ODS E-News talks to CEO of Irrigation Australia Ian Atkinson about his career to date and the success of the association.
One-on-one with Irrigation Australia CEO Ian Atkinson.
Can you tell us a bit about your background – education, previous employment, etc?
I grew up in rural South Australia and my original degree is in Agricultural Science from the University of Adelaide. After university I spent 20 years interstate in a variety of extension/farm advisor roles including working for the Queensland Department of Primary Industries, NSW Department of Agriculture and the Nursery and Garden Industry. I then changed careers and worked in research management and commercialisation; ending up as CEO of the CRC for Irrigation Futures. I also have qualifications in Science Communications, Horticultural Science and IP Law.
How did you get into the irrigation industry, and how long have you been CEO of Irrigation Australia?
My first serious exposure to the irrigation industry dates back to 1983 when I worked at Loxton Research Station in the Riverland region of SA. I was there doing casual work for the South Australia Department of Agriculture on various projects in the irrigation industry including the ‘River Murray Salinity and Irrigation Management Project’. I was a member of Irrigation Australia Limited (IAL) and its predecessor for many years and have been on the IAL Board. I joined IAL as CEO in May 2011.
What has been your career highlight to date?
To date my career highlight has been managing the CRC for Irrigation Futures through a transition from a research orientated organisation to one focussed on delivering the outcomes of research to industry and government. I’d like to think this highlight will be eclipsed by managing and delivering a successful Conference and Trade Show in Adelaide, but that’s a little premature!
Can you tell us a bit about Irrigation Australia – what it aims to achieve, what it has achieved to date and what it has planned/coming up?
Irrigation Australia aims to raise the professionalism of everyone involved in the irrigation supply chain. This includes; Water providers, Manufacturers, Water user groups, Researchers and Educators, Water supply authorities, Government, Consultants, Irrigators, Designers, Installers, Retailers, Suppliers and end users. Irrigation is about the conscious use of water to grow plants so we are involved in both urban irrigation (e.g. parks and gardens) and rural irrigation (e.g. pasture for cows). For many years, we have organised the biggest Trade Show and Conference on irrigation in the southern hemisphere, and we also provide high quality training and certification programs to many in the industry. In the future we hope to have a bigger involvement in provision of practical industry based standards to help both supplier and buyer achieve best practice outcomes.
What, in your opinion, has contributed to the success of the association?
The association has definitely benefited from the willingness of many in the industry to commit time and resources to a greater outcome than that which could be achieved individually. The members built this organisation from scratch and continue to support it in many ways. Our life members in particular deserve to be congratulated and emulated by those new to the organisation.
Please feel free to add anything further.
If you are not able to visit us in Adelaide either at the Trade Show or Conference - http://online.saneevent.com.au/ial2012/ then please keep an eye on our website for some exciting new developments (including a much improved website) - www.irrigation.org.au