“Being a woman involved in the agricultural industry has given me a level of business acumen, empathy and insight that I bring to enhanced whatever career faze I am in.”
Emma Scotney is not your average Farmer; She is a university-educated woman who went on to study Law after her children went to boarding school. Some of you may be familiar with Emma’s story from our Spring 2018 magazine. We thought it would be great to catch up with her and share some more insight from her over the last few years.
After Highschool Emma studied Japanese and History at University, working at a Japanese organisation in Perth after graduating. Emma remarked that it was quite an interesting experience, as she was the only Australian in the office. From 9 AM – 5 PM, Emma was speaking Japanese. “It was as good as being in Japan”.
Meeting her husband, John, not long after entering the workforce. “I realised he came from a place called Piawaning, I had no idea where that was.” At the time, John was in the process of moving to a new holding of land in Badgingarra. “As much as I liked him, I wasn’t sure farming was in the grand plan, but at the end of the day – Love won”. So, as you do for love, Emma resigned from her job, and 27 years ago, she moved with John to form their farming enterprise, raise a family, and be part of the community.
The transition from moving from the city to the country for Emma was initially fascinating. “I was looking at Agriculture and Farming with very rose coloured glasses”, Admitting that she didn’t realise until about 12 months in how hard it was. Noting that she realised there was a lot of uncontrollable risks from climate to handling global commodities and everything in between. “I gained a lot of respect for primary producers and agribusinesses”.
Emma and Her Husband, John, have a 12,000-acre property; with a mixed crop and livestock focus. “We are fortunate to be in a high rainfall area to grow some good crops”. Emma reflects that they are extremely lucky to have great staff who support their enterprise.
In the beginning, Emma worked alongside John and then moved to the office side of the business. Fast forward, her last Son was in Grade 5, leaving for boarding school soon. Emma was worried that the farm was going to be too quiet for her.
There was the opportunity for Emma to enrol in a post-graduate of Law, so she took a leap of faith and enrolled. “You don’t get too many second chances in life”. Admitting it was a bit busy there for a while managing her studies, The farm, her boys and life.
Emma laughingly says, “Being women, we do tend to be able to juggle a few balls in the air at any one time.” With the support of her family and husband and good time management, she was able to graduate after 5 years of part-time study.
Once completed, Emma knew she had a slight problem on her hands. Not only was she a mature aged student, but she also wanted a job that would be flexible with hours and locations – requesting a work from home opportunity. Emma said she owes a lot to HopgoodGanim Lawyers, who allowed her to conduct some of her legal work from home from the farm. Whilst she was there, she worked in Corporate Advisory and Governance.
Most recently, she has been employed by Index Limited, a mining technology company as in house legal counsel. A lot of Emma’s work has been in the Mining industry. “I can relate to a lot of the business pressures, and structures are analogous between my experience having run an agricultural business and mining”.
A week in life for Emma looks a bit different to most. “I spend 2 days a week in Perth, and there is a lot of flexibility overseeding and harvest”. Emma continues by saying her week includes some Farm Business and some time on the farm, some Law and some board responsibilities.
“Every day, it is so important to include some time for the family! They are the greatest joy in my life, my children, husband, family, and community. There is nothing more supportive than a good community, and Badgingarra has that in spades”.
Emma is focusing non-executive director roles on boards. Currently, she is a board director for CinefestOz Film Festival. “I am enjoying this role as it is keeping with my commitment to regional Australia”. Emma has also recently completed her Company Directors certificate “I am exploring opportunities to sit on an ASX listed company in the mining sector”.
As a RRR Woman, we asked Emma her opinion on being a rural woman in the corporate world. “I think I have been raised to always be authentic and genuine.” Emma believes that philosophy has allowed for her to always bring a level of authenticity to everything she does as a friend, board member, within her community or practising Law. Emma adds, “Particularly rural people – they smell inauthenticity a mile away”.
Advice Emma gives RRR Women wanting to change careers is to “go for it”. You no longer have to sacrifice living in a regional area and pursuing a passion or a job opportunity. “There are always silver linings to challenging situations, with COVID being a positive influence on studying online and working from home prospects”.
One of the biggest lessons Emma shares she believes her career in Law and being involved on the farm are not separate things. “Being a woman involved in the agricultural industry has given me a level of business acumen, empathy and insight that I bring and has enhanced whatever career faze I am in.”
“I think the wider community are becoming better educated on how sophisticated primary production is. How sophisticated the people running those businesses are in terms of marketing, managing climate and making decisions.”
For Emma, an advantage that she sees valuable as a RRR woman is that she has come strong. “You have seen how things beyond your control a positive or negative impact can have outside of the fact of how hard you work and how excellent your decisions might be. There are a lot of variables”.
For the future of RRR Women in Western Australia, Emma says, “I hope that regional women let their stars shine – we share our gifts and talents and support one and other”. Emma states that she can’t count how many women have advocated for her (in addition to some wonderful men), opened doors, and provided opportunities. “As women, we need to continue to support each other and create opportunities for everybody’s gifts and talents to shine”.