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Beyond the Bale : December 2018
BLAKE CHANDLER Although not from the land, while completing his Bachelor of Agriculture Economics degree at the University of Sydney, Blake immersed himself in agriculture, spending time in rural NSW working on Merino farms. When I first received and accepted the offer to be a part of AWI’s inaugural Graduate Training Program, I was in equal parts excit- ed and nervous. Freshly graduated from the University of Sydney, working for a Research & Development Corporation was something that had not been on my horizon until I saw AWI’s call for graduates. On paper, the program, consisting of six rotations through AWI’s main departments including six months abroad in London, Hong Kong and China, excited me. Developing hands-on knowledge across the supply chain from Australian farms to Chinese mills and European fashion houses would provide a unique in-depth learning experience. What could not be conveyed through the program’s brief description was how welcoming all those involved in this program – AWI staff, woolgrowers, and industry partners – would be and how eager they are to share their knowledge and experience. My first project with AWI was assisting with organising the sixth annual National Merino Challenge which introduced me to more than 150 secondary and tertiary students eager to learn about the wool industry. Skilled woolgrowers involved in the event were motivated not just to interact with the future of the wool industry, but myself as well. My time spent in Hong Kong and China was no different. Industry partners across the supply chain took the time and effort to educate me on what they do, why they do it and how they fit in the bigger picture of wool’s story. Seeing wool being scoured, combed and eventually spun into yarn illuminated Australian wool’s importance in a long, global supply chain. Appreciating and understanding the varied facets and unique challenges of all the processes that combine to produce woollen products has been a challenging but rewarding experience. Despite having lived in cities my entire life and having touched my first sheep half a year before applying for this program, I felt I had something to offer Australia’s woolgrowers but wasn’t exactly sure what itwas–andIamnotquitesureIknow what it is yet. However, now half way through the 18-month program, the wool industry has opened more doors than I could have imagined. BEN MADGWICK Before graduating from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Design Computing, Ben grew up on properties throughout the Liverpool plains of NSW and spent his formative years assisting his family in wool production. My AWI graduate program started on the other side of the fence to Blake and Ellie, with the first six months of the program devoted to assisting the Marketing, Fashion Communications, Digital and Process Innovation & Education Extension teams. The time spent across these teams was an excellent introduction into the variety of projects that AWI executes across the supply chain. Conducting experiments to show the biodegradability of wool in soil, editing and featuring on AWI's podcast ‘The Yarn’ and redesigning trade show stands are just a few examples of projects I was able to assist on, with each exposing me to a different facet of the organisation. The past three months have been spent working out of The Woolmark Company’s London office, where the team works with esteemed brands across the UK and Europe to ensure Australian Merino wool is present in the windows of high street retailers year-round. Aside from the marketing partnerships, the London office also directs the UK and European educational programs, manages the International Woolmark Prize and the Woolmark Performance Challenge, all of which I was able to support. I have also been fortunate enough to spend time in Europe, assisting the French office with the Première Vision trade show and touring Italian mills with which The Woolmark Company works closely. These travels have given me invaluable exposure into the global supply chain and the knowledge to contribute to the industry in coming years. On my return to the Sydney office in December, I will jump the fence and join the Sheep Production team, turning my hand to the unfamiliar territory of agricultural sciences. Before learning of the AWI graduate program, I would not have imagined a graduate program so diverse within one company, but now I find myself half way through it, equally excited about the remaining time and the prospects beyond it. AWI will be present at The Big Meet career events taking place across the month of March in Brisbane, Perth, Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney. Here, AWI we will be showcasing the program and speaking to upcoming graduates about the program in preparation for the 2020 intake. Applications for the 2020 AWI Graduate Training program open on 1 April and close on 30 April 2019. To apply, please select the AWI Graduate Training Program at www.wool.com/careers or apply through Seek or LinkedIn. INTERESTED IN JOINING THE 2020 PROGRAM? networks across the country, which included supporting the RAMping Up Repro workshops with Sheep Connect NSW. One of the highlights was the Fibre of Football campaign back in the West with Fremantle Dockers’ captain Nat Fyfe and West Coast Eagles’ (premiership) captain Shannon Hurn, sporting their woollen AFL guernseys with two handsome rams. As country lads themselves (Fyfe and Hurn, that is), it just highlighted how many people are connected to our industry and it was an absolute pleasure to have a yarn with them for AWI’s podcast ‘The Yarn’. With 98% of our wool exported, it’s hard to comprehend the size of the supply chain we are dealing with beyond our shores. Only until visiting the raw wool processing plants in China and being exposed to the fashion world in Asia, did I realise how oblivious I had been. Some snippets of my experiences in Shanghai include meeting several of the 60 brands that AWI collaborates with in Greater China, learning about the international wool trade at the Nanjing Wool Market Conference, and promoting the Live & Breathe campaign to endorse Australian Merino wool in activewear, which included a Chinese yoga class with ElleFit Magazine (or EllieFit, you might say!). In Hong Kong, the Wool Resource Centre is a truly remarkable centre for showcasing the latest and greatest fabrics from The Wool Lab sourcing guide, product developments and Australia’s best natural fibre. The wool family at AWI has been nothing short of welcoming and supportive since day dot and I’ve met so many incredible people along the wool supply chain who’ve shared their years of experience and advice with me, for which I truly appreciate. The Australian wool industry has offered me so much and I look forward to returning the favour at the end of the program Ellie Bigwood at a RAMping Up Repro workshop at Gulgong, NSW. ON FARM 39
In the Shops - March 2019