Celebrating meaty careers at ICMJ's Beef 21 reunion

Monday, 26 April, 2021

Celebrating meaty careers at ICMJ's Beef 21 reunion

The Australian Intercollegiate Meat Judging Association (ICMJ) is recognising its alumni through a reunion at Beef Australia 2021 in Rockhampton.

ICMJ said it exists to inspire and develop future professionals in the global red meat industry through its annual national intercollegiate competition at Wagga Wagga, schools events in regional centres and most recently through its Northern Beef Conference, which provided professional development training to undergraduates and young industry professionals.

Through its annual competitions and conferences, ICMJ Australia has trained almost 3000 people over the last 32 years, including industry leaders such as Meat & Livestock Australia Chief Executive Jason Strong.

Among those heading to Beef Australia 2021 to join in the ICMJ reunion ‘Dusk Drinks’ — to be held at the Boathouse Restaurant on 5 May — is this year’s Zanda McDonald Award winner Rozzie O’Reilly, who credits a large part of her success and rapid career trajectory to ICMJ training and networks.

“I went to Wagga just to have a go and I absolutely loved it,” she said. The ICMJ said Rozzie showed such aptitude for meat judging she qualified for the Australian team to tour the United States.

“When I was at school it wasn’t broadcast that there are so many amazing jobs in the red meat industry — in America they really put that across to their students and get school kids involved in meat judging early. The meat companies over there chase college students like they’re star football players.”

Zanda McDonald Award winner Rozzie O'Reilly.

A key focus of ICMJ is connecting young people to career opportunities through its industry expos in Wagga and Rockhampton.

“At my first ICMJ Wagga careers expo I tried to get everyone’s contact details I could. I then went and did work experience at quite a few feedlots, all because of the opportunities presented by ICMJ,” Rozzie said.

One of the doors opened through ICMJ was a month of work experience at Stockyard’s Kerwee Feedlot on Queensland’s Darling Downs. This paved the way for a position on Stockyard’s Graduate Program at Kerwee after she finished her university studies, where she was recruited by former ICMJ president and then Kerwee feedlot manager Brad Robinson.

At the end of 2016 Rozzie was recruited by LAMBPRO, a prime lamb seedstock business. Rozzie’s role with LAMBPRO allows her to draw on the knowledge she has gained in genetics, animal nutrition and meat-eating quality from ICMJ, UNE and Kerwee.

“From ICMJ I’ve learnt the importance of understanding meat quality in terms of addressing consumer pain points. We’re so caught up in producing the product that we sometimes forget to ask what the consumer actually wants.”

Throughout her career, Rozzie has continued her involvement with ICMJ, volunteering to the national committee in 2014 and managing the Wagga ICMJ Careers Expo since 2015.

“We’re gaining more and more industry recognition each year. In 2015 we had 18 companies at the careers expo; by 2019 it was 45,” Rozzie said. “It goes to show companies know they can get good graduates through ICMJ.”

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Mikhaylovskiy

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