People on the move

People on the move in the grain industry

Grain Central February 17, 2023

GRDC Seed of Gold winner Andrew Barr with GRDC managing director Nigel Hart (left) and GRDC Southern Panel Chair Andrew Russell. Photo: GRDC

Who is on the move in the Australian grain industry? Catch up with our latest update on industry appointments, rewards and achievements.

  • New GrainGrowers CEO
  • Seed of Gold award for Barr
  • CSD managing director to retire
  • Agronomist wins Seed of Light
  • Changes at VFF
  • Long wins grains award
  • New ARTC board appointments
  • Dunn wins Emerging Leader award
  • Bayer names new CEO
  • Caughey appointed CBH director
  • Delbridges heads ASF
  • Clancy joins Zetifi as COO
  • Farmbot welcomes new leaders
  • Holland joins Namoi Cotton

New GrainGrowers CEO

GrainGrowers has today announced the appointment of Shona Gawel as the new CEO of the organisation.

Shona Gawel

Ms Gawel served previously as the GrainGrowers’ chief operating officer and was general manager, communications and grower engagement, and brings extensive experience and company knowledge to the role.

“In her previous positions, Ms Gawel has already played a pivotal role, delivering a wide range of member services and delivering efficiencies across key operations,” GrainGrowers chair Rhys Turton said.

“She is the right person for the position, and I am confident that the industry will embrace her commitment and dedication to getting on with the job on their behalf.”

Ms Gawel said she was looking forward to the challenges of the new role.

“It is an incredible honour to be appointed as the new CEO, and I am proud of the team here and the passion and professionalism with which they undertake their work each day on behalf of growers,” Ms Gawel said.

Her previous experience includes roles in Australia and the United Kingdom, working on projects that have spanned digital technology, infrastructure, the charity and disability sectors, and industry associations. 

Seed of Gold award for Barr

South Australian grain grower and former plant breeder and researcher Andrew Barr has been awarded the GRDC Seed of Gold award.

This award recognises the outstanding contribution, dedication and commitment of individuals to the Australian grains industry and has only been presented to five people since its creation in 2007. 

During half a century as a plant breeder with the University of Adelaide, Professor Barr developed 24 cereal varieties, including Echidna oats and Commander barley.

He has also operated his own farming business in Pinery in the Clare Valley region of SA, where he has grown a variety of cereal and pulse crops.

He has published more than 200 scientific, technical, conference and extension publications and has taken on various leadership roles including on the GRDC Southern Panel, as a GRDC director, and Trustee and then chair of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre, or CIMMYT, in Mexico. 

Now a consultant, Professor Barr works national and internationally supporting plant breeding, farm management and agribusiness activities and is a Trustee on the South Australian Grain Industry Trust.

“I have been very fortunate to have spent a lifetime in agriculture – it’s a fabulous industry and I recommend it to all of you,” Professor Barr said.

CSD MD to retire

After decades of leading Cotton Seed Distributors, Peter Graham will retire from the managing director position on 31 December 2023.

Over the next 12 months, the CSD board will focus on the recruitment of, and a transition to, the new chief executive officer. 

Since 1990, Mr Graham has worked to secure and develop the capability of CSD, both in its production and research facilities, and led investment to expand the Australian cotton breeding program.

He also drove CSD’s growth in extension activities that have contributed to industry growth, with cotton now being grown from northern Victoria to northern Australia, effectively tripling the average size of the Australian cotton crop.  

“Peter’s unwavering commitment to CSD’s success has played an integral part in helping us get to where we are today, we wish he and Belinda all the best in their retirement,” CSD chair Tony Quigley said. 

CSD managing director Peter Graham

Agronomist wins Seed of Light

Victorian agronomist Michael Moodie has won the GRDC Seed of Light award for the Southern region.

Michael Moodie. Photo: Neil Jacobs

The award recognises the outstanding contribution, dedication and commitment of individuals to communicating research outcomes to people working in the grains industry. 

