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Elders wool co-ordinator Sam Wan takes service to new level

Sheep Central, August 19, 2019

Elders branch network general manager Richard Norton, left, with Sam Wan, Southern Clip of the Year winner Sean McDougall, and district wool manager Craig Potter at Sheepvention this year.

ELDERS wool technical co-ordinator and auctioneer Samantha Wan has undertaken an array of industry roles while taking her company service role to new levels in technological development.

The finalist in the 2019 National Council of Wool Selling Brokers young broker award is based in at the National Wool Selling Centre in Brooklyn and admitted the wool industry has impacted her life profoundly over the past seven years.

She has come from having no connection to the fibre to being able to proudly work for a company investing in the next generation of wool brokers.

Samantha gained a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from the University of Sydney and completed her industry training/work experience with the Australian Wool Testing Authority, before relocating to Melbourne to begin as a wool technical support officer in July 2012 within the Elders traineeship program.

Samantha said her role at Brooklyn includes completing all weekly sale operations in a timely, efficient and professional manner with importance placed on meeting deadlines and providing technical advice to clients, district wool managers and the branch network. She started auctioneering in December 2014, selling weekly in Melbourne and as required in Sydney, and was awarded the 2018 Elders “Thomas Elder” Employee of the Year award in recognition of key roles in improving the company’s end-to-end service to wool growers.

Livestreaming and podcast innovations

Samantha’s role has also involved identifying areas of improvement to support the regional staff and also to expand the Elders Wool digital and social media footprint. This has been done by modifying the standard to service delivery, expanding platforms for marketing and instigating administrative change within previous systems.

“I am fortunate to be part of a team with a positive culture that actively promotes investigating innovative means in order to remove duplication and increase efficiency to provide quality service for clients.”

She initiated the live stream video of the Melbourne Elders wool catalogue, benefiting growers from South Australia, Queensland and Tasmania who no longer attend sales.

“The world is changing and connectivity is expected,” she said.

Samantha has also created an internal weekly wool market report podcast to overcome the issues of reception black spots, differences in time zones and scheduling of shearing and client calls.

“The brief is now recorded and broadcast to keep out centres up to speed at a time convenient to the individual.

“Information includes technical staff overviews, forward pricing movements, overseas sentiments.”

Samantha’s IT skills have also equipped her for the development, implementation, and support of Elders’ new wool-valuing system across all three wool selling centres. She is studying a certificate on Blockchain technologies.

“Historically, brokers have been perceived as undervaluing wool – this system seeks to change the culture and provide accurate valuations to allow for fully informed marketing decisions.”

Samantha is also heavily involved in the ongoing development and coordination of the Elders clip analysis reporting system. She is investigating the viability of repurposing the current format into a digital application.

“I strive for the flexibility of this system to allow it to continually improve.

“The system reconfigures basic auction data into information that breaks down clip performance, allows benchmarking against available regional data and assessment against current markets and future available pricing,” she said.

Samantha’s routine sales activities including checking classer specification on wool received and following up correspondence to complete National Wool Declarations, ensuring wool is lotted and marketed correctly, applying accurate industry ID/description to wool samples, updating appraisals for clients and the branch network, manage private sales and booking sale catalogue and  auctioneering at the weekly wool sale. She also manages the Elders Yennora selling centre while staff are away on leave.

“Through my involvement in industry events and networking, I am able to establish relationships and provide active leads on prospective clients and assist with sales discussions.”

Samantha’s role measured by other’s success

Samantha said due to the technical nature of her role, her key performance indicators and impact on the business in supporting district wool managers are measured differently to field staff.

“The Elders National Wool Selling Centre sells approximately $10 million worth of wool each sale on behalf of the grower.

“With sales averaging 5000 bales, I must ensure processes are followed to meet the high standards set when being responsible for the professional marketing of all Elders clients wool clips with accurate information allowing clients to make informed business decisions,” she said.

“My approach to training new staff and local and interstate wool technical trainees is measured by the individual’s progression, professional effectiveness in their roles and success in their own careers.

“I have taken a stronger position in assisting with setting benchmarks and active mentoring.”

She also tracks social media analytics and navigates each platform to determine effectiveness.

Wide voluntary program experience

Samantha has had a wide involvement in programs that strive to promote agriculture and wool as a prospective and interesting career to the next generation.

“My personal background outside the industry to now working within it as a broker allows me to connect with the demographic that, like myself, did not shortlist the wool industry and wool broking as a career option.”

These programs have included:

  • AWI Young Farming Champion, Picture You in Agriculture (2017 Alumna, Wool)
  • Representing Picture You in Agriculture at the Animal Welfare Summit and as a Workshop presenter on “The World Wants Aussie Wool” at the 2019 Sydney Royal, Primary School Preview Day.
  • IWTO Young Professionals Programme (2018)
  • Australian Wool Innovation’s Breeding Leadership (2014 participant)
  • Careers in Agriculture – Wool Week (2017)
  • Youth in Ag Day Ambassador (2015, Sydney Royal Easter Show)
  • AgVision (2017) – providing interaction with young wool industry representatives at workshops.

Samantha also volunteered Merino and Poll Merino steward at shows since 2009 and recently joined the Michael Manion Wool Industry Foundation committee as a special advisor. She has taken over management of the annual clip awards and this year was one of WoolProducers Australia’s youth ambassadors.

Samantha said auctioneering has built strongly on her relationships with buyers and clients.

“My business relations extend beyond wool through dealings with marketing, multimedia, and communications specialists to support ventures being undertaken.”

She is also responsible for specialty orders identifying effective methods to link grower clips to orders such as Australian Merino Exports in line with their Hamilton Skin-Free Lambs and New England Wool with Bring Back the Premium and modifying existing systems to ensure correct identification of accreditation programs such as SustainaWOOL and RWS across all three selling centres.

“I aim to promote excellence in all aspects of wool broking, increase understanding of the importance role of wool brokers and promote both wool broking and the Australian wool industry as a prospective career for the next generations.”

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