Shaping red meat to attract female talent

Shaping red meat to attract female talent

PAVING THE WAY: Laura Ryan, from the United Kingdom, is the founder and global chair of Meat Business Women. She will speak at the Brisbane MBW event on October 9.

PAVING THE WAY: Laura Ryan, from the United Kingdom, is the founder and global chair of Meat Business Women. She will speak at the Brisbane MBW event on October 9.


Meat Business Women Brisbane event shaping up to be a sell-out.


WHEN British marketing wiz Laura Ryan urges disruption, it's not just talk. She knows it's no easy path but she also knows the rewards are substantial.

Ms Ryan has first class honours in marketing, a masters in management and has collected the UK Business Leader of Tomorrow prize.

She is not a farmer's daughter, nor does she have a background in butchery. She's a self-described 'townie'.

Yet she worked her way through the ranks to be appointed the first female sector strategy director for the UK Beef and Lamb Board.

After successfully launching premium red meat brands in a large butchery in the north east of England in her graduate position, Ms Ryan found she had "fallen in love" with the meat industry.

In her trailblazing role with the Beef and Lamb Board, she led the strategic review and development for the beef and lamb sector in England by identifying key challenges and opportunities which deliver long term growth.

And there again she found it necessary to 'disrupt'. Chairing a group of farmers and processors, time and again she was the only female in the room. So she set about creating what is today a global movement that has garnered the attention of the United Nations.

Meat Business Women, launched in 2015, is about shaping the image, culture and landscape of the red meat game to make it attractive to female talent, and to support the women already working within it.

With speakers including HRH Princess Anne and renowned animal behaviourist Temple Grandin at networking events, MBW is making its mark and growing quickly.This year it was launched in New Zealand and Australia.

The Melbourne event was a sell-out and AMIC is now bringing the second MBW event to Brisbane. Themed "Advancing the Culture of the Industry", the October 9 affair will have an impressive line-up of thought-provoking and inspiring speakers, with a focus on what tangible steps can be taken to achieve real change within the industry.

Laura Ryan will be a keynote speaker.

Research in the UK shows that more than 90 per cent of women end up in the post farmgate meat industry by accident rather than by design, she says.

"Yet the rewards of working in this industry are enormous. We need to be showcasing the meat industry as the great career destination it is," she said.

What was it that Ms Ryan fell in love with?

"The sense of community and the way the industry communicates - it's straight talking. I love the pace and the way no two days are the same," she said.

"This is an industry that is dying for talent. What that means is so much is on offer, such incredible opportunity, for those who want to put the work in. If you want a senior position, it's there."

Ms Ryan believes the challenges the red meat industry faces - from animal welfare to environmental sustainability - also make it a career with enormous potential for women.

"The flip side of those challenges is huge opportunity for women to come in and think differently and problem solve," she said.

Ms Ryan addressed the United Nations last month - the organisation has earmarked MBW as a global solution for their sustainable development goals - and she is now fielding emails on a daily basis from people around the world looking to join up.

One of the most positive trends she sees coming through in the 'rising stars' of the meat industry is the willingness to disrupt.

"Recently I helped judged an award for up-and-coming talent in our industry and finalists were demonstrating how they were challenging the norm," she said.

"For example, traditionally in the meat industry it has been about working long hours but one finalists was working four days a week in order to complete an MBA on her fifth day.

"It requires confidence to be disruptive but success comes from working smarter, not harder."

A voluntary committee has been established to work alongside AMIC on the future of MBW in the Australian meat industry.

AMIC CEO Patrick Hutchinson says the committee is made up of an experienced and committed group of women who have great networks that other women can tap into and leverage.

MBW is a strong international organisation, and AMIC is excited to bring their already successful initiative to Australian shores, Patrick says.

"We won't be reinventing the wheel but bringing new initiatives and events to women in our meat sector, giving them opportunities for success, both inside and outside of their chosen career," he said.

The venue for the Brisbane October 9 event will be MODA Events Portside in Hamilton. For details visit


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