For the love of farming, family and finance – Lee White
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For the love of farming, family and finance – Lee White

Category Leadership

Lee White

Lee White is the first to admit to her bullish tendency to bite off more than she can chew – then inevitably pile even more onto her plate.

And while the dizzying schedule of this busy mother of three, agribusiness banking professional and farmer, would strike fear into most, Lee is the epitome of calm, driven largely by her deep passion for the beef industry.

“Nothing is a chore when you enjoy what you do, and I’m fortunate to be working in a career and industry I genuinely love, so putting my hand up to contribute is very satisfying,” she said.

Born and bred in Roma, Queensland, Lee is the local Rabobank branch manager, and is grateful to have the opportunity to enjoy a meaningful career while remaining in her home-town.

As a youth torn between a career in banking and agriculture, Lee soon realised she could have both, starting as a 17-year-old at another local bank, before working her way up to be their very first female agribusiness manager – unheard of at the time, and her dream come true.

A strong agricultural background has driven Lee’s flourishing career success, her genuine passion and shared interest in the industry – from pasture improvement to beef genetics – resonating with clients.

“Early in my career I felt that from the minute I stepped out of the vehicle to meet clients on-farm I had to prove myself, and I put a lot of extra pressure on myself – but it soon became clear that as long as you know what you’re talking about, gender is irrelevant.”

“It’s a testament to the progressive nature of rural industries – often not widely realised – and thanks to my Rabobank role I can see first-hand how invaluable women are to business operations,” she said.

“When I visit client’s farms, the women are in the paddocks helping physically, they’re in the office helping administratively and they’re in the kitchen keeping the home fires burning - these women are uncomplaining, unwavering – and my greatest source of inspiration.”

It’s a category of women within which Lee should feel rightly at home.

Together with her husband Tim, a builder, and three children Hugh, 13, Addison, 11 and Flynn, nine, the family purchased a small block north of Roma and lease another to run Angus cattle.

While her weekdays are structured around her role at Rabobank, weekends are spent on the farm, mustering, branding and doing the lick run for the 100 head the White’s currently run.

“Ideally we’d like to buy more land, but in the meantime we’ll focus on building our numbers and recovering after the drought.”

Her role at the bank has also afforded the opportunity to use her practical agricultural skills, as chair of Rabobank’s Beef Commodity Sector Group, one of eight commodity groups established by the bank across major Australian agricultural sectors designed to support and share knowledge with clients.

“I grew up on a beef property, it’s in my blood, and fortunately my role at the bank and on the farm go hand-in-hand, and I feel like I can have my cake and eat it too.”

“Previously, strong women were seen as being intimidating, but I feel in this day and age people like seeing strong women, doing what they love and following their passion – there’s no greater empowerment.”

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