Crafting Careers in Agriculture with Lesley Leyland who shares how Austral Fisheries is well ahead of the curve when it comes to attracting, developing and retaining the best people

Continuing our Crafting Careers in Agriculture series, today we welcome the fishing industry to the Picture You in Agriculture (PYiA) fold and look at how Austral Fisheries is well ahead of the curve when it comes to attracting, developing and retaining the best people.

Lesley Leyland, head of Quality Safety and People at Austral Fisheries, believes changing the perception of agriculture and fisheries begins in the classroom. With primary school students identifying Global Goal “life below the ocean” as a topic of high importance, the time is ripe for change.

“If I was sitting with a group of 12-year-olds now, I’d tell them we have a Plastics Champion at Austral,” she says. “Plastic in the ocean needs addressing and we are doing this. Fishing, today, is all about sustainable practises working to meet Global Goal 14: Life below the Water.  We are here to make a difference and to look after the planet. Passion will drive these young people and, in turn, drive our business. I look forward to sitting back and watching them grow.”

Lesley Leyland describes herself as Chief of Staff for Austral Fisheries, as she oversees human resources, Quality, Safety and People for fleets working from the deep seas of the sub-Antarctic to Australia’s northern reaches. With a background in freight forwarding Lesley joined Austral 22 years ago as their export coordinator. CEO David Carter joined the company as a deckhand 43 years ago. Both are testament to a workforce culture that supports its people and is rewarded with loyalty. So how does this process begin?

“We’re always looking for people with talent, passion and attitude,” Lesley says. “We can teach a lot of things with on-the-job training and we like to upskill our people, but you can’t teach passion and talent. When we see talent, we will invest in it.”

This investment includes PYiA’s first fisheries participant, Bryan Van Wyk who will join the Young Farming Champions program this year and bring a new voice to the team.

“We all fall into the agricultural space but there is not enough spotlight on fishers,” Lesley says. “It’s not just about fishing anymore. We’re about plastics in the ocean, we’re about environment and making sure we have a sustainable product for market. It is important for our business to have a voice and Bryan is a young man who is passionate about the marine environment.”

Upskilling and retaining staff is another critical aspect of the Austral workforce. With an aging executive committee (average age 55) Lesley oversaw the introduction of a leadership development program for middle management.

“There is a lot of diversity in our business with a huge amount of expertise and experience, and so we developed this in-house program as a strategy going forward. We noticed a real lift in middle management and a heightened sense of worth and responsibility.”

Lesley believes changing the perception of agriculture and fisheries begins in the classroom and, with primary school students identifying life below the ocean as a topic of high importance, the time is ripe for change.

“If I was sitting with a group of 12-year-olds now, I’d tell them we have a Plastics Champion at Austral,” she says. “Plastic in the ocean needs addressing and we are doing this. Fishing, today, is all about sustainable practises working to meet SDG:14 Life below the Water.  We are here to make a difference and to look after the planet. Passion will drive these young people and, in turn, drive our business. I look forward to sitting back and watching them grow.”

Young Australians like Bryan Van Wyk are excited about the opportunity to have careers that ensure we have sustainable oceans

 

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