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Hort Innovation's AGM 2019

Information for members

When and where

Hort Innovation's AGM 2019 will be held on 22 November in Sydney at Pullman Sydney Airport, 191 O'Riordan Street, Mascot NSW 2020.

The day has three key events, detailed below.

Hort Innovation Showcase: Meet the team and learn about the investments that matter to you

Time: 10am

Circulate around this interactive event to learn more about Hort Innovation direct from our team members – this is a great chance to chat about our areas of focus, the R&D, trade and marketing investments we make on your behalf, our Hort Frontiers strategic partnership initiative, and a whole lot more.

The 2019 Hort Innovation Annual General Meeting

Time: AGM registrations open from 9:30am; the AGM starts at 12pm

This is the official business portion of the day. At this year’s AGM, all Hort Innovation members that have secured voting entitlements via the earlier Annual Levy Return process will have the opportunity to vote to elect one Director to the Hort Innovation Board. On the day, the Board will also make two further appointments.

Workshop: Help shape Hort Innovation’s new Extension & Adoption function

Time: Following the AGM, this will be a 2-hour workshop

Horticulture growers have told us they want to have more direct engagement with Hort Innovation and more access to the knowledge we produce and hold – and our new Extension & Adoption function is going to facilitate just that. Come along to this workshop session hosted by Dr Anthony Kachenko, General Manager of Extension & Adoption, to learn more and, most importantly, to contribute to the conversation, share insights, offer ideas and provide feedback.

Registered Hort Innovation members who have received an official invite and Notice of Annual General Meeting can RSVP to the event here.

Securing voting entitlements

All Hort Innovation members that pay a statutory or voluntary levy have the right to apply for voting entitlements in order to vote at our AGM. To secure voting entitlements, members must complete an Annual Levy Return form. The Annual Levy Return process for 2019 is now closed.

All members who submitted an Annual Levy Return will be advised of their voting entitlement outcome as part of their official Notice of Annual General Meeting, which is being circulated during October.


If you have any questions relating to the Annual Levy Returns process and the allocation of voting entitlements once you receive your notification, you can contact Link Market Services on 1800 660 083 (free call within Australia) or email the Hort Innovation Company Secretary, Matthew Waring, at


Appointment of Non-Executive Directors

Three Director positions are available on the Hort Innovation Board this year

The Constitution of Hort Innovation requires in 2019 three (3) of its nine (9) Directors retire from the Board and three (3) Director candidates be appointed to the Board.

One (1) Director candidate will be elected to the Board by Voting Members at the Annual General Meeting and two (2) Director candidates will be appointed by the remaining Board members immediately following the Annual General Meeting.

Director candidate profiles

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 mechanical 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.

Rob was Professor and Head of School of Agricultural Science and Chair of Agricultural Science at the University of Tasmania and Foundation Director of the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture Research. His prior appointments also include Deputy Chair of Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, a member of the National Research and Development Council, and a member of the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation Advisory Board, a Director of Webster Ltd and a Director of the Geoffrey Gardiner Diary Foundation.

Rob has a Bachelor of Agricultural Science with First Class Honours (Horticulture) and a PhD. His contribution to agriculture and agricultural education was recognised by the award of a Member of the Order of Australia.

Rob’s skills include horticultural research, RD&E management, innovation in horticulture and he has a practical knowledge of production horticulture. Further, Rob is an experienced Non Executive Director of Research and Development Corporations. In his time on the Board of Hort Innovation he has made a significant contribution as Chair of the Investment Committee and as a Member of the Remuneration and Appointments Committee.

Paul Harker (re-nominated director)

Paul Harker is a current sitting Director seeking re-election in 2019.

Paul has 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.

Over the course of Paul’s 26-year retail career he has successfully managed large teams in buying, supply chain and store operations to deliver exceptional results. Paul has demonstrated his ability to build strong relationships with customers, suppliers, industry groups and team members. Key retail skills developed include sales and operational planning; category management; strategic planning; integrated trade and promotional planning; customer and category marketing; strategic sourcing, forecasting and replenishment; logistics; retail technology; and capital management.

Paul has been involved in the horticulture industry, leading Australia’s largest produce buying team for over four years. Over this time Paul oversaw a strategic sourcing review that fostered better connection directly with growers, sought to provide consumers with value-added and exclusive products to increase returns, established relationships with industry bodies, and coordinated marketing messages right through the value chain to the end consumer. During this time Paul was a non-executive director of PMA- ANZ Ltd, whose mission is to help horticultural businesses increase their sales of fresh and safe produce locally and globally by working across the whole supply chain. Paul is currently a Director and owner of a small horticultural operation in regional New South Wales.

