Get clear on your purpose and you can change an industry

23.04.22

Originally published on Women’s Agenda, who are profiling women working in agriculture and related fields, with the support of AgriFutures Australia.

Jacqueline Wilson-Smith’s epiphany came to her in 2017, back when she was leading a global sustainable packaging project.

She saw that business leaders had a pivotal role to play in creating a better world for people and the planet – and they could make a huge impact fast, given their commercial power.

From there, she made the decision to dedicate her future career to inspiring and facilitating business leaders to make that impact.

This epiphany, combined with her deep creative and business expertise, also led Wilson-Smith to clearly define her purpose: which is to facilitate connections to create better food systems to feed the world well.

She launched the Sustainable Innovation Company in 2019, which facilitates ideation workshops and strategic planning within a sustainability context, for agri-food businesses.

“At a base level, I think I am just wired to work,” Wilson-Smith tells Women’s Agenda on what drives the passion and desire for change that she has.

“I didn’t come from a wealthy family and my husband isn’t a millionaire (but he’s gorgeous), so contributing to the family running costs to provide opportunities for our 3 kids is a big motivator. As I mature and become more financially secure, I am allowing my passions to overtake as key work drivers.

“My experience, network capital and skills are ready for impact, it would be wasteful not to put them to good use,” she says.

Wilson-Smith was named the 2017 QLD AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award Winner for her work in this space, leading her to realise just how useful the work she was doing is for the food and agricultural industry.

“It was a wake-up call that skills, especially in strategic facilitation and getting people to work together better, were needed, and were highly regarded,” she says.

It also gave her the push she needed to make a big move towards focusing on her passion.

“I was working in-house for a multinational at the time. I needed to make a decision: do I ‘A’ climb the corporate ladder and relocate my family to America; or do I ‘B’ boldly start the Sustainable Innovation Company and provide strategic consulting services to the industry I love.”

Wilson-Smith chose the latter, which she says has made all the difference.

Wilson-Smith sees herself as a clear example of the opportunities there are for other women to pursue purposeful jobs in agriculture, and believes more should be done to share the skills and opportunities available in agriculture that require great talent right now.

“[These include skills such as] designing and brokering new technologies, researching customer’s needs and facilitating effective collaborations across the food value chain,” she says.

“Shine the light on agricultural roles for women who are not from the land themselves and provide cultural transition pathways for these women. This will open up a vast talent pool and capture diversity of thought. Celebrate the women who have transitioned from other industries into agriculture and showcase the benefits reaped.”