Industry Profile – Rebecca Hannam

Rebecca Hannam is an agricultural communications professional who also spends a lot of
her time volunteering. Managing her many commitments and interests can be a struggle, but she’s working to find more balance and lessening harmful stress. She even shares with us her newest strategy to keep her “to do list” manageable.

If you’re interested in connecting with Rebecca, contact her via Twitter(https://www.twitter.com/rebeccahannam), LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/rebeccahannam) or email (rebeccahannam@gmail.com)

To start off, please tell the Ag Women’s Network more about yourself.

Rebecca HannamI grew up in a grain farming family near Guelph. My family has lived on and farmed the same land there since 1929. You could say that agriculture is in my blood and that’s how I found myself studying at the University of Guelph where I graduated with a degree in agricultural business in 2012.

Communications in agriculture has been a specific passion of mine from a young age when I competed in the Canadian Young Speakers for Agriculture speaking competition at The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. I enjoy both speaking and writing to share my thoughts and the ideas and work of others, and have been writing for agricultural publications for over five years now.

After graduation I worked as a commercial and agriculture account manager in the banking sector. I have transitioned from that role and today I work full-time in communications and fund development with a provincial non-profit organization, the Rural Ontario Institute. I also continue my part-time writing business, AgInspire Communications, and volunteer with the Fergus Agricultural Society and Ontario Agricultural College Alumni Association.

Professionally we are often seeking success. How do you define personal success?

We might be told that success at work comes from a sales goal chart or your name on a list, but I think personal success really comes from achieving personal goals and being happy. Setting those goals together with your partner or your family are important and after some soul searching, what’s included in those goals can be a true reflection of your values – which are ultimately what will make you the most fulfilled.

Are you willing to share a mistake you made but that taught you something important?

In the spirit of helping each other, let’s get real and honest for a minute. Many of us have too much on our plates and too many worries in our minds. This takes a toll and for me, it has been easy to get bogged down feeling overwhelmed and stressed. It can happen when we take on too much and it can have serious health impacts. It doesn’t happen because we mean it to at all – for me, I truly just get too excited about too many projects and want to be part of them all! Saying “yes” to too many things is where I have gone wrong in the past, both in the areas of volunteer activities and part-time work. Recognizing the need to say “no”, realizing how to say it and how to stick to it are lessons I am learning – it’s a work in progress. For me, I’ve had to figure out how much I can take on in each area of my life and I’ve literally written out my priorities for this year. Now, when I am asked to get involved in something or take on a new project (when you need something done, ask a busy person, right?), I am going to visualize that list and if it doesn’t fit, I will decline. I’m loving the line “you can do anything but not everything”.

I’m curious to know what other tips and tricks are out there because I think stress is an issue faced by many of us but one that we don’t talk about enough.

Who has been your most significant mentor?

I think we are seeing more and more formal mentorship programs which is really encouraging. I am personally not involved in a formal program like that, but consider a few key people in my professional life mentors to me because of the time that I have spent with them or the conversations that I continue to have with them. I had the opportunity to work for three incredible women during my summer internships in university. All three managed different businesses, different areas of businesses and managed people differently but all faced similar challenges and met me and influenced me at a key stage in my career. They were honest and open about their lives and that was very important to get a glimpse into what the ‘real world’ of being a busy manager and mom is really like. There are things that they said or did that I did not understand then but now as a full-time working woman balancing life, I know where they were coming from and so appreciate the insights they were giving me. It’s important to foster those relationships when you have the opportunity and be that type of person for others – open, honest and willing to help out when you can, even if it is just sharing an experience.

How do you define agriculture?

Agriculture is the production of more than food – it is food, feed, fibre and fuel. Agriculture is a business – from research and development to final processing – that supports the world in many ways.

What do you think is the most important topic in agriculture right now? Or what should be?

Feeding a growing global population is a hot topic in agriculture as well as consumer relations and agvocating for what farmers do and how they do it. I think these two actually go hand-in-hand. Agriculture can feed the world because we have incredible technology and more coming and strong managers who can take production to the next level – but will they be able to? There is still a lot of work to do to show the public that technology can be safe and that these managers are good people doing good things.

Why are you interested in being a part of the Ag Women’s Network?

To me, the Ag Women’s Network is an opportunity to meet each other, share and learn. Women in agriculture have a lot in common and the more we can support each other, the better.

by: Stephanie Craig

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