“Everybody who talks about Mr Moodie does so with a smile – he is held in such high regard across the industry – and he has made a huge difference to growers in a challenging environment.” GRDC Southern Panel chair Andrew Russell said.   

“His absolute strength is in the relationships he has built with growers and his ability to listen and learn and to pass on and share knowledge effectively.”

Through his close involvement with the Mallee Sustainable Farming group and his Frontier Farming Systems business, Mr Moodie has helped lead key research development and extension programs through the South Australian and Victorian Mallee region.  

“I really value the partnerships that help get the research done, whether it’s Mallee Sustainable Farming or all the incredible researchers and research organisations we go along with,” Mr Moodie said.

Changes at VFF

The Victorian Farmers Federation has announced the outcome of elections for the 2023 VFF Grains Council, with Craig Henderson elected president and Ryan Milgate to take on the role of vice president.

Craig Henderson

Mr Henderson is a fifth-generation cropping farmer from the Northern Wimmera-Southern Mallee region, and has previously held the role of VFF Grains Group vice president.

Mr Milgate is the current VFF Transport and Infrastructure chair and a mixed farmer from Minyip in the Wimmera-Northern Grampians regions.

said the VFF would like to thank

Mr Henderson replaces Ashley Fraser as VFF’s Grains Council president.

“Mr Fraser’s work on behalf of Victorian growers has been incredible and the VFF would like to thank him for his tireless efforts,” VFF acting returning officer Brendan Tatham said.  

VFF councillor positions which have also been returned uncontested are: Jason Mellings, Charlton; Russell Hocking, Bendigo; Anthony Mulcahy, Southern; and Ashleigh Brooks, West Wimmera.

Long wins grains award

Victorian extension and training consultant Jeanette Long has received the GRDC Recognising and Rewarding Excellence award for the southern region.

“Jeanette has built and delivered training programs to develop the skills of people working in agriculture for more than 30 years,” GRDC Southern Panel member Lou Flohr said.

“Her leadership and dedication to excellence in extension has helped many people learn and lifted the performance of the industry.”

Through delivering a range of training programs, and assisting organisations and farm families with succession, strategic and business planning, Ms Long has put people first across her varied career roles.

Amidst her various leadership roles across the grains and broader agricultural sector, she also served on the GRDC Board. 

Ms Long said she was grateful to have worked in agriculture – an industry that she loves. 

New ARTC board appointments

Peter Duncan AM has been named the new chair of the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) and Collette Burke will take on the role as non-executive director of the board.

Both appointments are for three-year terms. 

Mr Duncan replaces the Warren Truss, who stepped down as ARTC board chair in November.

Mr Duncan has more than 40 years’ experience in government and infrastructure, and is the current WaterNSW chair, deputy chair and commissioner of the NSW Independent Planning Commission and a board member of the Office of Projects Victoria.

Dr Burke is a highly qualified and experienced engineer with over 25 years’ experience in the infrastructure construction sector.

She was the inaugural Victorian chief engineer and also previously held various senior roles with Leighton Contractors and management positions with Thiess John Holland.

Dr Burke is a non-executive director of Marinus Link Pty Ltd and VicTrack.

NSW Department of Primary Industries Director General Scott Hansen; 2023 GRDC Emerging Leader award recipient for the northern region Mathew Dunn; GRDC Managing Director Nigel Hart; GRDC Northern Panel Deputy Chair Roger Bolte. Photo: Nicole Baxter

Dunn wins Emerging Leader award

Research agronomist Mathew Dunn has been recognised for his commitment to research extension, receiving the GRDC Emerging Leader award for the northern region. 

Mr Dunn has worked for the NSW Department of Primary Industries since 2015, the past two years as part of the farming systems research team.

His current project involves a mixture of field research, paired with modelling and economic analysis to examine where system opportunities and risks lie.

