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Growth Awards 2018 Judges

Ian McConnel

Ian McConnel

Global Commodity Lead, Beef - WWF

A 5th generation beef producer from “Mt Brisbane” in the Brisbane Valley, Queensland, Ian has spent much of his career travelling the globe studying, researching and representing the Australian agricultural industry.

Ian has spent time studying in America, where he also served as the Australian delegate to the World Brahman Summit in 2001.

Ian has also served as the Australian Rural Ambassador for the Federal Council of Agricultural Societies (QCAS), was Australia’s “Beef Industry Rising Champion” and sat on the guiding council for the UN’s Global agenda for the sustainable livestock. Ian also serves as an Executive Board Member for the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef.

Through his current role with WWF, Ian is successfully developing a cohesive and effective global effort to create a beef industry that is socially, economically and environmentally responsible.

Throughout his career, Ian has been an advocate for promoting more effective communication of the beef industry’s environmental and social credentials to the consumer. He believes that through improved communication, consumers will be better enabled to choose sustainable food or agricultural products.

His third year on the judging panel, Ian looks forward to meeting nominees each year who care so much for not only the productivity of their farm, but also the sustainability and productivity of their region and the industry as a whole.


Andrew Marshall

Andrew Marshall


Andrew Marshall is group agribusiness editor for Fairfax Agricultural Media's various state agricultural mastheads, which include The Land in NSW, Queensland Country Life, Farm Weekly in Western Australia, Stock Journal in South Australia and Stock and Land in Victoria.

His 30-year career in agricultural media has included lengthy stints as editor and deputy editor at The Land, and working in Canberra.

He began his career on newspapers on the NSW Northern Tablelands and North Coast.

Originally from a mixed cropping and livestock farming background in North West NSW, Andrew has been closely involved in promoting the annual Syngenta Growth Awards and the earlier Syngenta Spray Awards since their inception in 2007.

Both have been co-sponsored by Fairfax Media. 

He has been an awards judge on several occasions, and in 2015  travelled to the UK and Switzerland with the 2014 Growth Award winners reporting on Syngenta's research and Good Growth Plan initiatives, also covering current issues shaping European agriculture.     

Mick Hay

Mick Hay

Managing Director - RIMFIRE RESOURCES

Mick has a strong background in agribusiness which has included working for major Australian companies, operating across different market segments and regions. After more than 12 years in corporate agribusiness, Mick established Rimfire Resources in 2001 to answer the unique needs of agribusinesses and agricultural professionals. Since then, he has led the business to create innovative new agribusiness products and services, including workforce capacity planning, HR consulting and training, an industry wide salary survey and HR review and a GradLink program, that connects aspiring agricultural graduates with potential future employers.

The GradLink program connects students from universities across Australia with agricultural employers nationally. Over the last year, Mick and the Rimfire team have worked to launch a fully-integrated online platform for GradLink, which allows employers to connect directly with students anywhere in the country via video link. The program not only helps graduates find work, but it also helps them gain a full understanding of the length and breadth of opportunities that exist in the agricultural industry.

This is Mick’s third year judging the Growth Awards, and each year he is pleasantly surprised and inspired by the level of nominees and the great things they’re doing in their industry and community. For Mick, the Awards are a wonderful way to recognise those in agricultural communities who are stepping up and making positive changes. 



Kirrily Condon

Kirrily Condon 


Kirrily is an agronomic consultant with Grassroots Agronomy, a business she runs in partnership with her husband Greg.

She has been an agronomist for over 20 years in southern NSW, commencing as District Agronomist with NSW Dept Primary Industries at Cootamundra, then Manager for FarmLink Research before joining Greg in the consultancy business 11 years ago.

Together they consult to ~35 growers, covering ~150 000 ha of crop and pasture area.

Kirrily is also contracted by the Australian Herbicide Resistance and WeedSmart Initiatives to deliver messages around herbicide resistance management in south-eastern Australia.



Richard Heath

Richard Heath

Executive director - australian farm institute

Richard is the Executive Director of the Australian Farm Institute (AFI). The AFI is an independent policy research organisation whose objective is to enhance the economic and social wellbeing of farmers and the agricultural sector in Australia by conducting highly credible public policy research and promoting the outcomes to policy-makers and the wider community.

Previous to this role Richard was Associate Professor of Agronomy and Farm Management at the University of Sydney and before that was involved in a large family farming business in North West NSW. Richard is a director of the Grains Research and Development Corporation and sits on the Advisory Committee for CSIRO Agriculture and Food. He is a Nuffield scholar and was a director of Nuffield Australia.


Paul Luxton

Paul Luxton


Paul Luxton has over 20 years’ experience in the agriculture industry and a passion that began on his family’s horticulture farm in the Canterbury region of New Zealand.

As the Territory Head – Australasia for Syngenta, Paul leads a team of around 170 people across Australia and New Zealand who are committed to delivering the latest technology and innovation to the Agricultural sector. This technology ensures our Channel customers can enable growers to realise the yield potential of their crops, to better manage risk and to more consistently deliver quality produce which meets the needs of consumers, retailers and the value chain.  With over 600 research and development (R&D) trials conducted under local conditions in 2015, he is focused on supporting Syngenta’s R&D in Australasia and bringing an ambitious pipeline of new product introductions to market.

Paul is passionate about diversity and inclusion and leads the local business’ Diversity & Inclusion Council, which focuses on promoting and harnessing the benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace that is reflective of the customers and communities Syngenta serves. 

Paul is also a member of the APAC Regional Executive team where he is involved in a number of initiatives, including co-leading the Diversity & Inclusion agenda across APAC and various growth initiatives in developing Asia.

Paul currently serves on a number of industry and company boards, including CropLife Australia, AgStewardship, LongReach Plant Breeders and CGS Pty Ltd.

Paul believes the Growth Awards are an opportunity to shine a light on the innovative work Australian and New Zealand growers and advisers are doing to progress the industry and to share positive, inspiring stories about Australasian agriculture.

Growth Awards Supporting Partner