Calgary (Rural Roots Canada) – Christine Gillespie admits she found herself in the agricultural industry by chance. She met someone who was hiring for a position at Agrium Inc., which later became Nutrien, and spent the next 25 years of her life and career in various executive roles.
Eighteen months ago, she took a step back to look at the next chapter of her career. She launched Gaia Global Advisors, a strategy consultancy firm focusing on global agribusiness, fertilizer, and industrial retail. She also continues to explore other executive career options and board roles.
Gillespie understands what it takes to unlock your career potential. A featured speaker at this year’s AWC West 2024 conference, she believes making a mid-career transition is possible if you think strategically about your career path.
“My main theme relates to thinking about the long game,” says Gillespie. “Start with the end in mind and from there, work backwards. It’s not necessarily thinking or placing importance on the next step but how it fits into your overall vision and strategy of how you would like your career and life to develop. That end goal may be different for everyone, but the principles still apply.”
Working backwards to move forward seems counterintuitive, but Gillespie says most people get so caught up in the moment they’re in that they forget to look at the big picture. Focusing on the end goal and working backwards to achieve it can be an effective strategy, particularly for women.
“It’s important for women to think through strategy to overcome some of the natural barriers in place. Some of those barriers have come down but if we don’t strategically think about manoeuvring our careers, we might not achieve our goals.”
Gillespie advocates for intentional career maneuvering, believing that developing relationships within your industry is crucial, especially for women who might not naturally fit into existing social groups.
“Maybe the social group at work is a hockey team, and you don’t play hockey. So, you have a group of guys out building relationships, having fun, and making bonds,” she says. “Not to begrudge that, but when that next job comes up, people like to hire people they are comfortable with or are familiar with, and if you’re not part of that group or network, you may not be thought of for that role.”
Gillespie advises engaging in informal networking to build meaningful connections and highlights the importance of the Advancing Women in Agriculture conference as a networking hub and a place to make genuine connections.
“Having that ability to develop relationships with other women in the industry is really important. Later, you may see them at conferences again, and they can connect you with other people they know. So, attending a conference like this is not only fun, but can help you attain your career goals.”
Gillespie’s presentation at AWC West will offer the tools needed to develop strategies to unlock your career potential, with practical advice on navigating the terrain beyond the first job or for professionals experiencing career stagnation.
Learn more about the conference at this link.