Our People Clare Weatherly
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Clare’s new Atherton Tablelands adventure

Category Our People

Clare Weatherly

When posed with naming her favourite feature of the Atherton Tablelands she newly calls home, Clare Weatherly’s response is akin to any good agronomist or farmer – it’s the soil.

But considering Clare is actually a Rabobank rural manager, the answer speaks volumes, highlighting her genuine passion for agriculture and the mechanics behind a good farming system.

Raised on a beef, sheep and dairy operation in south west Victoria, and with a property of her own near to that – which she currently leases out – Clare’s interest in her clients extends well beyond their balance sheets.

“My natural tendency leans towards farming, and sometimes during a client visit I realise the farm chat dominates any financial discussions, but I think having that genuine interest in my client’s farming operations leads to stronger relationships, and I gain enormous job satisfaction helping those enterprises grow,” she said.

And with her impressive suite of experience and skills, it’s a role, and region, that perfectly complements her career progression thus far.

An agribusiness degree from The University of New England sparked her interest in finance, and was followed by six years of practical farming experience as she restored her newly purchased Victorian property back to health. It was here that she gained valuable, first-hand knowledge and experience in vegetation management and business growth opportunities as she embarked on growing out dairy heifers for a corporate dairy farm.

Following this Clare worked as a business and pricing analyst for a wholesale fruit and vegetable distributor, within Melbourne’s busy Epping Fruit Market. 

“Having grown up in a traditional sheep, beef, wheat and dairy region I had very little experience in horticulture, but I was converted immediately, it’s such a dynamic sector – and it was a pretty wild role,” she laughed.

Conceding that three whirlwind years at that pace was enough, Clare took time off to look for a banking role that combined all her skills, spending months quizzing her farming network on their positive banking experiences – with Rabobank the name on everyone’s lips.

“Before I spoke to any banks I wanted to get a grass-roots feel from the farming community - I wanted to be with a bank that farmers genuinely trusted and enjoyed working with, and in the end Rabobank was the only bank I was interested in working with.”

And her fate seemed sealed after a recruitment agency reiterated this sentiment, suggesting that North Queensland was where she needed to be, and Rabobank was where she needed to be working. 

“I’ve always said I’d move anywhere for opportunity, but initially I wasn’t so sure about North Queensland – it’s a heck of a long way from Victoria – but it only took an interview with Rabobank for a rural officer role based in Townsville to know that that was the job I wanted!”

Clare spent 18 months in the role, before being promoted to a rural manager, based between Atherton and Ingham, in April – a move she describes as a location lottery win.

“Coincidentally I had a week in Atherton for a holiday last year, and thought it was just the best place in Queensland – I never considered it in terms of work, but boy did I jump at the opportunity when it arose.”

As an avid adventure-racer, trail-racer and kayaker, the outdoor lifestyle of Atherton appealed, and Clare has already met a social group thanks to sport. She has also booked in to volunteer some time with Meals-on-Wheels and tree-planting through the local Rabobank branch.

“It’s such an amazing place to live, the sun is always shining and the grass is always growing and this seems to be reflected in the community – everyone is so happy and optimistic.”

But for Clare there is one thing that trumps the region’s lifestyle, and that’s the agricultural potential and opportunity. 

“More than anything, I just love the soil here. It’s like nothing I’ve seen before, it can grow anything, and it’s so exciting to be working with a diversity of commodities – beef, sugarcane, avocado, berries, citrus, bananas – you name it.”

And for a girl who adventure races for fun –  adventure racing is an endurance competition that incorporates a team running, riding and kayaking and can last up to two weeks – to say Clare is up for a challenge is an understatement.

This new role, she believes, will fit the bill perfectly.

“I’m really excited about the work I get to do here on the tablelands, my clients have so many growth options – they’re often agile and like to mix it up and it’s a thrill being part of that process with them – expansion, feasibility studies, diversification. It’s a bit like an adventure-race, based on teamwork, timing and calculated risk and keeping your eye on reaching that end goal.”

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