If you’re growing your family, paid parental leave can be a great form of workplace support. But when these payments end and the time comes to return to work, a whole new set of challenges arises.
Flexible work arrangements and a supportive company culture can make all the difference – particularly if you’re focused on career progression.
We spoke with mother of three, Melissa Trengove. She’s been with Nufarm for more than 14 years! As Key Account Manager, she loves being able to help farmers get more from their land, be more productive, and build sustainable long-term businesses.
“I work with our channel partners,” said Melissa, “helping farmers across the country access the latest crop protection products to improve productivity. No two days are the same. I enjoy the challenges agriculture throws at us and working with a wonderful team of people in a flexible working environment. At Nufarm, we’re down to earth, empathetic, and hands-on.”
Over the years, Melissa has come up through the ranks, looking after client accounts that comprise a significant portion of Nufarm’s portfolio, influencing change and company strategy – all the while taking parental leave to raise her family and utilizing flexible work arrangements.
Here’s her family and career story so far.
Melissa’s career journey
Melissa started as a Territory Sales Manager for Nufarm in 2008, after moving from Central Queensland to Central West New South Wales for the role.
“I was young, single, and didn’t know a soul in a new town, but was quickly welcomed in the Nufarm team. I was in this role for several years until I had my first baby.”
She then returned to work full-time in the same role. At the time, she was one of the first Nufarm women in sales to return to work after having a child.
“I then fell pregnant with twins. It was a difficult pregnancy and I had to go on leave early at 22 weeks. To be honest, I didn’t think I had a role to come back to with three children under the age of three! But I remember my manager calling me when the twins were young, asking me when I’d like to come back.”
Melissa wasn’t sure she could. But her manager put her mind at ease, saying that when she was ready to return – even if it was only half a day or one day per week –they’d create a role for her.
“I was blown away that Nufarm were willing to be flexible with hours and travel requirements. So, I became the first woman in sales in Nufarm Australia to return from parental leave part-time, working a few hours a day from home, with a smaller, more manageable area to travel.”
Melissa slowly built her hours back up to full-time, as childcare became more accessible in her regional area.
“Eventually, I took on an extra role as Horticulture Manager for Southern New South Wales, which involved some extra travel, but I felt I was ready to do it. Then, when all my children were in school, I felt like I could extend myself further. Now, I’m a Key Account Manager, looking after some of our national accounts across the country.”
With all her children beginning school, logistically, her life became simpler.
“I told Nufarm I’d made it! All my kids were at school. I was open about being able to take on further roles with more travel, and when an opportunity came up, I felt I was able to accept it.
“It feels like a whirlwind thinking I couldn’t have a career with three kids, and having a company say: ‘yes, you can!’ It takes some self-belief and I’m glad Nufarm supported me with this. I think, as women, we can doubt ourselves sometimes. Having a company that believes in you can feel like a shock. But once you realize you can push yourself and take on more responsibility, it’s a great feeling.”
How can working parents continue to grow in their careers?
We all must find our personal motivation at work. For Melissa, she loves that her role has a positive impact on clients and the greater industry.
“I get to develop sustainable long-term relationships with our channel partners. There are global and local trends in the agricultural industry that I’m a part of every day – things like supply chain, pricing impacts, and freight are changing rapidly.”
Like many of us, work-life balance also matters to Melissa.
“I live on a farm, so focusing on our personal business is important. It’s nice to be able to utilize my knowledge from work and apply this to our own property and business.”
She encourages women to take learning and development opportunities that come your way! Melissa has undertaken a number of public speaking and leadership training pathways. There are plenty of development opportunities in Nufarm for anyone who’s interested, and the company really does encourage their employees to “stay curious”.
“We offer internal training, such as our “NuLead” program, which focuses on how to lead a team and principles of leadership. This was so worthwhile for my development. There are also external programs, such as the Juno Program, that Nufarm support. These are excellent for gaining practical experience in leadership.”
Nufarm is open to discussing flexible work arrangements, including job sharing, remote work, part-time, and more.
Find out how else Nufarm support their employees with flexible working arrangements.
How can parental leave policies make a difference?
Throughout her time in the company, Melissa has seen Nufarm make great progress in diversity and inclusion policies – as agriculture has traditionally been a male-dominated industry.
“Nufarm offers paid parental leave, flexible working conditions, and always employ the right candidate for a position regardless of gender, age, or culture. Anyone looking to work here should know they’ll be working with a company that cares.”
Paid parental leave policies allow caregivers to spend time with their child before returning to work; and flexible, part-time, and remote work options accommodate the transition. The company also pays a return-to-work bonus to help with the transition costs as the parental leave ends and the carer returns to work.
“I have the flexibility to work from home. This helps to work in a regional area for a national role. It really suits my personal life, because it means I don’t have to relocate my family for work.
“If I wasn’t offered part-time work, I wouldn’t have been able to return. Having this arrangement allowed me to be present at home with my children, while also doing my best work from home.”
“It’s allowed me to have all my children and stay with the same company. This means my superannuation contributions have continued. It also gives me security knowing I have an employer that values experienced, long-standing team members.”
How can company culture support working parents?
While the policies at Nufarm have been a fantastic support for Melissa, it’s the culture at Nufarm that’s really supported her. Nufarm want us to “come as you are” and that means everyone is welcome. And it’s not just her, the caliber of the culture here is also evident in the tenure rates of many of Melissa’s colleagues.
“We have strong retention and share similar values. The culture here has always been down-to-earth, hardworking but flexible, and goal-orientated – and we try not to take ourselves too seriously! There’s great banter and fun culture at Nufarm. You’re made to feel welcome from the get-go.”
She also loves that there are so many other working parents at Nufarm.
“It’s accepted parents have to balance work, and the culture at Nufarm absolutely encourages this.”