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Alexandra Dalton (Fr 2012)

Alexandra Dalton (Fr 2012) grew up on her family’s farm near Griffith in regional NSW and now lives on a farm near Trangie with her partner. Since graduating from university, Alex has worked within the agricultural industry, and for the last 7 years has been working in cotton marketing at Louis Dreyfus Company. Notably, Alex is the previous Secretary of the Southern Valley Cotton Growers Association and is the current Vice President of the Macquarie Cotton Growers Association. Alex values hard work and loves living in the country where she can grow her career but also live on a farm. In this Q&A, she shared with us some of her special memories of her time at St Andrew’s and emphasized how grateful she is for the opportunities Drew’s provided her with.

Please tell us a bit about yourself – where are you originally from and how did you come to be a resident at St Andrew’s College?

I grew up on a mixed farm near Griffith, NSW (approximately 6 hours from Sydney), with three older siblings. My parents were both farmers and emphasised the importance of education – working extremely hard to send us away to boarding school in Sydney. After school, I decided to study for a Bachelor of Commerce at USYD and apply to be a resident at St Andrew’s. Looking back, I am so grateful for Drew’s; it didn’t just provide accommodation for rural students but was a supportive community that played a crucial role during my time at University. The camaraderie, resources, sports, and friendships I made at Drew’s were invaluable.

What parts of College life were you involved in? Do you have a favourite memory you would like to share? 

I really enjoyed the social and sporting aspects of college life. I played netball, and basketball and participated in rowing, which allowed me to build great friendships with other students, not necessarily in your year group. I was also a part of the highly regarded and prestigious ‘Buffet’ crew in my second year. My favourite memories are probably more the mundane: the conveniences of living so close to everyone, and having all your mates just living down the corridor from you. 

You were involved in several aspects of the Rosebowl Sporting Campaign, including basketball, netball and rowing. What did you enjoy the most about competing within the intercollegiate community? 

I loved the sport at Drew’s so much. Being a part of a team and building strong friendships with teammates, including other students in other years and colleges was probably a highlight for me. I also really enjoyed the training (maybe not the early mornings for rowing) leading up to the sporting campaigns, comradery and support from the entire College getting behind everyone. 

Did your time at St Andrew’s influence or affect your life after College?

Definitely. Looking back, I think that’s why I am so grateful for my time at Drew’s. I am so appreciative to have lived with other fun, motivated, and capable people, many are my nearest and dearest friends today. Full disclosure, I also met my husband at Drew’s, so I feel fortunate we were both there at the same time! 

Were there particular academic, professional, or personal experiences that motivated you to pursue a career in agricultural marketing? 

Coming from a farming family, I always had a strong interest in agriculture and knew the agricultural industry encompassed a lot of different professions and opportunities. I was lucky enough to receive a Cotton Australia Scholarship to attend the Cotton Conference which is held every second year on the Gold Coast. This experience opened my eyes to the cotton industry and all the different career pathways available, and that’s where I met my future boss at Louis Dreyfus Company! 

You studied commerce at University but have worked in the agricultural industry for nearly the past 8 years. How did you initially enter the new industry? 

I started working two days a week at Market Check (a grain agency and brokerage business) during University, which was a great introduction to the industry and agricultural commodities. After graduating, I started a role as a logistics planner for GrainCorp in Sydney. 

After completing your studies, you worked in Sydney for a few years before moving to rural NSW. What was the reason behind your move to the country? What has been challenging or beneficial about the change? 

I always knew I wanted to eventually end up back in the country and be closer to my partner, who returned home to his family farm upon completing University. Initially, it was an adjustment moving from a bustling office of nearly 200 people in Sydney to a two-person office in a country town! However, a smaller team brought new opportunities and substantial career growth. 

Today, we live on a farm near Trangie, and we have a great rural community. I feel incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to pursue various occupations in a rural location, thanks to internet connectivity (thanks to Elon’s Starlink!) and the evolving work environment. In the past, residing in a rural community constrained the job opportunities accessible to us. However, nowadays, we are presented with a multitude of options. I feel deeply privileged to reside in an era where I can capitalise on and make use of these opportunities while residing on a farm.

You were the Secretary of the Southern Valley Cotton Gower’s Association from 2020 to 2023 and are currently the Vice President of the Macquarie Cotton Growers Association. What did these roles involve? 

The cotton grower associations play several important roles, including supporting the interests of cotton farmers and the broader cotton industry at various levels of government, industry forums and other relevant bodies. As well as working collaboratively with research and development initiatives aimed at improving cotton farming practices, enhancing crop yields, reducing environmental impacts and addressing emerging challenges facing the industry. We also organised several social events throughout the year, like award dinners, field days, and charity golf days fundraising for the local community and charities. 

What does a typical day look like for you as someone working in marketing but also living on a rural property?

Every day is different, and every cotton season brings something new! Generally, I wake up early to catch up on market movements and reports overnight. We price cotton on US futures, so there’s a big focus on the US cotton crop and balance sheet. We have an office in Memphis, so I normally wait to touch base with them, before writing a daily cotton market update and sending out our indicative price levels, ideally before 6.30 am. Throughout the day, my tasks include reporting data or insights, pricing cotton bales and cottonseed, meeting with clients, building production forecasts, collaborating with our origination team, and compiling a daily summary of origin activities by day’s end.

What do you like to do outside of your work?

A few years ago, I got my pilot’s license, which is a lot of fun. I also really love catching up with friends, good food, animals and exercise. All the good stuff!

What are you reading, watching or listening to now that you would recommend to others? 

Wall Street Journal Podcast – I love this podcast, always super informative and a great way to keep with business, tech and finance stories around the world. 

Is there any advice you would give to young Androvians looking to pursue a career in the agricultural or marketing world?

The agricultural industry is so small, so I believe always acting with integrity is extremely important. Keep an open mind, utilise your network, and don’t be afraid to reach out to different companies or friends of friends. You never know what opportunity may become available, and more often than not, people are generally more than happy to help!