As one of Nutrien’s Talent Attraction Business Partners, Vanessa juggles a full-time workload with playing in the Victorian Football League (VFLW) for Carlton Football Club.
“My Dad played for Hawthorn in the eighties, so my family was always really involved in footy,” says Vanessa.
“I did Auskick as a kid, but there wasn’t as much opportunity as there is for girls now to continue playing AFL after the age of 12. Instead I played a lot of netball, basketball, soccer and rowing – I just love sport.”
“I’d never really pushed my brain to learn a new sport as an adult, but when I was at uni, an opportunity came up to play for Trinity Grammar and I thought I’d give it a go. I just loved it – I’m very competitive and football really clicked with me. I played there for three seasons and became the captain in 2019, which was really fun.”
“I was also selected to captain the Victorian state team in 2019 and when we won the Grand Final that season, I was on such a high. The Western Bulldogs had approached me about a contract for 2020 and life was looking great. Then Covid happened.”
As Melbourne moved in and out of lockdowns for most of 2020, the VFLW season was ultimately cancelled.
“Sport has also been a really positive outlet and distraction for me, and without that routine, I struggled,” she explains.
Things improved in 2021, and Vanessa was able to train and play with the Western Bulldogs but found the step up in professionalism a challenge.
“At my level, women aren’t paid at all (although men are). We’re still expected to invest the same amount of time into our training, which makes it difficult if you’re also working a corporate job. The facilities and support are amazing, but it’s definitely a lot to juggle five hours of training twice a week and then all weekend playing and doing rehab,” Vanessa says.
“It was extremely competitive to get a spot on the team each week, which was a learning experience for me. After that first season, I felt like I’d found my groove to was ready to commit again in 2022, and then I was approached by the coach of the Carlton VFL team to come over and do pre-season training with them.”
“Carlton was much closer to where I live and I really loved the team, so when they offered me a contract, I felt like it was the right decision. I played every game in 2022 and although we didn’t make the finals, I feel like I’ve really developed as a player. I love the team, the coach and the club – so I’m going to stay for at least another season.”
With a degree in Health Science, Vanessa’s career in agricultural recruitment may not be an obvious trajectory, but she does have a family connection to the industry.
“My Dad has been working in fertiliser industry for 20 plus years. It’s a special bond that we have – he’s always talking to me about fertiliser and sending me articles to read, especially about Nutrien!”
“I’m really loving working at Nutrien,” Vanessa says.
“For such a large organisation, it feels really community focused, both out in the network and also here in the Docklands office. We have really authentic conversations and people are so helpful and friendly. I feel like we really prioritise people in this business.”
“Agriculture is a critical part of the Australian economy and it’s a real pleasure to spend my days talking to people about all the different ways in which they can contribute.”