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Women at Work: Amy Elleway

Molly McLaughlin

When the public service couldn’t provide the flexibility Amy Elleway needed, she had to come up with a whole new plan for her career.

“I ended up where I am now due to equal parts frustration at working in the public service and their failure to recognise women’s capability outside the status quo along with as a lifelong passion for Australian produce and my need in Canberra to be able to access good seafood.”

Her plan has become Wild South Seafood, a business that offers premium-frozen fish in places where it might otherwise be unavailable, like Canberra. But running her own small business hasn’t all been smooth sailing.

“I changed the entire business model at least twice!” she laughs. “I wanted to put my money where my mouth was and prove that I could set up and run a business, but there has been a lot of challenges.”

Amy’s involvement in the seafood industry started as a child when her father became the first person in Australia to fish for squid. As an adult she found that, due to logistics, fresh Australian fish was hard to come by in many parts of the country.

“I love good food and wine and I really like cooking, however living in land locked Canberra and being a busy professional I stopped eating fish,” she says. “I’m also very interested in health and nutrition so I think eating fish is a really important. Unfortunately, it takes a really long time for the fish to reach the cities. Even if you go down to the coast, you often can’t buy local seafood because it all comes off the boat and goes to Sydney before it comes back again, if it comes back at all. It’s a really sad thing.”

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Amy wanted to change all that, for herself and others. She also consults as a governance lawyer, which has allowed her to ensure Wild South Seafood develops into a viable business in the long term rather than returning immediate profits. Like many working women, she is an expert at time management.

“I’m able to work absolutely flexibly and to only rely on my achievement and outcomes,” she says. “I can be at my desk at 6.30am and have a policy paper written by 8.30 when I take the kids to school. I’m no longer asked to make a choice between being present for my children or my career.”

While her short-term aim is obviously commercial, Amy is also interested in exploring how women can be supported in the workplace and also the development of a market for high-quality local produce in Australia.

“I would like Wild South to be able to contribute to the research, development and support of Australian agribusiness, especially because our production methods are getting better and better in terms of environmental impacts,” she explains. “Whether we’re talking about flavour, environmentally sustainability, the social impact or the bottom line, I have an absolute belief in the ability of Australia’s agribusinesses to be producing food that is exceptional quality.”

All photography by Martin Ollman

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Molly McLaughlin

Molly McLaughlin is new to Canberra and is attempting to prove to her friends that the capital city can be cool. This mostly involves frequently going out for brunch and then posting about it on social media, along with trekking up hills and around art galleries. She is half way through her uni degree but spends most of her time reading, writing and planning her next adventure. More about the Author

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