Meet MLA’s Board Directors
17 September 2020
In the lead-up to MLA’s Annual General Meeting on 19 November 2020, we spoke to our current Board Directors to learn more about the diverse range of skillsets they each bring to the table:
Alan Beckett is a Victorian beef producer and has more than 40 years’ experience in a global professional services firm. He specialises in auditing and corporate services for large publicly-listed companies and works with clients all over the world, including Oceania, South-East Asia, China, and Japan.
Alan has been a member of MLA’s Board of Directors since 2014, and was appointed as Chair in November 2019, taking over from Dr Michele Allan.
Of my interest in – and passion for – the industry, and because my professional background and specific skills are beneficial in the discussion and resolution of the issues MLA and the red meat sector face.
Risk, finance, and audit skills as well as general business experience gained from more than 40 years working in a large professional services firm.
As a producer for the past 25 years, I also have valuable experience in agriculture, which brings an understanding of some of the opportunities and issues facing levy payers.
The assessment of risk is essential to every decision that MLA makes.
My skills are also complimentary to other members of the Board, all of whom bring experience in different areas and skillsets that create a diverse team.
Enjoy time at our property in Yea, Victoria, where we run a self-replacing, 400-head Angus herd, growing steers out to feedlot weights.
I also have other professional involvements as Chairman of Defence Health Limited and as a non-executive Director of Westbourne Credit Management Limited.
On the farm. I also love to travel and play the very occasional game of tennis or golf.
Rob Fitzpatrick is an industry and technology expert with more than 30 years’ experience in many different sectors including retail, telecommunications, renewable energy and information and technology. He has served in a number of senior executive roles across businesses from large corporates to start-ups and has been a Director on MLA’s Board since 2015.
Improving the integrity and efficiency of Australia’s red meat industry is really important to me. There are so many opportunities for Aussie red meat globally, and we need to be on the front foot in taking advantage of these for our producers.
I want to see us continue to drive technology innovation to improve on-farm productivity, provide insights to producers on how they can increase profitability of their operations, and improve Australian red meat’s global competitiveness.
Extensive experience in technology innovation, logistics and supply chains, as well as skills in data and integrity systems, entrepreneurship and legal matters.
I’ve been on or around boards for 30 years so also bring skills in advocacy, stakeholder management and government relations.
Fundamentally they line up with MLA’s priorities and help to ensure the company is performing as well as it can to deliver value back to levy payers in both global and domestic markets.
My experience in technology, innovation and logistics are also paramount to ensuring MLA is well adapted to meet critical industry challenges such as animal welfare and sustainability issues.
Serve on another company board in the research and education sector, mentor entrepreneurs (particularly in the technology space) and invest in businesses adjacent to the red meat industry.
Spending a lot of time with my wife and three kids, and travelling through various regional areas of Australia.
I wanted to be a part of ensuring we have a vibrant, viable and respected industry. I have a real belief that it’s important to be involved in areas you care about, and not just rely on others.
A unique blend of organisational and financial management skills and experience in delivering R&D events to increase adoption on-farm, based on years of farming.
I also have prior experience as a producer representative on local, state and national R&D committees for nearly 30 years, during which time I built networks across the red meat supply chain in Australia.
I’ve spent my whole life with dirt under my fingernails and being involved in the management of farming businesses and related organisations. This helps ensure that a levy payer’s view is foremost in my mind in Board conversations.
My experiences in business management also help to ensure there’s a strong governance and culture at MLA, which are important for its continuing success and leadership in the rural sector.
Have a passion for the future of agriculture and recently initiated the Ag4U Career Pipeline Program, which is an opportunity for final year university students in agriculture-related degrees to hone their industry skills and start building their networks.
I also assist other organisations across the agricultural sector as a non-executive director.
Grabbing any opportunity to drive through country WA.
I’m also on a constant journey to build and improve my leadership skills so am currently participating in the Australian Rural Leadership Program.
Andrew Michael is a sheepmeat and wool producer operating a family business at Snowtown, SA. He was one of the first adopters of Sheep Genetics in Australia, and has used technology to improve his business for more than 35 years. Andrew has been a Director on the MLA Board since 2017.
I have a passion for technology and research in the industry, so this matched well with MLA’s direction.
I’d also recently gone through succession planning with my three sons, so felt the time was right for me to give back to the industry my family’s been involved in for generations.
A deep understanding of livestock technologies and an extensive association with universities and research groups throughout Australia for more than 30 years.
I also have advisory skills as I’ve held a lot of genetics advisory roles for seedstock and commercial producers, and have been involved in a number of boards, including animal welfare associations.
It’s important there’s producer representation and understanding in how MLA is performing and its direction. These skills give clarity to projects and their potential to deliver value back to levy payers.
My passions for red meat’s prosperity, animal welfare and environmental management also strengthen Board discussions around these critical areas and help us work through challenges associated with these.
