An exciting new role to match Lee-Anne’s unwavering energy
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An exciting new role to match Lee-Anne’s unwavering energy

Category Our People

An exciting new role to match Lee-Anne’s unwavering energy

Lee-Anne Warren has an energy that inspires, and a positivity that’s infectious – with the conversation tempo rising significantly when it comes to her beloved South Australian Riverland region and its people.

“I was born and bred in Renmark, and I’m still here to this day,” she beams. “It’s a community I’m extremely passionate about, which is why I’ve never left.”

Recently announced as the region’s Rabobank Area Manager, Lee-Anne now has an even greater opportunity to contribute, by supporting local agricultural businesses.

"I've always loved working with our local farmers, they're hardworking, honest, and proud people – and the beauty of an agri-banking career is that you become part of their business, and their family, and you can feel good about what you're doing."

Lee-Anne’s background in banking began at the teller, and her latest position represents the culmination of a career that has continually progressed thanks to a strong work ethic and relationship skills.

“In my youth I always said I wanted to be in the police force because I wanted to work in a career helping people, and I think banking is often overlooked in this space.”

“As a bank manager, we do play a huge role in people’s businesses, sometimes we have to have hard conversations, and at times our role feels like that of a counsellor – it’s a very personal and special position to be in.”

The beauty of agriculture, she believes, is that despite the seasonal and market heartaches, the cyclical nature of the industry often corrects itself.

“I’ve been around for a long time now, I’ve seen the good times, which are always great, and I’ve seen the hard times, when so much resilience is built – I’m on the ride with clients the whole time and generally speaking there are always better times ahead.”

 

Riverlands region affords a diversity of opportunity

From citrus, almonds, stone fruit, and grapes to emerging horticultural varieties, the Riverlands region is home to a smorgasbord of agricultural offerings, with the innovation and adaptability of local farmers the key ingredient.

“At the moment the region is going through a really hard patch,” she explained. “Grape vines are being pulled out or mothballed, which is devastating, yet the region remains resilient and visionary – on one former vine site we're now seeing hothouses with cucumbers, capsicum, and lettuce, which is so exciting."

“With agriculture, there’s always seasonal heartache, but there’s always that flicker of hope and vision which is just so exciting, and to see local farmers come through, and be there through all the emotions is a true privilege.”

Describing her own personal brand as ‘a positive one’, Lee-Anne is intent on celebrating the positives of agriculture despite the seasons, and her advice for young bankers starting out is to build empathy because supporting farmers through cycles requires long-term vision.

 

A sole focus on ag in a new role

While not from a traditional farming background, Lee-Anne laughs that like many who grew up in Renmark, she did her fair share of cutting apricots and picking grapes in her youth.

And while her banking career has covered a variety of roles, she always had a bias towards agri banking.

Drawn to Rabobank’s sole focus on agribusiness, Lee-Anne is now six months into what feels like the crescendo of her life’s work.

“I have two daughters who moved out around the same time as I started with Rabobank, so I now have the time and the energy to fully dedicate myself to the role, and since starting I’ve realised this is a role, and organisation like no other I’ve worked for.”

“Throughout my life I feel like I’ve just gone to work to raise my kids, yet now I can honestly say that the culture at Rabobank is so inspiring and positive – it aligns perfectly with my own personal brand and values and it’s been really meaningful personally.”

“I thought all banks were the same, but now that I’m with Rabobank there’s a unique culture, and happy people dedicated to doing the right thing by the client – I genuinely love my job, and I’ve never said that before. To be able to go to work happy is a very special thing.”

Crediting the bank’s close-knit feel for increased cohesion, Lee-Anne said she was immediately struck by the camaraderie amongst staff.

“Everyone is lifting each other up, there’s no sales competition or negativity and everyone wants to help each other succeed. I feel empowered to work independently, and we’re actively encouraged to be on-farm with clients rather than in the office.”

“I’ve learnt so much in this happy, safe space, I’ve never had that before, and while I thought I was a good leader before, I’ve grown so much in this positive environment.”

The added value Rabobank provides clients is another welcomed point of difference.

“We ran a Rabo Client Council initiative recently, The Teacher Farm Experience Program, aimed at arming school teachers with agricultural knowledge and enthusiasm they can share in the classroom.

Over two days,  teachers from across South Australia visited local farming enterprises, enjoyed an overnight farm stay, and heard from industry professionals pre and post farm gate.

The Teacher Farm Experience Program, which has been running since 2018, aims to increase the knowledge and confidence of STEM and agriculture educators to allow them to incorporate food and fibre production into their teaching programs.

“It was such a meaningful initiative, and teachers were in awe of the industry – plus it was pretty cool to be able to showcase my local area.”

“I’m continually amazed at all the value add Rabobank clients receive – from networking and knowledge sharing events to RaboResearch expertise, the bank really goes above and beyond for clients.”

“And personally, I’m at a point in my life where I can really sink my teeth into the role, and I’m very grateful to have this opportunity here in my backyard supporting the community and local farmers so close to my heart.”