CEO Update Article

Week One Whirlwind !

   Monday 22nd July, 2019

If the mantra of “start as you plan to continue” is anything to go by, then there are great times ahead!

My first week as CEO of Food & Fibre Gippsland has been action packed, from meeting with Telstra’s Group Executive of Networks and IT, Nikos Katinakis at the Gippsland Tech School in Morwell to travelling to Canberra for a workshop to discuss SME Export Hub plans for our Gippsland Connect program, as well as a number of catch ups with stakeholders and members from Warragul to Bairnsdale – I’ve certainly hit the ground running, which is exactly how I like to work.

I’ve come into this role after a number of years in Agribusiness Banking in Gippsland, most recently with Commonwealth Bank, and whilst I’m not born and bred Gippsland, it’s been home for my family and I for the last seven years, and I am genuinely passionate about the region.

One of the many things I enjoy about Gippsland is its diversity, and whilst our Food & Fibre sector is spread across a significant geographic footprint from Cowes in the west to Mallacoota in east and everywhere north and south in between, both myself and our operations team work from a virtual office, in that we are located all in different parts of Gippsland. With no wasted travel time to get to and from the 'office', this allows all of us the flexibility to be connecting with members, producers, growers, manufacturers and stakeholders in their workplace.

We all very much value the time we can spend in the field and on site to truly understand the needs, wants and issues faced by those working in the many different industries that make up the sector, and I am committed to continuing to spread the impact of our projects, current and future events and activities to positively impact businesses and communities all over Gippsland.

It’s been so encouraging in my travels throughout my first week that I am meeting, talking to and connecting with people who share that same passion, and to feel that, along with the growing enthusiasm to be a part of the growth in the region, means we are all heading in the right direction to capitalise on opportunities, existing and new.

As a number of Gippslanders saw on their recent study tour of Holland, collaboration really is king – and that “king” element that is driving success and prosperity in the northern hemisphere is what we need to continue to harness, nurture and embed across our region.

When businesses leverage each other’s strengths and resources to drive better outcomes for both themselves and the sector as a whole, then together we really do become stronger. And when collaboration is combined with innovation, we then put ourselves in the best possible position to be successful and prosper.

We are interviewing candidates this week to lead Gippsland Connect, a two year program to help small to medium food and fibre enterprises who are at different stages of their export journey. This program is a fantastic opportunity to network, to learn and be mentored, and it is positioned to play a significant role in setting Gippsland businesses up for growth, and boost our export capability.

In the coming weeks, I’ll share with you the businesses who will be participating in the Gippsland Connect program, and over the next 24 months, we will be sharing their learnings, their challenges and their successes.

This program is certainly part of a bigger picture that is also being driven at a national level by Austrade, who have a determined focus on boosting food & fibre output from Australia to the world. Today we ( Australia) only make up 1.3% of world food production, and with the spotlight on Gippsland’s food and fibre sector being the economic engine of the region, we are committed to continuing to help build a sector that is globally connected, respected and valued for its products.

My goals for Food & Fibre Gippsland are many (which I will delve into with you over the coming weeks and months), but collaboration is a number one common factor in all of those goals as we strive to represent and be inclusive of diverse interests across this large region we are all so lucky to call home.

Remember that we are listening, we want to understand and respond to your challenges and your ideas, and we are actively exploring opportunities for sustained growth in Gippsland’s food & fibre sector.

Until next week

A group of Gippslanders connects to Telstra Group Executive of Networks and IT - NIkos Katinakis
Inspiration on the walls at the Gippsland Tech School