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Women at Work: Sandra Balzanelli

Laura Peppas

When Sandra Balzanelli was a fresh-faced marketing and communications student, the last thing she expected to be doing when she graduated was working amongst pork and T-bones.


Her father’s high-end gourmet business, Balzanelli Smallgoods, had been evolving but at the time, Sandra wasn’t interested in the meat industry.

“When I was 18 all I wanted was the ‘Sex and the City’ lifestyle – to move to Sydney and work in advertising. The meat industry wasn’t the most glamorous in the world,” Sandra says.

Yet eight years on, Sandra is the marketing manager for Balzanelli Smallgoods – and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Once I started, I realised it’s combining my two passions – my family’s business and advertising,” she says.

Balzanelli Smallgoods has made incredible gains since its small beginnings as a butcher shop with just three employees in 1979.

The award-winning manufacturer now has a factory in Fyshwick, a stall at the Canberra Regiona farmers’ market and distributes products through rural and metropolitan ACT and NSW.

Part of the business’ third generation, Sandra splits her time between the Fyshwick factory and Queanbeyan office, spending most days meeting with retailers, customers and brainstorming promotional ideas.

She puts the business’ success down to passion.

“As a family, we have a lot of passion for what we do – we only use Australian pork and manufacture ham, bacon, all the gourmet Italian lines, and I think people see how passionate we are for those products and what we do,” she says.

She admits running a family business isn’t without its challenges.

“A lot of people think just because I work with my family that I was given a title and didn’t have to do much… but you have to see the fine line between the family and the job. Once you separate that line, it works well,” she says.

An important part of the Balzanellis’ business is animal welfare – they have phased out having any pigs kept in sow crates.

“Basically we use eco farms because we do consider the welfare of the pigs,” Sandra says.

“Our pigs are not held in cages, they have a very different lifestyle. I think it’s really important to make sure the welfare of the pig is done correctly because it’s not fair on the pig.”

Sandra says working in the meat industry has taught her “so much.”

“It’s taught me that as a young girl people will take you on face value, so you do need to know what you’re talking about when you’re standing there telling customers or retailers about produce,” she says.

“I think that’s what helped me grow into my position to do what I’m doing now, but I definitely wouldn’t take it back for the world, I’m very appreciative.”

Follow Balzanelli Smallgoods’ Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/BalzanelliSmallgoods


Laura Peppas

Laura Peppas is HerCanberra's senior journalist and communications manager and is the Editor of Unveiled, HerCanberra's wedding magazine. She is enjoying uncovering all that Canberra has to offer, meeting some intriguing locals and working with a pretty awesome bunch of women. Laura has lived in Canberra for most of her life and when she's not writing fervently she enjoys pursuing her passion for travel, reading, online shopping and chai tea. More about the Author