In just seven short years, Kyle Cordy has progressed his way up from jackaroo to farm operations manager at Avington Merino stud at Sidonia, Vic.
Having grown up in Castlemaine, staying local was an appealing option for Mr Cordy, so he could contribute to his family's farm in his spare time.
The opportunity to spread his wings first came in 2009, when after finishing high school, he worked for a year as a livestock drover.
After that, he went to study a Bachelor of Agriculture Business Management at Charles Sturt University at Orange, NSW.
In the final year of his studies, Mr Cordy completed four weeks of industry experience at Avington, and upon finishing uni in 2013, was offered a jackaroo position by managing director Noel Henderson.
He completed the two-year jackaroo program and was then promoted to livestock overseer, a role he held for a further two years.
"Then I moved to NSW for 12 months to work on another stud - Coddington Uardry Poll Merinos - to gain further experience, and then mainly for family reasons I moved back to be closer to be involved on the family farm," he said.
He returned to Avington and for a year worked as assistant manager before being offered the farm operations manager title - a title he's now had for 12 months.
Mr Cordy said he was really passionate about sheep but he liked the "big picture management" aspect of the job.
"Pasture management is a really big passion of mine; sheep are only ever as good as the feed you put in front of them," he said.
"Genetics are a big variable in how well your sheep will perform but if you don't provide adequate nutrition, they'll never grow to their genetic potential."
Managing different variables and the constantly changing environment were other aspects of the job he enjoyed.
"Maintaining the variables and making good decisions under pressure is what drives me," he said.
"In farming there's always room for improvement, whether it be genetic gain, pasture gain or trading stock at the right time.
"No two years are the same, no two weeks are the same, so there's always more to learn and more things we can do better."
Mr Cordy said the biggest struggle in the last 12 months had been stepping back from the day-to-day jobs and instead overseeing it all.
"I was invited to be a part of a Breeding Leadership course through Australian Wool Innovation earlier this year and the biggest thing I learned from it was to be an effective manager, you've got to work on the business more than working within it," he said.
He said the biggest challenge of his role had been managing a team, yet he said it was also the most rewarding.
"I manage five full-time staff and we've got a young staff base, so I've tried to build a good rapport with them so there's a good relationship there but also the healthy respect and the understanding that there's still a job to be done," he said.
The team manages two different flocks - a superfine flock that averages 16 micron, and more recently an ultrafine flock that averages 12.5 micron and goes as far down as about 11 micron.
Mr Cordy said running the two flocks was interesting and challenging as they were working with two "completely different wools".
He said he was grateful to work in a family operation and to have a great working relationship with the owners of Avington.
"It's a really good atmosphere to work in," he said.
"And the three of us work really well together, making all the big picture decisions."
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