At Hort Innovation’s 2018 Annual General Meeting in November, voting members will elect three directors to the Hort Innovation Board. Seven candidates for the positions have now been announced, with voting members encouraged to get to know the candidates in the profiles listing their past and current experience below. More information about each candidate will also be included in the Notice of Annual General Meeting, issued to Hort Innovation members later in October.
How the candidates were selected
At the 2017 Annual General Meeting (AGM), a resolution was passed by voting members of Hort Innovation to adjust the composition of the Hort Innovation Board to five elected directors and four appointed directors. For the 2018 AGM, considering the terms of the current directors, this has meant there are three positions to be voted on.
A recruitment process was run by agribusiness search and recruitment business Rimfire Resources to develop a pool of suitable candidates. This included national advertisements in print and online media, plus a targeted search process. From here, the Hort Innovation Director Nomination Committee shortlisted and interviewed candidates, with seven of these advancing to be included on the voting ballot at the 2018 AGM.
The candidates, in alphabetical order by surname:
Julie Bird (Haslett)
Julie has a broad background in the Australian horticulture industry, spanning various roles and commodities over the past 25 years. She is the current owner and manager of Say It With Flowers, a large retail floristry business based in Malvern, Victoria. She is also Non-Executive Director of United Almonds Limited, an unlisted public company managing more than 1000 hectares of almond orchards situated at Piangil, Victoria.
Previously, Julie was Non-Executive Director/Deputy Chair of Plant Health Australia, CEO of the Almond Board of Australia and Non-Executive Director of the Australian Nut Industry Council. Julie has also served as Independent Chair of the Apple and Pear Industry Advisory Committee and the South Australian Apiary Industry Advisory Group.
Julie has wide experience working in all aspects of primary production, including a management role with Quality Fruit Marketing, marketers of stonefruit to domestic and international markets, and operating a management consultancy business, servicing the agribusiness sector in strategic planning and risk management.
Julie has a Bachelor of Teaching degree, is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, and has MBA (Executive) qualification focused in Marketing, Finance, Business Strategy and Leadership.
For the past 14 years Tania has been an owner-operator of a 350-acre citrus property in Sunraysia, as well as providing financial recording and advice services to a variety of rural businesses.
Tania is currently the Chair of Voice of Horticulture, a national body formed to give horticulturalists a voice with government and research and development corporations. She is also a member of Hort Innovation’s Leadership Fund Expert Advisory Panel and citrus Strategic Investment Advisory Panel; a member of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Agriculture Consultative Committee; a director of the Sunraysia Institute of TAFE; and a member of the advisory board to the Black Economy Taskforce. Tania is also a “critical friend” representing horticulture in relation to food traceability and security.
Tania’s previous appointments include Chair of Citrus Australia, a position she held for eight years from March 2010 to February 2018. In 2014 Tania co-founded the Lucas Foundation, which raises funds to provide comfort and assistance to residents of Sunraysia who are suffering financial hardship due to unforeseen circumstances or illness affecting their children.
Tania holds a Diploma in Accounting, Advanced Diploma in Business Management, and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Should Tania be elected as a Director of Hort Innovation, she will step down from her role with the Voice of Horticulture, as well as her positions on the Hort Innovation Leadership Fund Expert Advisory Panel and Strategic Investment Advisory Panel for citrus.
Susan Finger (current director, re-nominated)
Together with her finance and business acumen, Susan brings an all-round knowledge of the horticulture supply chain, from farm resource inputs to delivery to the consumer. Based in Victoria, she is an apple grower with two orchards in the Yarra Valley, and currently is a director of Hort Innovation (with her term now coming to an end), plus a member of its Audit and Risk Committee.
Susan has a successful history in farmer and industry representative organisations. She is a past president of the Victorian Farmers Federation Horticultural Group and was a Director of the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF). She has held an executive committee position with the VFF Industrial Association, which attends to workplace and industrial relations matters for farmers, and held a role with the VFF Farm Business Committee. Susan previously worked in taxation and audit with a large accountancy firm and held financial roles with the wine industry and local government.
Susan is a graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and holds a Bachelor of Business (Accounting).
Stephen Lynch (current director, re-nominated)
Stephen has spent most of the last 20 years working with horticulture producers, including building farm operations, and has spent 15 of the last 20 years as a company director in horticulture.
Stephen is a current director of Hort Innovation (with his term now coming to an end), as well as a member of its Investment Committee. He is also a director of a horticulture contracting company.
Previously Stephen was a director of the almond peak industry body for seven years, and Chair for three of those. He has 10 years as an executive director of a horticulture investment company, developing horticulture investments. Stephen’s primary focus over the last two decades has been horticulture investment and consulting, production and business growth, and investments across many of the levy products.
Stephen has a degree in Agricultural Science, a Masters in Agricultural Economics (London), is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors’ Directors Course, and has undertaken units of a financial planning diploma.
Steve is a third-generation horticultural specialist who has worked in all aspects of horticultural businesses from genetics and farming through to domestic and international market development. He is also an experienced CEO/Managing Director of horticultural businesses, with more than 15 years at that level.
Steve is currently the CEO of Sundrop Farms, which develops, owns and operates protected intensive crops (such as tomatoes in Australia, and berries in the USA and Portugal) using desalinated sea water and concentrated solar power. Prior to Sundrop, Steve managed open-field crops such as washed potatoes, onions, melons, pumpkin, table grapes and wine grapes, citrus, and many other crops.
Steve’s former roles include CEO of the South Australian Potato Company and Managing Director of Australian Quality Plus.
Steve is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and holds a Bachelor of Commerce with a double major in management and marketing. He is also the former Chair of the SA Premiers Food Council and has served on more than 15 boards across business, industry and government.
Mark Napper (current director, re-nominated)
Mark has 34 years of agribusiness experience including running companies, owning a fruit orchard, people and company change management, production and supply change management, and stakeholder engagement.
As a re-nominated director, Mark is currently Deputy Chair of Hort Innovation, chairs its Audit and Risk Committee, and is a member of its Remuneration and Appointments Committee. Other current directorships include those with Santos Organics and being Chair of the Australian Hemp Masonry Company.
Mark has previously served as a director of AUSVEG, the Australian Mango Industry Association and Summerfruit Australia, and was President of Low Chill Australia.
Mark owns a business advisory firm providing business management and strategy advice and executive mentoring services. He holds a BA (Accounting) and a Masters of Business Administration, and is a fellow of both the Institute of Managers & Leaders and Certified Practising Accountants, as well as a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Julian has significant experience as a corporate director and a strong background in agriculture, industry, marketing and research. He is a director of ASX-listed Rural Funds Group, the NSX-listed RFM Poultry Group, and serves on the boards of the Australian National University Research School of Management and the Australian Catholic University.
Julian’s prior directorships include those with Taumata Plantations Limited, Regional Livestock Exchange Investment Company, Agribio Research Facility, Palisade Investment Partners Limited, Port of Portland and ANZ Terminals Pty Limited, Darwin International Airport and Alice Springs Airport.
In his executive career, Julian has held various senior roles including as a CEO, COO, Partner, Managing Consultant and Executive Director. He has worked with the Australian Government, Towers Perrin (now Willis Towers Watson), Access Economics, Access Capital Advisers, Palisade Investment Partners and Strategic Reform specialising in economics, investment, policy development, advocacy and risk management.
Julian holds a Bachelor of Economics from the Australian National University, is a fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and a fellow of the Institute of Actuaries of Australia.
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