What are your favourite things to do outside of work?
I have a farm and I have a family. I love to hang out with my kids and work – I like working which is lucky because there is always plenty of work on a farm! Farming is at the mercy of the environment so no matter how hard you try, success or failure can be beyond your control. You need to take a long term perspective, keep calm, and take the good years with the bad. All that said, I absolutely love being on the farm with no walls, at the mercy of the elements, looking up at night and seeing real stars. Country people are generally quite different to city people, they have a more time and more interest in the people around them. I think the more people are concentrated into a small space, the less interested they are in knowing the neighbours, and the reverse is true as well.
What is the best career advice you’ve been given?
Something [JP Morgan CEO] Jamie Dimon said – someone asked him why had he been so successful as a manager, and he said the key is to always lift people up around you. There are plenty who spend their time treading on other people’s heads, but the successful ones elevate the people around them and rise with them.
What advice would you offer others?
Surround yourself with a good team. It takes time to put together a good team of people but it’s always time well spent. Also, you don’t have to like everyone on your team, but you do have to know everyone, and understand how they’ll react in different situations. Get to know your people, and they’ll help your business grow.
What emerging technology are you excited about?
I get excited about stock breeding technology. Artificial insemination and embryo transfer allow us to massively accelerate change in herd genetics. Selecting for genetics with say faster growth rates and higher meat yields is one way of reducing the carbon imprint of a livestock. Better still, the latest research indicates it’s possible to select for animals who are lower methane producers (contrary to popular belief cows actually burp out the methane) but by selecting from the genetics of animals who have the right gut bacteria, you’re selecting a cow that burps less – and the really good part is, instead of expelling that methane or energy into the environment, they are actually converting it into faster growth rates
Where do you live and what do you like about it?
Randwick. It’s very central, close to the airport, close to the beach, you can get to the city easily, and access the arterial roads out of Sydney too! The farm is in Oberon, which is higher and cooler. If you want a farm and live in Sydney, you don’t want more than 2.5 hours’ travel time and I determined that Oberon was best quality, most cost effective spot to be. Once WestConnex goes through it will cut travel time to just over two hours, and as it gets hotter with climate change, it’ll be more desirable to go there to cool down.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I’d live between Australia and Spain. Spanish food and the Spanish lifestyle are sensational. There’s a great combination of architecture, from the Moorish influence through to the likes of Gaudi. Here I would live on the best farming land in Australia which is in Ebor Falls east of Armidale and I’d grow Speckled Park cattle.
What was the best holiday you’ve ever taken?
When my wife and I had been married about a year we went to Europe. When we booked the tickets we forgot she hadn’t had her passport changed, so when we got to airport and they wouldn’t let her on the plane because her passport and ticket didn’t match. We had to get her reticketed in her maiden name, which meant I got to take my girlfriend on holidays again! That’s when we went to Spain for the first time. Go to Barcelona and eat at a restaurant called Calpep – if you don’t like the meal, I’ll pay.
If you could wake up one day magically able to play any sport perfectly which would you choose and why?
I’d go back to being a trimmer on a racing yacht. It’s just you and the elements and you’re competing against the wind, the waves and the tides rather than other people. Very raw and exhilarating.