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Media Release

Voting members to decide

Publication date: 31 October 2019

Top L2R: Robert Clarke, Jan Vydra, Niall Blair and Bottom L2R: Andrew Spencer, Paul Harker


One new Director will be appointed by voting members at the 2019 Hort Innovation Annual General Meeting in Sydney on November 22, with a further two Board appointments also to be determined.

Five contenders from diverse backgrounds have been nominated, with voting members encouraged to get to know the candidates.

Hort Innovation CEO Matt Brand said the candidates were selected in accordance with the Hort Innovation Constitution.

“A rolling retirement schedule saw two current directors step down from their position, with another position available following the early retirement of another director that was not filled,” he said.

“The director recruitment process was run externally by agribusiness search and recruitment business Rimfire Resources to develop a pool of suitable candidates.

“These candidates were then shortlisted and interviewed by the Hort Innovation Director Nomination Committee, with five advancing to be included on the final voting ballot.”

The Director Nomination Committee comprised of the Hort Innovation Chair, along with three independent members – a levy payer, a nominee of the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, and an ‘independent eminent person’, in keeping with the RDC’s Constitution.

Mr Brand said the two retiring directors were entitled to stand again for election and have done so and they are joined by three new applicants.

Information and a biography about each candidate was included in the Notice of Annual General Meeting issued to Hort Innovation members last week by email and post. And more information and an online voting platform can be accessed here.

A full professional profile for each candidate is available here. 

The candidates are listed below.

ROBERT CLARK (re-nominated director)

Rob was appointed as a Director of Hort Innovation at its registration and re-appointed in November 2016. He is an Emeritus Professor of Agricultural Science at the University of Tasmania.

Rob is also a horticultural producer, as owner and Managing Partner of Lanoma Estate, 500 hectares of intensive agricultural properties in the Derwent Valley, Tasmania. Horticultural crops include mechanically harvested berries for processing and freezing and fresh berries. The farm also grows hybrid brassica seeds, strawberry runners and supplies open rooted seedlings to the forest industry.

PAUL HARKER (re-nominated director)

Paul is a current sitting Director seeking re-election in 2019. He completed his first term as a non-executive Director of Hort Innovation and Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee.

Paul is currently the Director of Fresh Foods & Group Replenishment for the Woolworths Group. In this role Paul leads a team of 300 people who source and buy fresh foods for 1000 Woolworths supermarkets in Australia and a team of 280 who manage the forecast and supply of product through from supplier to over 2800 stores across the Woolworths Group.

NIALL BLAIR

Niall has 25 years’ experience working across agriculture, horticulture and government sectors, bringing a wealth of knowledge and insight for where the horticulture sector is heading in both domestic and international markets.

As the former NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Regional Water and Trade and Industry, Niall has become an advocate and leader in food production and sustainable practices. He has a reputation for fostering a culture of innovation, consultation, collaboration and quality to achieve this. This has been recently recognised through Niall’s appointment as Professor of Food Sustainability at Charles Sturt University.

ANDREW SPENCER

Andrew has operated in the Australian rural research and development arena for the past 14 years, managing teams to invest in, administer and commercialise R&D on behalf of and for levy payers. In addition, Andrew has overseen multi-million-dollar annual marketing budgets, creating demand and building pork consumption to where it now exceeds that of beef in Australia on a per capita basis.

Andrew’s experiences as a senior executive of diverse agriculture/agribusiness organisations spans more than 30 years in four countries. He had a previous career with one of the major agricultural multinationals working in the plant protection, seeds and biotechnology businesses in Australia, Germany, South Africa and France. He has a broad background in both plant- and livestock-based agriculture, having worked in the horticulture, extensive cropping and pork industries.

JAN VYDRA

Jan is a passionate agri-business leader with a proven commercial track record over more than 15 years. As a first-generation farmer, Jan co-founded Australian Fresh Leaf Herbs in 2008, and has been intimately involved in all aspects of operating a successful horticulture production company. He has prioritised innovation throughout the business, continually investing in R&D to improve on growing methods and technologies.

Jan has also had significant industry involvement, including his role on Hort Innovation’s Expert Advisory Panel since 2017. He was also awarded a Nuffield Scholarship in 2016, enabling him to complete a global study program and publish a report on his findings around sustainable horticulture production, ‘More Food, Less Earth’. His experience has also been recognised across the industry, including receiving the Australian Young Farmer of the Year Award in 2011 as well as Rabobank Emerging Leader of the Year 2016.

Ends

Farah Abdurahman
Media and Public Affairs Manager
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