In advance of International Women’s Day (8 March), we have invited Meagan Lobban (Director Trade Operations at Olam Cotton) to provide us with an interview on her experience in the cotton industry:
When did you join the cotton industry?
I joined the cotton industry by sheer luck in September 2007. It has been a wild and wonderful ride!
What do you like the most about the cotton industry?
The people who shape it.
What are the biggest challenges you have had to face?
Many and varied each year – strangely no 2 seasons are ever exactly the same! I have had to work through many natural disasters – significant flooding causing entire crop loss and damage to producers’ homes; gin pad fires caused by a hot spark resulting in a loss of 95% of stock on site; extreme drought resulting in the smallest produced crop in Australian history. Dealing with financial risk, loss and recovery with stakeholders in these times is always challenging both professionally and personally.
What do you think is the biggest challenge for women in the industry?
Each segment of the value chain comes with it’s own challenges. Gender equality in agronomy has improved significantly over the years and offers different and flexible pathways for opportunity. Similarly, sales and marketing roles within procurement arms of the trade are being increasingly held by women – China leads the way in this space. In the cotton merchandising segment, women continue to be in the minority of the trading and leadership teams of the major trade houses. Women must encourage others to engage and participate; this can be powerful to instil confidence which is so critical to self-belief, motivation and success.
Have you experienced many changes in the industry which have affected you as a woman?
The most significant in this regard is the change in corporate-social responsibility around the need for more equal representation of females in corporate settings, management and leadership teams. There has been greater awareness and acknowledgement of the diversity of contribution that females have to offer business, and this has opened up opportunities that perhaps would not have happened so organically 10 years ago.
What is your message to other women in the industry?
It is great working in a truly international industry with a relatively small but firm network of like-minded individuals.
In honour of International Women’s Day, we are offering a 50% discount for any female who applies for new ICA Individual Membership during March.
Full details of the offer >