Harnessing the power of ag
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Harnessing the power of ag - Donna Matheson

Category Leadership

Donna Matheson

Little did Rabobank Armidale Rural Manager, Donna Matheson realise that the childhood tractor cab banter she shared with her beloved father would have such a profound impact on her life – both personally and professionally. 

Its’ not only equipped her with the skills necessary for farm life and business, it ignited a passion for agriculture that today remains as strong as ever.

“Dad has always believed and advocated that girls can do anything, and both my brothers and I were provided with the same information and our opinion was listened to without judgement,” she reflects.

“During the many hours I would spend on the tractor, we would talk about everything from why we were planting a specific crop in a specific paddock, to working out cost of productions, to life in general.”

A fourth-generation farmer, Donna’s agricultural lineage is broad, and includes dairy and pineapple farming grandparents, and a youth spent on her parent’s broadacre cropping property at Dalby on the Darling Downs.

With her family still extremely active in the Dalby district – her father still farms the original property he purchased over 30 years ago, and her brothers have both purchased broadacre cropping properties in the region – Donna and her husband Ryan jumped at the opportunity to run their own sheep and cattle operation two years ago.

Even the fact their New England property was purchased on the eve of NSW’s worst drought in history didn’t diminish the thrill.

Donna Matheson

“We ended up with 63 poddy lambs - I certainly learnt more about sheep in 2019 than I will probably learn in the next 20 years!” she laughed.

Through her passion for educating and inspiring the younger generations about all things agriculture, she is proud that her children Alyssa, 15, and Cody, 14, understand where their food comes from and the importance agriculture plays within our economy. 

“Both my children love the farm and they have their own special interests, my daughter is fantastic in the sheep yards and my son has picked up my keen interest in animal health.”

As a green tinge is now spanning the district, Donna feels extremely grateful to enjoy a farming lifestyle, whilst pursuing a meaningful career in rural banking.

“I always knew I wanted to be a farmer, and whilst I fell into banking, I realised quickly that I had found my niche.”

Starting in retail banking in Dalby, Donna worked her way up into the commercial and agribanking space, and recognised immediately that she wanted to work specifically with farmers – her acute understanding of the unique challenges faced by rural clients a genuine interest.

Having now been with Rabobank Armidale for four years, Donna said she still feels truly blessed to be part of her client’s day-to-day lives, and often receives wedding or baby photos celebrating their milestones.

Donna Matheson

“Our clients are the most inspiring, resilient and good-natured people who are always willing to invite us into their home and business,” she said. “Every time I go out on-farm or speak with a client on the phone I often finish the conversation and say to my colleagues ‘they are the nicest people you could ever meet’.”

While she was, at first, surprised by the number of Rabobank staff members who were from a farm, or owned a farm, Donna now believes this is perhaps key to the strong client relationships Rabobank enjoys.

“Across the business everyone is so easy to talk to regardless of their job title – it must be a country thing!”

For National Ag Day the Rabobank Armidale branch will be celebrating with a morning tea, and in its usual style, Donna smiles, there will no doubt be some funny on-farm stories to celebrate.

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