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Employee spotlight: Elena Yao

Working to make a difference

Four years ago, software engineer Elena Yao started work in the AgriWebb offices as part of a capstone project for her Bachelor of Information Technology at the University of Sydney. That project saw her help design AgriWebb’s biosecurity function, making it easier for farmers to safeguard their properties and the wider community against pests and diseases.

One thing stuck with her from those first days. She recalls Justin Webb, co-founder of AgriWebb, talking about the industry that the agtech company was looking to revolutionise. “I learned that in Australia an estimated 10 to 15 million lambs die within the first 48 hours of life each year because of exposure and neglect,” Elena says. “Agriculture is such a huge industry – everybody has to eat. Hearing a figure like that, I realised that I wanted to make an impact on this industry.”

A team environment to thrive in

One thing that attracted Elena to working full-time with AgriWebb after finishing her internship was discovering an atmosphere fostering talent and encouraging collaboration. “While we were coming in as uni students, everyone was very open and willing to help and just incredibly friendly,” she says.

“AgriWebb is quite close-knit. When I joined full-time three years ago, the team was significantly smaller, and we’ve been able to maintain that same culture even as we’re growing.”

Elena also appreciates the experience of her colleagues. “AgriWebb’s CPO, Phil Chan, has a lot of experience and knowledge. When they were starting up, he pulled the best people from IBM and the like, so we have a great calibre of talent,” she explains.

“I enjoy coming to work every day. Lawrence Hey [Lead Software Engineer] and Kenny Sabir [Head of Engineering], for example, are exceptional talents. They’re genius-level smart, and working with them, I gain so much.”

Connecting with clients

Elena values the close relationship AgriWebb has with the customers it services. “I like the industry – everyone’s so down to earth, and the farmers are really lovely,” she says. “I like chatting with our customers to see how they utilise the product in the field.”

Elena gets to see how the farm management software she works on helps farmers increase productivity. “My favourite features to build are things that people request, that seem relatively small but make a big impact,” she says. “Seeing that connection between software and real life is interesting.”

Having an impact, globally and locally

Seeing how AgriWebb can improve operations for farmers across the world is a source of satisfaction for Elena. “Providing food is vitally important, and the challenge of increasing food production to meet growing populations is difficult and going to require innovation,” she says. “Our work has a global impact.”

Elena’s interest in increasing efficiency and reducing environmental impacts has also found an outlet in her role as AgriWebb’s Chief Climate Officer. The job involves bringing in initiatives that can reduce the company’s carbon footprint.

“I’m proud to be part of a company like AgriWebb. Many companies like to appear green, but they don’t necessarily do anything. Justin brought together a whole bunch of people to bring the environment to the forefront of our minds when we go about our day-to-day work.”

If you’d like to follow Elena’s journey at AgriWebb, you can do so via LinkedIn here.

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