Am a producer working on the family farm with my wife Rosemary and my three sons and their partners, and do consultancy work for corporate companies in Australia and South America.
At Hummocks Station, a caravan and tourism park we’ve developed in the last four years which celebrates the rich history of Australia’s sheep industry.
I also travel extensively in our motorhome, visiting different parts of Australia, and enjoy fishing when I have the time.
Russell Lethbridge is a producer who, along with his family, runs a commercial beef cattle, breeding, growing and fattening enterprise in Queensland. He has extensive knowledge of the industry and cattle production systems, as well its profit drivers. Russell has been a Director on the MLA Board since 2017.
I’m passionate about the industry that I live and breathe every day, and I felt I could contribute to its ongoing success and endless opportunities because of my experiences and the insights I’ve gained from other innovative people involved in agriculture.
The knowledge of what drivers contribute to red meat’s sustainability through my life in the northern beef industry.
I have previous experience serving on boards, including AgForce, and experience liaising with state and federal governments through my time with the Hann Highway Action Group.
I’m also experienced in the live export trade, as I was previously a part-owner in a company with a live export licence.
I have experience in the northern production area, and have dealt firsthand with almost all red meat markets Australia services through being a livestock supplier to these.
Managing Director of Werrington Cattle Company, which operates two breeder properties in north Queensland and one grower fattening property in central Queensland.
Enjoying time fishing on the reef and taking a great interest in horse racing.
Manny Noakes is a highly experienced scientist in nutrition and health, with extensive knowledge of the role of red meat in human nutrition. She was a co-author of CSIRO’s Total Wellbeing Diet and has been instrumental in strengthening the positioning of red meat as a critical element of a healthy diet. Manny has been a Director on the MLA Board since 2018.
I was interested in a new challenge outside of the research setting. I’d previously done a lot of research looking at the role of protein in human health and been involved with MLA at a different level through various projects looking at high protein diets and weight management, so felt that my background could be of value to the MLA Board.
My understanding of how research can translate into products, services and innovations that make a difference. It’s critical when contracting research to be able to look beyond the projects themselves and assess the end result and what impacts they will have.
It’s important to have the perspective of the consumer in mind, not just the production side of red meat. We need to openly think about its value in society and can’t ignore the threats to red meat’s prosperity and image in nutrition.
So, as a Board member, I want to be constantly questioning if we’re doing enough to represent this product positively to consumers.
Run a small nutrition consultancy business dealing with entities in Australia and internationally on the role of nutrition and health.
Enjoying my passions for gardening, cooking and different food cultures, as well as looking after and taking pride in the growth of my grandchildren.
Jo Pye is a customer engagement, marketing and strategy expert with more than 20 years of experience in the fast-moving consumer goods industry. Jo has held senior positions across local, regional and global markets that have contributed to her high level of knowledge around consumer insights and how to apply them to the innovation and marketing process. Jo has been a Director on MLA’s Board since 2018.
I had reached a point in my career where I was looking for an opportunity to utilise my skillset for the greater benefit of others, especially Australian communities.
It was timely that I received a call from a good farming friend who had seen the board position advertised. His encouragement to apply gave me confidence given he felt my skillset suit would be beneficial to the organisation and the red meat industry.
A background in food science, marketing, insights creation and leadership at both a business to business and business to consumer level which has ultimately created a deep understanding for what drives value for the end user in the supply chain – the consumer.
I bring the ability to think like a consumer into the board room. Through interpreting consumer data, I am constantly asking questions with the aim of ensuring the right opportunities for red meat are being identified.
Have my own coaching and consulting business, ‘HumblePye’, specialising in leadership and food education.
Raising three school-aged children, running the local Physical Culture club (a uniquely Australian dance sport), keeping myself fit and satisfying my great love of food through cooking and baking.
I wanted to be part of an organisation that offers as much value to producers as possible, and to be part of an industry that contributes to the health of rural and regional Australia. I just love the beef and sheep business.
I also have a background in sheep science and have been involved in livestock production in some form since 1980.
Knowledge across all aspects of agriculture, but specifically an understanding of the requirements of both government and agricultural stakeholders, as well as significant exposure to agricultural innovation systems.
Organisations like MLA rely on the continuing goodwill of levy payers and the support of the federal government to maintain their success, so understanding both and their changing requirements over time are critical.
A good board has a diversity of skills around the table, so I believe that my knowledge in these areas of investing stakeholders’ and governments’ money into R&D and marketing are complimentary to other members of the Board.
Serve on a number of other boards, including the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, which complements the work I do in the red meat sector. I also sit on the boards of Agribusiness Australia and Charles Sturt University.
I’ve also got a property at Borenore near Orange, where I run a small mob of Wiltipoll ewes for prime lamb production, as well as provide accommodation for wine trail tourism.
Planting trees on my farm. Most of the old Monterey pine windbreaks on the block are reaching the end of their lives, and the drought has just hurried things up.