New AWI graduate trainee sussing out career options

Sheep Central, March 11, 2020

AWI graduate trainee George Lehmann.

AUSTRALIAN Wool innovation’s graduate training program will help its latest participant decide where to focus his career interests.

George Lehmann, 23, is in his second week at AWI in the 18-month long program and said he could see how exposure to the research, development and marketing company’s activities would help him make future career decisions.

“Hopefully I will be able to find out what I’m most interested in and where I can perform at my best.”

He said a career on-farm had always been appealing because of his background.

“But learning about the different activities that AWI is involved in and the different projects they are doing is all pretty interesting and I can sort of relate to it all because I come off the farm.

“That’s why I went for this graduate program, because you do get such a variety of exposure to all parts of the supply chain,” he said.

“I’m open to anything and that’s why I think the graduate program is so good.”

George’s family has been farming in South Australia and New South Wales for more than 150 years and he grew up within the current mixed farming enterprise, combining wheat and canola cropping with Merino sheep, at Junee, in NSW’s Riverina region. His family farmed in South Australia from the 1870s until moving to the current farm in 1913.

George graduated from the University of Sydney last year with a Bachelor of Food and Agribusiness.

The 18-month program is based primarily at the AWI office in Sydney, where the graduates gain exposure to many areas of the AWI business from on-farm and off-farm research and development through to marketing.

The graduates are also given the opportunity to gain a global exposure to the wool supply chain through two three-month international rotations.

The program is aimed at graduates from a broad cross section of disciplines who have a background in or connection with the Australian wool industry. The inaugural program began in March 2018.

The competition for the 2020 program was extremely high and once again, the calibre of candidates that AWI received was outstanding. It was an extremely rigorous process for the graduates to get through to the final stage.

George said he wanted to embrace every opportunity presented to him and learn more about the whole supply chain and breadth of AWI, as the scope of all its work fascinated him.

“Wool’s future is extremely bright; in Australia and around the world.

“The simple fact of the matter is that the world’s population will continue to grow,” he said.

“This is not also simply related to production, but to technology, engineering and genetics.”

George will start the program spending time with AWI’s general manager – research, Dr Jane Littlejohn, and her sheep production team over the next three months, before hopping the farm gate to the processing innovation and education extension team.

Recruitment for the next AWI Graduate will begin early 2021 for the 2022 AWI Graduate Training Program.


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  1. Jack Cleary, March 11, 2020

    Good on you George.

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