SHE's a country girl from Victoria who has seen the world by working in the live-export industry.
Holly Ludeman, who is an agricultural scientist and veterinarian, was announced as the Landmark International/ALEC Young Achiever of the Year.
She was thrilled with the honour and said she was looking forward to participating in her prize, which is an eight-day leadership course held next year.
This week, in between high-end meetings in Perth and visiting feedlots, the 35-year-old caught up with the Rural Weekly to talk about her top job, and how she got it.
Right from Holly's childhood, there was never any doubt she would end up working in agriculture.
Growing up in Echuca in Victoria, a country town close to the New South Wales border, she had exposure to rural industries through her friends and family.
To put herself through uni, which started with an agriculture science degree at La Trobe University, she worked at GrainCorp in Deniliquin every summer.
After finishing her degree, graduating with honours, she headed abroad.
"I did a gap year in Ireland where I was involved in the horse-racing industry,” she said.
Returning home, Holly planned to start a PhD in dairy reproduction, which sparked her interest in veterinary science.
However, it was never her dream to become a country vet.
"I went into vet science knowing that I wasn't going to be a general practitioner,” she said.
"I just saw there were so many more professional opportunities if I did have a veterinary degree behind me.”
Her first taste of the livestock export industry came when she was awarded the Wellard Livestock Welfare scholarship in her final year of her veterinary medicine and surgery studies.
The scholarship enabled Holly to travel with a consignment of cattle from Townsville to Jakarta, and then on to feedlots, abattoirs and local markets in Indonesia.
After some time in private practice, Holly started working in the livestock export industry in 2013 as Livestock Shipping Services' operations and compliance manager.
Earlier this year, she joined Harmony Agriculture and Food Company.
As a compliance and welfare manager, Holly's days are as diverse as they are long.
"So today I am at one of our feedlots helping facilitate an external audit for an export quarantine licence,” she said.
"And last week I was in Canberra, Adelaide and Sydney at high-level industry meetings.”
She loves her job, and said she would like to see the myths around live export lifted.
"I think it's important to point out there are lots of vets working in this industry,” she said.
"We don't have a voice, but there are lots of vets doing great things. We are working with exporters to help them continually improve animal welfare standards and systems... empowering people through training is a big thing vets are facilitating in this industry every day.”
Holly believes, in the past, the industry wasn't good at sharing its story but times have changed.
"The social and cultural challenges of the live trade are real, but I look forward to continuing to work in this industry because I'm passionate about the livestock industry,” she said.
While the cattle industry is still male-dominated statistically, Holly said it was never an issue as her career progressed.
"I made the point in my speech that I have never felt like I was the young woman in the room. I think that's a credit to the people who I work with,” she said.
As part of the Young Achiever Award, Holly will participate in the eight-day, cross-sector Australian Rural Leadership Program's 2018 TRAIL program in Canberra.
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