Brianna Peake grew up on a farm in Dalwallinu and headed to Perth for her last three years of high school, before studying Natural Resource Management at UWA. After a year on the road travelling Australia, she headed back to Dalwallinu and worked as executive officer with a grassroots grower group, the Liebe Group (2004-2008). Her itchy feet took her abroad again, and she travelled around Europe for 18 months, a stint which included work with a grain handling organisation in the UK. When she returned to WA, she worked with CBH Grower Service Centre during the 2009-2010 harvest. Time working with DailyGrain gave her further experience with stakeholders in the grain industry. The it was back to CBH in 2011, this time managing the Grower Service Centre, before shifting her career path into the corporate affairs area.
Brianna’s ARLP experience occurred at the same time that she took on a new role at CBH in government relations, and it was the ARLP that gave her the confidence to spring from that role to the CBH executive team, heading up her division in February 2016.
“The ARLP grew my confidence as I took on challenging roles and ultimately gave me the boost I needed to take on the head of division role: even though I was terrified, I knew I could back myself to do it,” Brianna said.
The program worked: but as the first female from CBH to embark on the training, why did she participate in the first place?
“Gavin Bignell, a long-term colleague and friend had done it, he said it was amazing,” Brianna said.
“Those who had done the ARLP were a little bit guarded about the experience, but said it was “life changing,” she said.
Even though participation in the ARLP had not been a burning ambition, she now says it should have been.
Brianna reiterated the fact that the Kimberley was hugely influential in changing people’s mindset.
“I gained a greater insight into the local indigenous community and their connection to country. I was humbled by the landscape, the history, and the generosity of the people,” Brianna said.
“I grew up in regional WA but I was embarrassed by my lack of knowledge about the detailed history of indigenous Australia and understanding of the issues that stem from this history: the ARLP showed the need to think about this differently, and have the confidence to engage in this conversation more broadly and seek to have influence where I can,” she said.
She said that the level of engagement with community in the Kimberley was unique and heartfelt.
“The whole Kimberley experience is one of the most exceptional things I have ever done: the feeling of freedom will stay with me for a long time,” Brianna said.
“You don’t use the lessons and skills gained all at once, but you tuck them all away to use later…you can refer to the experiences and learnings years afterwards,” she said.
Brianna said that the ability to listen with empathy gained during ARLP has come in handy in her role in working with many stakeholders across the industry and in seeking to have influence in positive outcomes for regional WA.
“We have learned to be sensitive to each person’s story,” Brianna said. In the Kimberley, our facilitator let situations play out…and come to a resolution… it was a safe place where we could allow ourselves to let go, but I learned that you cannot be a great leader without trusting people.”