In brief: Mary Nenke


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With Mary Nenke, general manager of WA-based Cambinata Yabbies.

I get inspiration from … other women doing great things. I was an inaugural winner of the Rural Women’s Award (RAW) for Australia and I have found the RWA women very inspirational. We do it differently because we are living remotely; we can’t just produce something that can be done anywhere.

I owe thanks to … my father-in-law, who was enormously supportive of anything I was interested in. He encouraged me to have a go. I was a roustabout – and he encouraged me how to class sheep and wool.

I learnt so much from … an amazing mother, Peg Robinson, who ran a sewing business in Hay Street in Perth during the war, which was quite extraordinary for her time. My Mum was home schooled and, until she died [more than five years] ago, was an entrepreneur. My mother said there was no such thing as ‘can’t’. I believe it’s one of the things that made a difference.

Our greatest challenge is … continuity of supply. Like all agriculture, supply is directly connected to water and therefore the weather, which we cannot control. Fortunately, unlike grain crops, rain can come summer, winter, spring or autumn – as long as we get enough to fill the dams, our yabbies will grow. Drought is devastating for supply and customer satisfaction.

What I have learned is … that ‘growth’ can hurt and, when it’s too rapid, can result in severe cash-flow problems. Growth meant more money for buildings, transport, equipment, supplies, fuel and yabbies.

My advice is … to stay on top of money matters and have a good accountant and a good accounting program. Look carefully at where overspending is occurring and why. Take action – this may mean reducing unnecessary spending or it may be increasing your prices, particularly in current markets where fuel is increasing costs directly and indirectly.

To me an entrepreneur is … someone who thinks outside the square. They are prepared to try something knew and take calculated risks. They are optimists seeking opportunities.

To me, being a leader means … helping others to achieve their optimum. It means encouraging others, especially when the going is tough. It means choosing to love and see the best in people. It means seizing opportunities to make the world we live in a better place. It means encouraging others to reach a joint goal or milestone. It means encouraging others to take ownership and responsibility. It means admitting when you have made a mistake. It means being honest and trustworthy.

My favorite brand is … Heartlands Regional Branding because it stands for regional people helping each other, quality small businesses based in inland Western Australia producing quality products with passion.

I would be proud if someone said … that I am genuine, place family first, like to help other small business people and want to make regional Australia a better place to live. And for our business – that we have integrity, market great products that we are passionate about them.

My favorite quote is … God opens doors – we just have to choose to go through them.


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