Everyday plant health heroes
Former Executive Director and CEO of Plant Health Australia
Working in agriculture gives people a wonderful and diverse career. Having been here all my life, I cannot think of anything better.
How did you choose your job? Or did it choose you?
A little of both really. I have had a long career managing pests and diseases. Immediately prior to joining Plant Health Australia (PHA) in 2008, I had moved to Canberra and was working with the Grains Research and Development Corporation, expecting to be in the ACT for 5 years or so. A friend, Selwyn Snell, the current Chair of Hort Innovation, suggested that I should have a look at the PHA role. I did and was there for almost 12 years.
How long have you worked in this industry?
I have worked in agriculture my whole life. We had a family farm on the southern tablelands of NSW, went to an agricultural high school, onto agriculture at Sydney University and then into the commercial world focusing on pest and disease management, which started back on the farm.
What does plant health mean to you?
Australis’s livelihood. Whether it is profitable production agriculture which includes forestry horticulture and broadacre cropping or our diverse and unique native flora
What are your greatest achievements in this role?
In my former role at PHA, it was the development of the business and its people. I believe PHA has had and will continue to have a very positive impact on Australia’s biosecurity system broadly.
My specific role in the establishment of the Plant Biosecurity Research Initiative and selection of its Director.
The establishment of linkages with Better Border Biosecurity (B3) in NZ and Euphresco in Europe which will deliver significant benefits to Australia’s biosecurity system in the long term.
What does a typical day look like for you?
When I was at PHA a typical day involved working with government and industry members and mentoring staff – yes, every day. We also needed to manage the business of PHA and there was always something going on internally
What advice would you give anybody wanting to get into the industry?
Working in agriculture gives people a wonderful and diverse career. Having been here all my life, I cannot think of anything better. And yes, going back to the farm so the “career” will continue to deliver great experiences and rewards.