Zane Banson, CFO, Wingara AG joined the AgriFutures Export Fodder Program Advisory Panel in late 2019 and has found “getting his head around the science” a great learning opportunity.
“I don’t have a science background but what I do bring to the table is strong governance and a finance perspective which provides a different lens when we’re assessing and making funding recommendations. And equally as important, I have a strong desire to learn and to be part of a dynamic industry – and Program — that’s global in its thinking,” said Mr Banson.
He added: “As leaders, it’s important that the Advisory Panel is diverse and members bring diversity of thought. I’d encourage anyone working in the industry and with an interest in RD&E to apply.”
Creating solutions for industry challenges
For animal nutritionist and Procurement & Field Service Manager Balco Australia, Pat Guerin, asking the tough questions is key to his role as an Advisory Panel member and driving RD&E for the export fodder industry.
A component of Mr Guerin’s work has always been from a technical perspective, with a focus on animal nutrition and agronomic practices. Which is why he isn’t afraid to ask the tough R&D questions.
“It’s our job, representing the industry, to provide an extra layer of critical thinking. Does this project meet the Program’s objectives? Does it meet the industry’s needs? Is the research methodology sound? Does it have good governance? Is the budget realistic?” said Mr Guerin.
“RD&E is often perceived to just be academic but it’s absolutely vital that any RD&E is translational – it must be focused on the levy payer and grower in order to improve the productivity and sustainability of our industry,” said Mr Guerin.
“This is something that we consider in every aspect of our role on the Advisory Panel – from the Strategic RD&E Plan to the funding calls and the subsequent assessment.”
Stepping away from the day-to-day
According to Mr Banson joining the Advisory Panel has given him exposure to and experience with aspects of the industry that are not part of his day-to-day remit. Ultimately adding to his toolkit as he progresses as a leader in the industry.
“Gaining knowledge on different aspects of plant breeding, technology and nutrition has been hugely rewarding and I enjoy being part of creating solutions to improve the productivity and sustainability of the industry,” said Mr Banson.
“Through the open call for investment we, as an Advisory Panel, have recommended four key projects for funding that align with the objectives set out in our Strategic RD&E Plan. I’m looking forward to following the progress of these projects, from reviewing the proposals to the delivery of outcomes for our levy payers.”
Advice for potential applicants
According to Mr Guerin being on the Advisory Panel is not just an additional line on your CV.
“For people thinking about joining the Advisory Panel, you need to be active, and prepared to commit to do your reading. It’s also important to put aside your particular business interests because the Advisory Panel and Program has an industry-wide focus,” said Mr Guerin.
Mr Banson added: “It’s a fantastic opportunity to challenge yourself, learn from others in the industry and to develop your leadership skills.”
To apply for the AgriFutures Export Fodder Advisory Panel visit: www.agrifutures.smartygrants.com.au/exportfodderadvisorypanel
Applications close 12 noon (AEDT) Tuesday, 17 November 2020.