Georgia Gorham: The first woman to conduct livestock auctions in Tasmania

Georgia Gorham is setting the pace for gender equality in the Australian livestock industry.

Working as a livestock agent with Nutrien Ag Solutions, Georgia Gorham conducts livestock auctions each week at the Tasmania Livestock Exchange (TLX) and is believed to be the first woman in the state to do so.

Georgia grew up in Darwin in the Northern Territory and although she didn’t come from a farming background her interest in the industry started at a young age.

“We would drive past the live export yards every day on our way to school and I was always very curious about what they did there which eventually led to a conversation with a woman that worked in the office at the local sale yards. She told me about the basics of live export and the role of the industry. From that moment I was set – this is the industry for me, and this is what I want to do,” Georgia said.

“When I was 15, I started a work ready program with a company in Darwin. I would attend school three days a week and then spend the rest of the week at the yards which would often involve early starts and long days working with up to 11,000 head of cattle. I was the only woman out on site which definitely had its challenges, but I loved it and I quickly grew a strong connection with and understanding of the animals.”

“The livestock agents would come in to draft the cattle out of the yards and into their lines, and they had such amazing expertise and I knew that’s what I wanted to do.”

“Later I worked at a smaller facility that held about 5000 head, until the live export ban hit in 2011. We lost our jobs and livelihood, it was devastating. Hundreds of thousands of head of cattle were sitting in their yards going nowhere. Many are still feeling the repercussions years later.”

Following the live export ban Georgia went to university to complete a certificate in accounting and opened her own accounting business before jumping straight back to the livestock industry once things reopened again.

“I had my first real exposure to the role of a livestock agent when I crossed paths with two amazing small family agencies, the Donovans and the Dawsons – they were both father-son agents who unfortunately didn’t have room for another agent, but they still gave me some great real time experience and played a really important role in my professional development. But to realise my dream of being an agent I had to start applying for roles interstate.”

“At one stage I was applying for 10 or more roles a month. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve flown to Sydney, Brisbane or Melbourne for a final round interview – usually a meeting in the Qantas Club with a panel of three senior male leaders. Their line of questioning in the interview alluded to their concerns about a woman working in this environment, leaving me feeling excluded, disheartened, and frustrated. I can still remember one comment very clearly: ‘we were very impressed with you Georgia but I just think it’s a handicap to be a woman in this industry’.”

“In 2019 I applied for a Livestock Representative role with Roberts Livestock, which is now part of the Nutrien Ag Solutions business. During the interview they asked questions about my skills and experience – they didn’t care about my gender, and that’s when I knew I was in with a good and fair chance.”

“I accepted the job and flew down to Tasmania to join the Roberts and now Nutrien Ag Solutions team. I spent the first few months getting to know the market trends and people, and then had the opportunity to go to Sydney and complete auctioneering school. Now I’m proud to say I’m the first woman to conduct livestock auctions here in Tasmania. It was a big step for me, and I now work alongside some of the best auctioneers in the industry, people like Warren Johnston and Drew Skinner, who have been so supportive.”

It’s always been really important for me to be hired on my ability and credits, not just to tick a box. Having a diverse range of skills and people in the industry is imperative to its longevity. It’s great to see more women in roles that have stereotypically been held by men. We’ve still got a way to go, but the dial is shifting on gender inequalities in the industry. My advice to other young women considering a career in agriculture is to be persistent and don’t give up.

Georgia is completing a degree in psychological science and is also studying a masters of Ruminant Nutrition which she hopes to use in her role at Nutrien Ag Solutions to offer clients another area of expertise alongside marketing livestock.