Paul would not only bring a retail perspective to the Board of Hort Innovation, but also a very strong business background. Paul possesses strengths in innovation, marketing and communications, business strategy, executive management, leadership and culture, and stakeholder management. He has demonstrated these skills through a variety of executive leadership roles, membership of a number of internal Governance and Steering Committees, as well as membership of supply chain industry boards.

Paul is passionate about the future of horticulture in Australia and believes his strong business background, retail skills and executive experience, coupled with a deep understanding of the horticultural value chain, make him well credentialed to continue as a Board member of Hort Innovation.

Niall Blair

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

Niall possesses a strong understanding of the attitudes and risks facing horticulture in Australia and is particularly passionate about finding the best solutions to help support a more sustainable and productive sector that is influential and world leading.

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.

Niall has extensive experience in dealing and negotiating with governments, Austrade, industry, consumers, universities and research organisations both in Australia and in key overseas trade markets – such as China, UAE, Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. Through this work he has been able to secure significant funding and research partnerships, which have delivered new biosecurity protocols, market access opportunities and production efficiencies.

Niall is results-driven and has implemented significant industry reforms that required strategic planning, decisive action, corporate governance, strong communication and leadership skills.

Niall’s formal qualifications include a Masters of Risk Management (WHS), a Bachelor of Horticultural Science and a Diploma of Quality Auditing, and he is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Beyond the walls of government, Niall has also been on the ground, working in the citrus, grape, nut, mushroom and vegetable industries. In some respects, it is this experience that has given him the most valuable insight into the myriad of challenges Australian horticulturists face. This is not an industry that can stand idle. It is an industry that is constantly forced to evolve in order to meet production and climatic pressures. Niall believes we should not see these pressures as setbacks but rather as opportunities to set a world standard for sustainable and innovative practice. He has dedicated his career to the horticultural sector and has a complete understanding from paddock, to port to plate. He is as comfortable in the orchard as he is in the boardroom and no matter the location, he is determined to deliver the best outcomes for horticulturists across Australia.

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. Being responsible for both an industry representative body and an R&D corporation means that Andrew carries extensive experience in building and maintaining strong levy payer/member relationships and delivering value-adding impactful outcomes. Andrew is an experienced company director with skills in the governance, leadership and strategic planning domains.

Andrew has been the CEO of Australian Pork Limited (APL - the industry representative body and R&D corporation for the Australian pork industry) since 2005 until recently stepping down for a change in career. He is the present Chair of the Australian Farm Institute and a Director of the High Integrity Australian Pork Cooperative Research Centre as well as some other agricultural organisations.

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.

Andrew is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD). He is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Managers and Leaders (FIML) and an Associate Fellow of the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation. He has a degree in Agricultural Science from the University of Melbourne.

Jan Vydra

Jan Vydra 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. This combined with a strong understanding of good governance, stakeholder relationships and leadership has helped Australian Fresh Leaf Herbs grow exponentially from initially producing 2000 bunches of basil per week to now operating across four sites in two states, and marketing and producing around 200,000 units of fresh herbs and leafy greens per week, with further expansion expected in the near future.

As well as his position as Chief Executive Officer at Australian Fresh Leaf Herbs for the past 11 years, Jan is also an executive director of Fresh Leaf Farms (Australian Fresh Leaf Herbs’ parent company), which incorporates executive roles at Habitat Wired Pty Ltd (a cloud-based horticulture technology company) since 2011, and Green Farmers (focused on medicinal herb production and distribution) since 2017.

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’. In addition, Jan is a member of the Coles Supermarkets Agronomy Group, advising the supermarket giant on their ranging, innovation and relationship program with the broader grower community. 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.

Jan is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, currently completing his GAICD. He studied entrepreneurship at RMIT (2001-2003) and commenced his Executive MBA through the Australian Graduate School of Management in 2007.

Through Jan’s extensive commercial and industry experience, he has met, worked with and listened to farmers globally, giving him a unique understanding of not only the language of farmers, but a global perspective on the problems and circumstances the industry faces. This will be a very important part of his proposed directorship at Horticulture Innovation Australia, as he is committed to ensuring members funds are used to fix real problems that are relevant to progressing horticulture in Australia.

Hort Innovation’s commitment to diversity

Hort Innovation is committed to providing an environment that respects and promotes diversity.

Hort Innovation recognises that a workforce who represents a diverse range of backgrounds, age, ethnicity and gender will enable Hort Innovation to provide optimal service to its stakeholders.