Confident to take on a leadership role

Confident to take on a leadership role

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CBH Group chief external relations officer Brianna Peake (centre) busy on the job.

CBH Group chief external relations officer Brianna Peake (centre) busy on the job.

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In honour of International Day of Rural Women on October 15, Farm Weekly celebrates the women who are making agriculture a better industry to work in for future generations - for women and men alike.

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AS a woman you have a different voice and not only does it deserve to be heard, the industry needs to hear it in order to progress.

That's the advice CBH Group chief external relations officer Brianna Peake had for any woman wanting to be a leader in the agricultural world.

Ms Peake has been at the co-operative for 11 years and has been one of the highest ranked female employees for six, so she is no stranger to being the only female in rooms dominated by men.

"As you get more senior, there are always less and less women, not just in agriculture but across the corporate world and when you're that sole woman, it can feel a little lonely," Ms Peake said.

"But it's changing so quickly and I truly believe it is part of my job to help it evolve and hold the mirror up around the things that just don't cut it anymore.

"Sometimes your voice will sound very different to others because you might have a different lens or focus, but that's so important and you'd be surprised how open people are to hearing that and supporting change."

Having grown up on a mixed cropping and sheep farm at Dalwallinu, there was always a decent chance Ms Peake would end up in agriculture and after studying natural resource management at The University of Western Australia, she landed her first job with the Liebe Group.

After just six months she found herself leading the group as the executive officer, which gave her a broad insight into the industry and was where she started to realise that she enjoyed stakeholder management better than the research.

After travelling the world, her career at CBH started as a casual in the Grower Service Centre (GSC), then onto business development at Daily Grain (which was only partly owned by CBH at the time), back to the GSC as the manager, into corporate affairs as the marketing and trading communications officer, then running government and industry relations and lastly onto external relations general manager, which is now the chief role.

"I think I've got the best job in the whole grains industry, I definitely feel like I've got the best team of people who are very good at what they do and ultimately I reckon ag is an innovative, dynamic and forward thinking sector," Ms Peake said.

"My role is dynamic - you have to be across our whole business and therefore whatever I do on any given day is so varied from dealing with stakeholders, preparing a big campaign, liaising with community partners, prepping media and interacting with government."

There is no denying that Ms Peake absolutely loves her job and that she has worked hard to get there.

She believes agriculture is an industry that should have no issue attracting incredibly talented women and sees it as part of her responsibility to help that happen.

"I feel like I have a really big role to play in evolving the diversity of our industry - the more senior I get the more accountable I feel for that, so I'm constantly trying to foster talent and give women a boost," Ms Peake said.

"The more confident you get, the more you bring to the table, but confidence is not something you can just wake up one day and decide to be, it comes with a bit of experience and a few bruises.

"My advice is to own your job, know it well, respect the expertise you bring to the table and make sure you're doing your job well - if you're doing all of those things, then back yourself and confidence will come, you are valuable and we need you to be a part of our industry."

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