“Mathew has shown dedication and consistency in his research and has proven himself to be an avid communicator who provides reliable, timely information to growers that can help them improve profitability,” GRDC Northern Panel chair Arthur Gearon said

GRDC’s Emerging Leader award recognises excellence, commitment and passion demonstrated by an individual in the Australian grains industry and carries a scholarship of $15,000 to support the professional development of the recipient.

New Bayer CEO

Bayer has announced that Bill Anderson will become the company’s CEO, effective from June 1.

Bill Anderson

He will join the board of management as of April 1.

Bayer’s current CEO Werner Baumann will work closely with Mr Anderson on a smooth transition process before retiring from Bayer, after 35 years of service, at the end of May 2023.

A chemical engineer by education, Mr Anderson has served in various leadership positions in the biotech industry in the past 25 years.

Most recently, he served as CEO of Roche’s Pharmaceuticals Division, where he led a comprehensive transformation program, which resulted in revenue growth and new product launches.

Caughey named CBH director

Merredin’s Michael Caughey has been elected as a CBH Group Member Director for District 2.

The unsuccessful candidate was John O’Neil from Mukinbudin.

“I would like to thank the candidates who put up their hand to contribute to their co-operative as a Member Director,” CBH chair Simon Stead said.

“On behalf of the Board, we look forward to the continued contribution of incumbent directors Ken Seymour (District 1) and Royce Taylor (District 4) following their unopposed re-election, as well as welcoming Michael Caughey, who with their skills, knowledge and experience will add value to the Board.

“I would like to recognise and thank John O’Neil for his service to the Board over the past three years.”

Delbridge heads ASF

The board of the Australian Seed Federation has announced the appointment of Katherine Delbridge as the new CEO of the organisation.

Katherine Delbridge

Ms Delbridge joins the ASF from CropLife Australia, where she has been director of government and strategic relations and director of corporate affairs for the past five years.

Prior to CropLife, Ms Delbridge was the director of communications with National Disability Services, the peak industry body for service providers in that sector.

On an international stage, she held the position of general secretary for Workability International.

Ms Delbridge commenced in the role last Monday and will be located full time at the ASF’s Canberra office. 

Clancy joins Zetifi as COO

Agtech start-up Zetifi has announced the appointment of ex-GME CEO Warwick Clancy to the role of chief operating officer. 

Mr Clancy began his career in Wagga Wagga before commencing a 24-year stint at globally recognised radio communications developer and manufacturer GME, including five years as general manager operations, and seven years as CEO and managing director.

He brings extensive experience in the design, manufacture, development and distribution of electronics and radio communications products. 

As COO, Mr Clancy will be responsible for driving operational excellence, scaling manufacturing, and key commercial negotiations with distribution and channel partners for the ZetiRover and ZetiCell product lines. 

Farmbot welcomes new leaders

Remote on-farm water monitoring company, Farmbot, has appointed Martin Christmas to the role of chief financial officer and welcomed Nick Donnelly to the role of inbound sales manager.

With almost 30 years in accounting and finance, working in senior roles within the fintech, retail, FMCG and healthcare sectors, Mr Christmas brings a wealth of experience and financial knowledge to Farmbot.

Spending the last seven years across various roles in Australia and time working as a station hand in Longreach, Mr Donnelly joins Farmbot with a plethora of experience in customer relations and account management.

Farmbot CEO, Andrew Coppin, believes the addition of both men to the business will boost the value proposition of Farmbot even further.

“Martin and Nick’s expertise and critical thinking will be instrumental to the success of the business and take us on the next step forward,” Mr Coppin said.

Jay Holland

Holland joins Namoi Cotton

Namoi Cotton has announced Jay Holland as the company’s new manager – technology and infrastructure.

Mr Holland joins the team at Toowoomba and brings a wealth of experience in the technology sector and a proven track record of leading large-scale IT projects and teams.

With a background in agriculture, he has previously worked with GrainCorp and the National Grower Register and is passionate about leveraging technology to drive business success.

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