It was a small mob of Corriedales and an inspiring agriculture teacher that inspired Sam Wan’s career into agriculture.
Before this, the Elders wool technical coordinator intended to wind up in information technology (IT), but she is thankful to have been able to adapt her skills to an industry she now loves.
Ms Wan didn’t grow up on a farm, her mother migrated from Hong Kong and father from Malaysia, so the first generation Australian-born Chinese Macanese grew up in the Sydney suburb of Blacktown.
She has a long list of formal studies under her belt, including a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture at The University of Sydney, but said the practical learning, on-farm and exhibiting and stewarding at sheep shows, helped her start to learn the “how and why”.
Ms Wan said she aspired to work for Elders, and credits “good timing” to getting into the industry.
“Towards the end of my studies, I saw in the field how Elders was regarded, so thought it’d be a good direction to eventually work for such a company,” she said.
“I had completed work experience with the Australian Wool Testing Authority in Melbourne, and after returned to Sydney to finish up exams, and came across the position advert for an entry level position at Elders.
“I crossed my fingers, went through the application process and found myself back in Melbourne with Elders in July the same year.”
Based at the Melbourne woolstores, Ms Wan said the technical role differs from the regionally-based wool staff, in that it constitutes completing all weekly sale operations in a timely, efficient and professional manner, and providing technical advice to clients.
“I oversee and coordinate other staff day to day, support and initiate projects to add value to the business, and identify areas of improvement to support the regional staff,” she said.
She has also been auctioneering since late 2014, selling weekly at the Melbourne auctions.
She has also taken on an administration role in organising the Elders Southern Clip of the Year Awards, announced at Sheepvention in Hamilton.
Ms Wan is incredibly grateful for her push into agriculture.
“Agriculture has allowed me to see truly stunning areas of Australia, add to my experiences, taught me life skills and meet incredible people, many of whom I still list as my mentors today,” she said.
“I love how dynamic the industry is, the limitless recounts of individual perceptions, about how the industry used to be, how many generations have been farming the same land and hearing them come to life.”
Being nominated as a 2018 Wool Broker of the Year finalist has raised Ms Wan’s expectations of herself heading into the future.
“Over the past six years I believe I have shown a commitment to the growth and improvement [of the industry], focusing on technological innovation,” she said.
“Winner or not, I still aim to continue to contribute everything within my capacity to an industry that has provided me with so much support and opportunity.”
She said she is optimistic about the future of the sheep and wool industry, and to encourage more young people into agriculture, has been involved in the Art4Agriculture Young Farming Champions program.
“It’s exciting times when boundaries continue to be pushed, records break and new products hit the market,” she said.