International Womens Day x WOMEN IN STYLE | Meet Barb Madden

To celebrate International Women's Day, this month's Women in Style feature is extra special as we meet Barb Madden, Director of People and Culture at Smithfield Cattle Company.

With a background in accounting Barb has leveraged her skills and passion to carve out an impressive career. Her leadership and steadfast commitment to equality in the agricultural industry is an inspiration to women everywhere and one that is highly admired and respected. Barb also holds many other pivotal roles including the Presidency of the Australian Lot Feeders Association. 

We toured the feedlot recently to discuss what International Women's Day means to Barb and to discover more about her role....

Barb, can you tell us a little bit about your role in the cattle industry?

I am an accountant by trade and a third-generation beef producer, with my grandfather opening his first butcher shop in 1928. Ninety-six years later, our family owned and operated business feeds 40,000 head of cattle every day and employs over 110 staff at our two feedlots, Sapphire near Goondiwindi; and Smithfield in Proston.

I am the President of The Australian Lot Feeders’ Association (ALFA), which is the peak industry body seeking to improve the profitability, professionalism and community standing for all Australian feedlots. I am also a Director on the Red Meat Advisory Council (RMAC), which represents Australian beef businesses and their interests to the community, industry and government.

What does a day in your life look like at Smithfield Cattle Co?

I always start my day with physical exercise, which is so wonderful for the mind and body, before heading out to the feedlot. Whilst I’m an accountant by trade, my current role is overseeing the Human Resource and Workplace Health and Safety side of the business. My day is usually office bound and dotted with meetings, whether they be regarding our staffing and training requirements at both feedlots, or meetings relevant to my industry roles.

Whilst my role has me spending most of my day indoors, I recognise any successful business or Board requires a diverse range of skills and a commitment to a common goal. Our common goal is to provide the highest possible welfare outcomes to the cattle in our care.

What advice would you give to the next generation of women looking to take on a leadership role?

- Be brave and have a go.
- Find a mentor and a good support network.
- Embrace your femininity, even in the male dominated industries. 

How would you describe your style?

I would describe my style in one word: Stylish. Whether I am just at the feedlot, at an industry Board meeting, or meeting a politician at Parliament House, I always want to put my best foot forward and dress with style. I try to look my best, no matter what the occasion. A good outfit makes you feel good on the inside too!

What are you most looking forward to now in 2024 around the cattle industry?

Two beef specific events are on my radar. Beef Week in May in Rockhampton is a huge, world-class event designed to promote and celebrate the entire Australian beef industry, and I’m looking forward to seeing the industry get together. And I can’t wait for BeefEx - held in Brisbane in October, this is ALFA’s ultimate event to celebrate all things grain fed beef. As President, I am so proud to see the great work lot feeders are doing for cattle and country recognised at events like these. Both Beef Week and BeefEx are wonderful opportunities for lot feeders to leave their feedlots and celebrate the wonderful role we play in producing safe, high quality and nutritious food to families around the world. 

  Barb's journey exemplifies the resilience and determination that characterises so many women striving for excellence in their fields. Barb's steadfast belief in equality resonates through her actions, breaking barriers and forging paths in traditionally male-dominated industries, fostering environments where diversity thrives and every voice is heard.

 LOCATION: Smithfield Cattle Co
PHOTOGRAPHY: Paulie Eborne @mrs_paulie_
BARB WEARS: Goondiwindi Cotton Winter 24 Country Lilly Collection

1 comment

What an inspiring woman! Great to see a woman heading up what would have been typically male dominated industries.

Elizabeth Rossi April 03, 2024

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