“You wouldn’t believe it, I’ve just reversed out of my driveway and hit the roller door and ripped a hole in the roof of my new car!”, Catherine laughs through the phone at the beginning of our conversation with her.
“I’ve got you on Bluetooth, I’m just on the way to the smash repairs but we can still chat!”
Catherine Marriott’s approach to a minor car accident is not dissimilar to how she approaches most bumps in the road; with resilience and humour to boot.
With a damaged car roof and patchy reception, Catherine shared her insightful and captivating perspective on 2020, leadership and career.
2020: Confronting the uncomfortable
“How could 2020 not have taught you a myriad of things?” she begins.
“2020 was probably the toughest year I’ve had mental health wise, but I would not change any of it for all the tea in China.
“It forced me to slow down and reflect without the noise of travel schedules, work and social media. It was really confronting, but out of difficulty always comes some sort of reward, and for me it is an amazing sense of happiness and contentment with where I’m at in life and who I am.”
It takes grit and courage to do what Catherine did, to sit in the uncomfortable and come out of it being unapologetically you.
“I’m really grateful for 2020, but that doesn’t mean I want to do it again!” She adds in her usual pragmatic manner.
Driving research and extension
Catherine is now the CEO of Riverine Plains Inc, which specialises in farmer-driven research and extension that delivers on-the-ground benefits to farmers.
Riverine Plains motto is “Farmers Inspiring Farmers”, which Catherine loves as it is the most empowering way to learn.
She is quick to add, “I’m not a farmer, I don’t want to be known as a farmer, but I do want to contribute to agriculture. It goes without saying, the person in the paddock is hugely important, but what I love about agriculture is it is so much more than that, it’s the people, the opportunities, the innovations, the challenges and the shared successes.
“That’s why I’m in ag – I don’t want to be a banker… or a ballerina” Catherine laughs.
Shiny stuff aside
When asked about her greatest achievement, Catherine quickly dismisses anything “up in lights”.
“What matters to me is the little moments like when someone approaches you in the street and says, ‘I’ve never forgotten what you said at a forum six years ago and as a result, I’m now doing…’ something that makes them happy.
“The fact that I have said something that resonated with someone, that is my life complete,” she explains.
Catherine has a genuine desire to make a difference at the grass-roots level, and any accolades which follow are just a bonus.
“I know I won the Rural Women’s Award, but what meant more to me was the $10,000 that allowed me to run a leadership program and build a women’s leadership business,” Catherine said.
It comes as no surprise that Catherine doesn’t spend time embellishing her role as CEO either, instead she prefers to approach her new title with a focus on productivity, collaboration and teamwork.
“It’s less about the title and more about the task that needs to be done and who I need to bring along with me, because a CEO is nothing without a team,” Catherine explains.