THIS MONTH WE CHATTED WITH RRR NETWORK STUDENT MEMBER MATILDA LLOYD. MATILDA IS IN HER FINAL YEAR AT CURTIN UNIVERSITY, COMPLETING A DOUBLE DEGREE IN LAW AND COMMERCE WITH A MAJOR IN MARKETING. SHE SHARES WITH US HER CAREER PATH SO FAR, HOW SHE FOUND HER COUNTRY COMMUNITY WITHIN THE CITY AND HER FUTURE ASPIRATIONS.
CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF?
I was born in Boyup Brook near Bridgetown but moved around during my childhood living in Jerdacuttup, Hopetoun, Albany and Broome. My parents were both from the Wheatbelt and involved in the agricultural industry. My primary school years were spent in Broome, which was a great experience. We moved back to Albany for high school, where I attended Great Southern Grammar, after which I took a gap year to work.
I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do at the end of school. I loved art. However, I couldn’t see myself as an illustrator or similar. I also enjoyed literature, economics, and law, so I thought about what would give me the best opportunities and broad experience.
I chose to study law and commerce, majoring in marketing at Curtin University. When Curtin came to visit during the final years of high school, they stood out. They were very welcoming, particularly towards country kids, so it was an easy choice.
DID YOU FACE ANY CHALLENGES MOVING FROM THE COUNTRY TO THE CITY TO STUDY?
Initially, I was very excited to be in the city, but it wasn’t easy being on my own. I felt a bit lonely and like I didn’t fit in. We had lived a fairly remote lifestyle for much of my childhood, and we were a close-knit family. Our parents had brought us up to be independent, but I still found it hard, plus I was living off my gap year savings. I had school friends, which was helpful, but I joined the footy club, where I met other girls from the country. This is a great group, and they have helped me through university for the last four years.
I felt a little hesitant at one point about my degree choice. It was towards the end of the third year. I loved agriculture, and many of my friends were doing degrees in agriculture or similar. I couldn’t envision a legal career based in the country at that stage. I didn’t have any role models. I felt a bit lost, so I decided to head up North to do some work experience at a cattle station. This was a great experience and made me realise how much I missed living in the country.
I began looking for role models and found people. A friend gave me the magazine Graziher which focuses on rural and regional women and shares stories about their careers, businesses, and farm lives. This was a pivotal moment for me. Soon after, I reached out to the RRR Network and attended the RRR’ Stronger Conference’ in 2019. I became more involved and interested, making connections and learning a lot. I found there were many opportunities for professionals in the country. There are gaps in the market for legal professionals and general business professionals who want to be based in regional areas. This pushed me to finish the degree, and I’m enjoying it now.
WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR HOPES FOR THE FUTURE?
I am staying open to opportunities. I’m very interested in the live export industry and have started following the sheep collective and cattle collective. These initiatives aim to educate people about the agricultural industry and the export industry in particular. There are opportunities in this area in terms of policy legislation and reform but also in educating people.
A goal would be to use my legal and commerce background to work within the agricultural industry and help inform people, serve the industry, and improve it. I’m looking forward to graduating and possibly doing some community legal work up North or in the Wheatbelt and see what happens after that.
I have to qualify as a legal practitioner, which will take a few years and then there will be more opportunities, hopefully.
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE VOLUNTARY WORK YOU ARE INVOLVED IN?
I have a few friends involved in agricultural groups who I help out regularly. I’ve assisted with the Young Farmer’s Challenge, and I’m the Social Events Representative for the Curtin Wesley Football club women’s team. I also sometimes help my mum, who is involved with Sands – an organisation supporting people experiencing miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death.
ANY FINAL ADVICE TO YOUNG WOMEN IN RURAL, REGIONAL AND REMOTE AREAS?
The landscape is changing in terms of rural careers, and it’s about reaching out and finding people and a community that is really supportive of that. If I hadn’t actively sought out women working in the country, I wouldn’t have realised the opportunities. I wouldn’t have discovered the RRR Network, publications and other communities. You’ve got to talk to people and ask questions. I thought living in the country meant limited choices, but thankfully my belief about that has been shaken up. Don’t doubt the opportunities!
You can find out more about Matilda through her Linkedin profile.