, however the program gave me exposure to so much more of the agricultural sector and allowed me to expand my knowledge beyond my comfort zone.
Not only has the program provided me with fantastic lessons, but also allowed me to make lifelong connections and friends and learn so much about myself in the process.
All hands on deck. Courteney with a calf at Beef Week Rockhampton 2018, and on a dairy farm as part of ANZ’s graduate program.
I am fortunate to have the support to drive and create opportunities in our community for women in agriculture to connect with one another. It has been a pleasant surprise to work for such a large organisation that aligns so well with what I see as important in communities and helping them to thrive.
I appreciate all the support, encouragement and empowerment the leaders at ANZ have given me as they’ve got behind so many initiatives. I’ve been really lucky to have been able to network and work alongside so many trailblazing, inspiring women in Agriculture throughout my short career to date.
With International Day of Rural Women coming up on 15 October, it’s a great opportunity to celebrate rural women who work for (and with) ANZ, to showcase some remarkable women in our communities and most importantly celebrate the strength that all rural women have. Events like this allow people to a find the upside in situations and showcase why we live and work in rural Australia and why we love it so much.
One of the amazing women I have met on my journey is ANZ Agribusiness Manager, Port Augusta (SA) Mikaela Rasmus. Mikaela and I met at Beef Week, Queensland in 2018 and I was blown away by how down to earth and genuine Mikaela is and how easy I could relate to her.
It has been a real privilege to have the opportunity to reconnect with Mikaela through this initiative and I am so inspired by her story - I feel she truly embodies what it means to be a relationship banker and a rural woman.
To women wanting to enter the Agri industry– I say ‘Go for it!’ The current environment has shown us we can work remotely from almost anywhere with a good internet connection (this is improving more than you would realise in rural locations!).
Regional and rural locations provide access to so many beautiful places without the hectic pace of the city and the communities have so much to offer.
During the height of COVID in Australia, I spent a month this year working from home at my family’s cattle station in western Queensland. It was really special to be able to log off at the end of the day and spend time with the family, driving around the farm, doing some farm work, getting out into the wide open spaces and realising there is certainly more to life than just being able to have everything at your fingertips all the time - like you do in the city.
Working in agriculture is such a rewarding industry to be a part of and a truly welcoming community. You are exposed to some of the most inspiring and resilient people, and their passion and resilience is contagious.
There is so much to be proud of within the Australian Agriculture Sector, and I’d encourage more people to take an interest in it. Be curious, ask questions, get involved. Farmers love to talk about their farms and their industry because they are so passionate about it.
So for those considering it I’d say “Get on the farm, get in the tractor and ask questions… you will never regret it.”
Weathering the drought