Pride in the wool - Issue 142 - Magazine | Monocle

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The Woolmark Company’s headquarters on the edge of Sydney Harbour is a long way from the nearest sheep station. But that’s just fine with the 60,000 Australian sheep farmers who rely on ceo Stuart McCullough and his team to take their valuable merino wool to the world.

A non-profit funded by the nation’s government and its wool-growers (who contribute a portion of their annual earnings), Woolmark has a hand in the wool supply chain from top to bottom. This means helping farmers to get the most from their sheep, via everything from education in shearing and wool-grading, to fibre research and development. It also means putting export, sales and marketing skills to use.

“Every day I find out things that I didn’t know, be it new research, technology or just the everyday running of the business”

Wool exports have historical importance in Australia and were once considered to be the driving force of the economy. It was “a nation riding on the sheep’s back”, as the saying goes. Although mining and minerals have taken the top spots in modern times, Aussie wool exports still amount to some AU$2.75bn (€1.77bn) a year. Woolmark has 15 offices around the world, ensuring that everyone from Italian tailors – who have long opted for the fine Australian fibres – to manufacturers in Asia have access to quality yarn.

After 20 years at the company, McCullough says that he is still learning all the time. “Every day I find out things that I didn’t know,” he says. “Be it new research, technology or just the everyday running of the business.” And, as he’s keen to remind himself, it’s all down to the team around him. “I couldn’t do what I do without them,” he says. “They are the engine room of the company. I’m not in charge of them – I’m charged with their care.” 

CEO, The Woolmark Company

Stuart McCullough

McCullough began working at a sheep farm as a “jackaroo” (that’s a farmhand who’s fresh out of high school, to you city folks). From the paddock he moved to the shearing shed then to the lab where he worked in fibre testing and research, before a spell in communications, buying and exporting for Woolmark. He then ran Woolmark’s Americas arm for five years before being appointed ceo in 2010.

The Cabinet 

John Cheshire Wool-tester extraordinaire.

Anna McLeod Global communications and content.

Sarah Graham Marketing content officer.

Angus Ireland Programme manager, fibre advocacy and eco credentials. “Otherwise known as head scientist and researcher.”

Julie Davies General manager, processing, innovation and education extension.
“Oversees the wool supply chain beyond farms.”

Adam Garner Wool store manager.
“Helps to store the bales of wool that Woolmark then trades.”

Sue Pownall Stuart McCullough’s EA.

Robert Ryan Managing director, Schute Bell Badgery Lumby wool broker.

Miles Barritt Wool grower.
“One of the wool growers that Woolmark couldn’t exist without.”

Julie O’Donovan Graphic-design manager.

Catherine Veltman Consumer marketing manager.
Also works across the Woolmark prize.”

Marcus Majas Product engineer, Digibale.
“Creates technology to support wool growers, such as a bale-weight calculator.”

Cathryn Lee Technical manager.
“Looks after the Woolmark certification programme.”

Scott Carmody Wool buyer and wool-trade consultant.

Op (Pollapee) Sroysuwan Senior developer.
Working on sheep-ear tagging to monitor sheep movement in real time.”

Carolina Diaz Programme manager, agri-technology
“Works across animal-welfare practices.”

Trudie Friedlich Project manager, eastern hemisphere and emerging markets.

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